Historical Significance · Wildlife
The Cataraqui Trail follows the former Canadian National Railway line from Smiths Falls to Strathcona near Napanee. Therefore, the trail has no steep grades of over 5%. The only exceptions to this are at Opinicon Road (km 59.1) and Colebrook Road (km 87.8) where the railway overpasses were removed and at km 69 where the trail was detoured up the hill around some cottages.
The trail surface is usually the gravel surface of the old railbed. In many places, an additional layer of crushed stone (granular A – ¾ inch minus) has been added. In 2008 and 2009, stone dust surfacing was placed from Hogan Road (km 66.8) to Boyce Island (km 68.2) and from Yarker (km 88.8) to East Street in Newburgh (km 98.4).
The 104 km non-motorized trail contains a variety of geographical features and has a historical past. Built upon the former CN rail line, the multi-use trail runs east to west and passes through a number of communities including Portland, Chaffey's Locks, Sydenham and Harrowsmith. Today, the recreational trail is used by cyclists, runners, horse riders, snowmobilers, cross-country skiers and people just out for a stroll, enjoying spotting wildlife and the natural surrounding.
There are three segments: Cataraqui Trail: West Segment
, Cataraqui Trail: Central Segment, and Cataraqui Trail: East Segment
Some of the nicest features and scenery can be found in this segment, running beside rocky cliffs, lakes and streams (and beaver dams). This stretch is fairly remote until arriving at Perth Road (km 61). There is a parking lot here and a nearby store. The trail continues past Sydenham Lake before arriving in the village of Sydenham (km 72).
This trail is part of a regional trail network and connects with Rideau Trail: Opinicon Segment
Flora & Fauna
When crossing the agricultural landscape, the trail right-of-way is generally bordered on both sides by a narrow, natural hedgerow of sun-tolerant native trees, shrubs and plants. This provides ideal habitat for a wide variety of insects, birds and small mammals. In swampy areas, the right-of-way offers a dry respite to the surrounding marshes much appreciated by egg-laying turtles who will take advantage of the gravelly banks along the edge of the trail.
In forested areas, the trail provides sunlit edges to the otherwise shaded forest floor. These edges permit the growth of sun-tolerant vegetation such as wild apple trees, berry bushes and grass, thereby enhancing the forage possibilities for numerous animal species. The observant trail user will encounter: a variety of birds including herons, ospreys and turkeys; several varieties of turtle including the snapping turtle; several species of snake including the endangered black rat snake; and numerous mammals such as mice, chipmunks
Shared By: Ali Ryder