The Apps’ Mill trail may be one of the most underrated nature paths around. Just north of the new housing developments on Rest Acres Road, we sort of want it to stay that way. Alas, some secrets are too good to keep.
The morning we drove to Apps’ Mill was a gong show. We all woke up at the crack of dawn and somehow stumbled into the car in search for coffee. But we were failing. Moo was screaming in the back, Billie was trying to sleep and kept getting woken up by Moo’s wailing, so she was screaming too. Every time one set of eyes began to close the other kid would set them off. We stopped three times between Paris and Brantford, none of them a planned destination, simply because we couldn’t take any more of the screaming echo chamber. It gets better, right?
And then we remembered Apps’ Mill. We hadn’t walked the trail since winter time, but it’s one of our favourites because it is short enough for Moo (at two and a half) to walk most of it on her own but long enough to relax and get into the rhythm of being in a forest. It’s also a loop, so no repeat scenery (this is a huge accomplishment in a life consisting of the same stories, nursery rhymes, activities and expressions, day after day after day).
There is an old ruined mill at the trailhead, built in 1841, covered in the kind of graffiti you only find around here: mostly hearts, upbeat sayings and proclamations of love. (It’s worth noting we take the trail a little farther on from the information centre). The path winds around Whitemans Creek – which looks more like a river – over and under fallen logs, through tall grassy fields and across miniature bridges.
It’s difficult to get lost on this trail as all roads lead home: If you have the feeling you’re not going the right way, just keep going – it will bring you back to the car park, promise. The only significant turn is to cross a bridge then cut back up the way you came at which point you are about a third of the way through.
Since winter, clearly a lot had changed. Frogs and spiders and chipmunks were constant companions. Giant Mulberry trees offered up their ripening bounties. To find these trees – and yummy trail snacks – just spot the clumps of blackened berries on the trail floor and look skyward.
We all enjoyed ourselves and ended our day content and settled. Moo led the way, shouting about blazes, running back and forth between Mom and Dad to hold our hands. Billie slept the entire way on Cassie’s chest in the carrier. Cassie took time marvelling at the layers of green leaves and gnarly bark textures. Mark scrambled up and down river banks to capture these stunning photos. Nature has a way of giving you what you need.