The Health Valley Trail (HVT) is a linear trail about 5 km long. It stretches from St. Jacobs (Jakobstettel), Ontario (43.539108, -80.549698) to University Avenue East (43.516448, -80.522808). The trail exists due to arrangements between generous, private land owners and the Woolwich Township. With the exception of the first portion of the pathway, most of the trail is a footpath. Some sections of the trail follow the Conestogo River and Martin Creek passing through a variety of terrain such as fields that may be used by grazing cattle and through wooded areas. The first segment of the Health Valley Trail, from St. Jacobs to the Hwy 85/Arthur Street Souh bridge (~ 1.4 km), is also a portion of The Great Trail (formerly the Trans Canada Trail). The remaining part of the Health Valley Trail, from the Hwy 85/Arthur Street South bridge to University Avenue East (~ 3.6 km), is a portion of the 113 km Avon Trail. On a nice day one could walk the trail in both directions and have a pleasant 10 km hike.
Being a well-marked, well used and relatively short, linear trail, one does not really need a GPS track to find ones way. However, the track is available below if you want it.
"Hiking, birding, mountain biking on all sections. Biking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing in some sections." ... according to a Woolwich Township web page.
There are two parking spots for the linear Health Valley Trail. The best one is the large parking lot behind the Firehall in St. Jacobs. That lot is located at coodinates 43.539126, -80.549740 (entrance is where Water Street meets Albert Street East). There is limited parking on the shoulder of the road at the other end of the trail on University Ave East (43.516425, -80.522802). If you park along University Avenue East, do not block the entrance to the field since it is used by the land owner and can act as an EMS route.
The HVT is a Woolwich Trail and the township coordinates with the private land owners. Maintenance along the trail (e.g. building bridges, cutting weeds and painting blazes) is perfomed mostly by volunteers from Woolwich Township and the Avon Trail.
Trail Markings (Blazes)
HVT signs appear periodically on posts and trees along the trail (like the one at the top right of this web page). The section from the Hwy 85/Arthur Street South bridge to University Avenue East, that is also part of the Avon Trail, will have white blazes marking the trail. The white blazes used are the same as those used by the Grand Valley Trails Association and the Bruce Trail Conservancy. If you are not familiar with such markings, check this Bruce Trail web page for details. Some parts of these lands are used by horse back riders. Where possible there is a separation of the HVT and the horse back rider trails and there is signage to that effect.
Currently there are large gates in two locations along the HVT. They are designed to be self-closing gates. Such gates are in place to keep farm animals within a designated area. Although they are self-closing, it is important that the last hiker passing through these gates ensure that the gate closes "softly" (to avoid damage) and that the gate is indeed closed.
Flora and Fauna
This trail provides an oportunity to view various plant and animal life. This is especially the case if you walk the trail frequently and year round. For example, on 2019 March 14 (Thursday), we saw red-winged black birds, robins, chickadees, a blue heron, a hawk (not close enough to determine the species), mallard ducks, Canada geese and, overhead, several Sandhill Cranes. If you are not too noisy, you may encounter white tail deer. Numerous tree types exist in the area as well as wildflowers like the Turk's Cap Lily shown below and here. You may have heard about a potentially dangerous invasive plant called Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). It does appear in a few spots along this trail and should NOT be touched. Check here for pictures and details. When Giant Hogweed is discovered it is normally removed by professionals.
The Health Valley Trail Tree Spirit
Our thanks to the unknown sculptor who created this outstanding "tree spirit".
Health Valley Trail Map (red line)
GPS Tracks for Download
HELP: If clicking on the links does not provide a download option, try RIGHT clicking the link (especially the .gpx file) and then choose "Save Links As" (or equivalent) from the drop-down menu. Pick a download location (e.g. desktop) for the file.