One of the newer spots where we walk and snowshoe is the Huron Natural Area (HNA), Kitchener. It is adjacent to part of the Strasburg Creek drainage system. One can easily walk 5 km or more during a visit. To compliment the walk is the wonderful archaeological discovery referred to as “The Neutral Nation Archaeological Protected Area” along parts of Strasburg Creek and dating back about 500 years ago. More recently (1800s), George Davidson, Esq. of Aberdeen, Scotland attempted to establish the village of New Aberdeen in this same area. Information about hikes and history in the HNA follow.
Like other locations in the region (e.g. Strange Street Aboriginal Settlement along the beginnings of Schneider Creek), the Strasburg Creek area was a favourite spot for aboriginal people from a few hundred years ago to 4,000 years ago according to archaeological assessments.
Also, via the boardwalk at coordinates 43.393574, -80.480941, we have accessed the relatively new community trail(s) on the south side of Strasburg Creek amongst the housing development called Huron Village (Google Maps Street View). The housing development is north of Huron Road. We ventured south east to where Strasburg Creek passes under Huron Road checking out the end of Strasburg Road (south of Huron Road). It became apparent this area had some more recent, 1800’s, history that we wanted to research. It turns out that the present (2016) Huron Village housing development (e.g. Woodbine Avenue & Parkdale Drive, within Kitchener), had been destined to be the village of New Aberdeen a short buggy ride south west of Berlin according to plans drawn up in June 1856.
This web page provides some hiking data for some of the trails at HNA. A person does not really require the GPS tracks for HNA. The trail maps posted at HNA and available online are quite adequate. In addition to the hiking data below, I have posted some information about the history of the area that I have discovered.
About Huron Natural Area
It is my understanding that the land that constitutes the HNA consists of parts of three recent farms.
Natural Area (HNA) is an awe-inspiring destination for nature
lovers, families, trail walkers, photographers - and those looking to
experience nature in the city. Our city's largest and most valuable
natural area, this 107-hectare site, located at 801 Trillium Dr., on the
south side of our city, includes:
• Strasburg Creek, one of our only coldwater streams
• Provincially significant wetlands, forest, meadows and significant species
• Scenic hiking trails, boardwalks and lookout areas
• An amazing natural and cultural history”
[above quote from the City of Kitchener website 2016MARCH30]
Hiking and Trails at Huron Natural Area
- Location & Parking: Off Trillium Drive at coordinates 43.398935, -80.482061.
- Fees: No fees apply.
- Toilets: Modern toilets are available depending on the time of day and time of year.
- Dogs: Dogs are allowed if leashed at all times and the owner is required to stoop, scoop and carry out the poop.
The trails at HNA form loops of various lengths so you end up back where you parked your vehicle. The HNA is used by both school boards to augment environment curriculum, one of the shorter trails allows citizens to visit one of the big ponds and is wheelchair accessible, and now there is a new natural playscape. The area is also used for some research and university classes. It is a great location for family visits. There are maps along the wide paths that one can use to find your way. Also, you can download the trail map provided by the City of Kitchener here; it is the same as the maps along the trails.
Below is a record of the two main routes I tend to walk (5 km and 9 km). They make use of the trails on the official HNA map as well as other footpaths, community trails and sidewalks in the new Huron Village housing development near the intersection of Huron Road and Parkvale Drive (Google Street View).
My Two Favourite Loop Walks at Huron Natural Area
1) Huron Natural Area 5 km Loop
The track shown below makes use of parts of certain HNA trails resulting in a 5 km loop.
2) Huron Natural Area 8 km Loop
This path is the same as the 5 km loop (see above) except it has an extra 3 km added. When you arrive at the boardwalk near the Neutral Nation Archaeological Protected Area (about coordinates 43.393614, -80.480952) you proceed across the boardwalk (south) towards the elevated houses. Once at 43.392685, -80.481263, I suggest turning right (counterclockwise) and continue along the paved Strasburg Creek trail for about 0.7 km where you will proceed under a powerline. Eventually you reach Parkvale Drive where you follow the sidewalk to the left. About 0.8 km along Parkvale Drive, and just before you reach Huron Road, you will arrive at a spot where the trail starts up again, to the left, between house number 26 and house number 30. As you proceed along the trail you should be able to see some ponds and see that Strasburg Creek flows under Huron Road (off to the right). Remember that back in the 1800s Huron Road was not as elevated as it is now. Eventually you will return to the boardwalk where you turn right crossing back over the boardwalk. A short distance after the boardwalk ends follow the wide groomed trail to the right for about 80 m. Here you veer right, off the groomed path, and down towards Strasburg Creek in a woodlot. You are following the green dashed line on the map at the bottom of this web page.
At 16 on the bottom map you will see larger ponds (B on map) and remnants of dams. At one time this area was a mill pond and the plan had been to build a mill on the south side of Huron Road as part of the village of New Aberdeen. Remember, that village was planned but never became reality. A link to more information about New Aberdeen appears below.
At 17 and 18 there are spots where one can walk off the trail to view various developments along current-day Huron Road. For example, Huron Heights Secondary School should be visible and faces Strasburg Road. Eventually you reach the Woodland Trail and return to the parking lot on wide, groomed trails.