A new place to explore nature near William’s Landing

 Article and photos by Ian Darragh - The newest wildlife reserve in Haliburton County has seven km of well-marked trails — plus 40 waterfalls, blue herons, turtles, spring flowers and more. The 600 acres of Barnum Creek Nature Reserve opened to the public on Oct. 15, 2020. It’s the closest nature reserve to William’s Landing, it is just an 10-km drive off Gelert Road, County Road 1. 

The designation of Barnum Creek as a nature reserve has been a long time in the making. One of the founders of the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust, Sheila Ziman, remembers being invited in 2012 to go for a walk through the property by Margaret Dobrzensky, who along with her mother, Leopoldina, donated the land through the federal government’s Ecological Gifts Program.

“I remember falling in love with the property. It was so beautiful,” Sheila recalls. She says what makes Barnum Creek Nature Reserve special is the diversity of habitats, including wetlands, upland forests and grasslands. The open areas provide habitat for such at-risk species as the eastern whip-poor-will, hog-nosed snake, eastern milksnake and common five-lined skink. Flowing through the middle of the nature reserve is Barnum Creek, which cascades down a ridge in a series of waterfalls bordered by ferns and rich mosses.

The Haliburton Highlands Land Trust is planning to set aside plots of land in Barnum Creek to measure the impact of climate change in the county. The nature reserve will become a living laboratory for environmental education and has received funding from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.

Barnum Creek Nature Reserve may be explored by hikers, cross-country skiers and snowshoers. Bicycles are only permitted on the main trail called Heritage Hike, a former logging road. The reserve is closed to all motorized vehicles. Hunting is not permitted, which makes it a safe place to walk during the Fall hunting season. In winter, the parking lot will not be plowed, so visitors will have to park along Gould Crossing Road.

Driving Directions

Note that Google Maps wrongly gives the location of the nature reserve as on Cowan Road (Google has been notified of this error). The correct address of Barnum Creek Nature Reserve is 1118 Gould Crossing Road. From William’s Landing, drive north on Kashagawigamog Lake Road towards the Village of Haliburton. At the junction with Gelert Road, turn right. Then watch for the green sign pointing to the Gould Crossing Road turnoff and turn left off Gelert Road. Cross the Haliburton County Rail Trail, and then go up a steep hill. The entrance to the parking lot is on your right.

If you want to support Barnum Creek Nature Reserve, there are several options. You can join the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust. You can adopt an acre or give an acre as a gift. One acre can be adopted for a $50; half an acre for $30. The Trust will mail a frameable certificate to the recipient of your gift. (If you are planning to visit the Trust office in the Village of Haliburton to choose your acre on a map, call 705-457-3700 to book an appointment).
Or you can purchase a jigsaw puzzle featuring a photo of a waterfall on Barnum Creek. The puzzle is a perfect activity for those rare rainy days at the cottage.
The Trust is a registered charity and will be using proceeds from fund-raising to expand the trail network; mow the fields around the abandoned farm on the property; support environmental research and maintain the new parking lot.

Ian Darragh is a cottager at William’s Landing and member of the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust.


2 Kris Kadwell Waterfall Way Trail Barnum Creek Nature Reserve

Kris Kadwell (right), host of Canadian music show “Paddling Beyond the Mainstream” on Canoe FM and friend, Paul Cowan, hike through open cedar forest on the Waterfall Way Trail. Kris is a volunteer with Haliburton Highlands Land Trust and helped mark the trails.









3 Barnum Creek Nature Reserve Trailhead kiosk and map

 A kiosk with a large map of Barnum Creek Nature Reserve greets hikers in the parking lot.



















4 Barnum Creek jigsaw puzzle cover lo resJigsaw puzzle featuring a waterfall on Barnum Creek was created by The Occurrence, a local company in the Village of Haliburton, to raise funds for the maintenance of the nature reserve