Kejimkujik National Park’s “Hemlocks and Hardwoods” self-guided interpretive trail winds its way 5km through the province’s oldest growth and most enchanting forest. Giant Hemlocks, Ash and White Pine line the trail at various stages, telling the story of the natural growth and evolution of a forest long separated from human destruction.
The trail starts off from the parking lot at Big Dam Lake. The first half is a more subtle, warn natural pathway which winds its way through a younger stand of hardwood forest. A history of fire and logging shows how this area sprouted from destruction and is in the early stages of an old-growth forest.
The second half of the trail follows along a well built boardwalk which serves a dual purpose of providing a great walking path, and preserving the root structures of the gigantic old-growth Hemlocks which encompass the area. The interpretive story comes to a magnificent crescendo here as you walk amongst the huge majestic hemlocks. You feel as though you’re experiencing an environment only previously seen in fantasy and fiction. This area of well preserved forest is a testament to the ability of the Eastern Hemlock to out-compete and outlast most other types of trees. The oldest growth tree here is more than 400 years old.
Hemlocks and Hardwoods is perhaps Keji’s most popular hiking trail, and for good reason. It’s a chance to experience an absolutely magical forest which sadly just does not exist elsewhere. The interpretive story of the long timeline of growth and natural destruction, surrounded by examples of each stage as you go, provides a very unique educational experience.
At 5km, the looped trail is perfect for a fairly quick outing which can be fit into any part of your day. As with all of Keji, watch for ticks and be prepared for bugs certain times of the year. I would say this trail is a must-do if you’re going to do any hiking while you’re at Kejimkujik National Park.
Recommended Reading: “Journeys Through Eastern Old-Growth Forest: A Narrative Guide”