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On a cold January 20, I ventured into Hall Tract York Regional Forest for the first time. Each forest has its merits, but this is a new favourite. There is a decent-sized parking lot. Even though there were nine cars when I arrived, I only spotted three people.

This forest has a lot of capacity and a crazy amount of side trails. My map below is good (as a proud geographer), but it will get you lost. There are twice as many impromptu trails. Plus, the streams shown are under snow, so these aren’t much help for navigating.

The trail starts next to a wrecking and recycling yard, with accompanying metal clanging sounds. However, you get past this quickly. The trails on the south side are wide enough for trucks to pass. As you approach the east, the trails narrow.

The best trails are on the north side, adjacent to the archery range (wear a blaze orange hat). These trails are single track and in some areas, resemble a “Luge Track”.

There is a lot of hilliness in the east and north, but thankfully – these warmed my hands after being numb for 2.5 km. The overall hike is a beginner-to-moderate level of difficulty. There is an accessible trail in the southwest near the parking lot. I couldn’t see what the surface was constructed of under the snow, but probably gravel screenings.

Caution must be taken with navigation. There are adjoining forest tracts to the north and south – it would be easy to walk out of this one and into another. At least you know, McCowan is always on the west side, so how lost can you get? I recommend a trail app of sorts. Have fun. This is a good one.

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