Most people from Elora and Fergus are familiar with the Elora Cataract Trail. It starts just off Gerrie Road at the edge of Elora, and for the ambitious, leads to The Forks of the Credit. The trail has many sections that are groomed and designed for hikers and cyclists. Other areas are wilder and are shared with horses and motorized vehicles. Be certain to take note of the usage when enjoying the trail.
The section between Elora and Fergus is an extremely popular hiking trail. It is well groomed and dedicated to use by cyclists and hikers. Whatever your pace, you will enjoy this 2km section of trail between Gerrie Road, in Elora, and the Beattie Line, in Fergus.
This section of trail follows the rail bed of the Credit Valley Railway’s Elora-Cataract line. Residents of Station Square, in Elora, live on the original station property. The railway started there and connected to the main line that ran from Orangeville to Toronto. Starting a railway is expensive and the original owners were at risk of bankruptcy by the time their lines were finished. This line was incorporated into the Ontario and Quebec Railway in 1879 and leased to the Canadian Pacific Railway.
In the beginning, the line was very popular. People and goods made their way from Elora to Toronto on a regular basis. By the 1950s, traffic was reduced. Gone were the dedicated trains. Passengers endured the aroma of the cattle when traveling aboard the mixed trains that were put together to reduce costs.
We are fortunate that some groups had the foresight to save the line for a trail. The Elora-Cataract Trailway is owned by the Grand River Conservation Authority and the Credit Valley Conservation Authority. Using grants from the Province of Ontario, and funds raised through the Grand Valley Conservation Foundation, corporate and private donors, service clubs, user groups, and local citizens the trailway was created and is now maintained for all to enjoy.
Much of the trail’s maintenance done by volunteers. Anyone can join the group. If you would like to become a member and help support the Trailway Association, the memberships are $25/year or $100 for 5 years. Sign-up information is available on the group’s website, http://www.trailway.org/
When you choose to hike, or cycle, from the Elora end of the trail, you may want to drive to the entrance. There is an easily accessible parking lot available off Gerrie Road, between Mill and Colborne Streets. Park your vehicle and get started.
Depending on the season, you will find different natural items of interest along the trail. The spring buds and blossoms create a delightful scent, that is not to be missed. Watch for the different plants, such as Blood Root and Violets, in the spring. Look for Monarch Butterflies on the milkweed and Joe Pye weed as the summer progresses. By mid-September the leaves are turning and the showcase of colour is picture perfect. The days may cool, but the trail is still the best way to travel from Elora to Fergus, even in deep snow. Depending on the winter conditions, you may want snowshoes or skiis.
No matter what the season, the Elora-Cataract trail is a wonderful place to hike, cycle and enjoy nature. Watch for smaller mammals, such as chipmunks and listen for the birds calling to one-another. How many do you recognize, and can you find them hidden in the trees?
As with any trail, be sure to stay on the groomed portion to protect the nature around it. Keep pets on a leash, so that they don’t frighten or harm the wildlife. And, of course, be considerate of other trail users. Ring your bicycle bell when approaching pedestrians, and move to the right to share the trail with others.