The Selkirk Forest Walking Trail is found in King’s County on route 23 (Selkirk Road) between 205 (Colville Rd) and 204 (Gairloch Rd). The name derives from the Selkirk Settlers who arrived from Scotland to settle the area beginning in the early 1800s. Today, the woodlot on which the trail is located is public land under the management of MacPhail Woods Ecological Forestry Project.
The trail is one of amazing diversity covering approximately 6 km in a large loop with two smaller offshoot loops that add both interest and distance, as well as a couple of cross-tracks to shorten the main loop for those wanting an abbreviated walk. The trail begins from the parking area by heading north through some old white spruce to the tributaries of the Montague River. While following the course of the river west, a springtime walk will reward you with views along the riparian zone such as marsh marigolds, ferns, and many other beautiful plants making their seasonal debut. With a sharp eye you might spot a frog or newt, and as you move along the trail, there are many varied and sometimes colourful fungi, particularly as fall arrives.
A boardwalk will take you to the other side of the river and eventually to a spectacular mature grove of eastern hemlocks…. a favorite spot for a snack break while just enjoying nature’s majesty! Leaving the hemlock grove, try to spot the rare hobblebush with its beautiful white flowers in early summer, and red berries in fall. In addition to the hobblebush, Selkirk is also home to other rare native plants including witch hazel and black ash. As you cross the bridge you may spot some recent evidence of beavers, or even meet up with a ruffed grouse.
Passing through the back of the woodlot will take you to a wonderful beech forest…. always beautiful, but really quite spectacular in winter as the rust leaves hang on the trees long after snow has fallen. At the next junction, a loop allows one to walk along an old forestry road flanked with yellow birch, including a couple of huge old grand-daddies that are particularly impressive! Some of the old growth trees of Selkirk have been known to attract both barred owls, and the rare pileated woodpecker.
The return trek towards the parking area will take you through a pine monoculture, and sections of old agricultural lands now infilled with white spruce. Enroute you may notice some of MacPhail’s ongoing stewardship for sustainable forest management and restoration of the native Acadian Forest. The creation of clearings allows for the planting of original species seedlings.
In addition to all this, Selkirk Forest is the seasonal home to many birds, and to such an extent that the woodland has been the site of an annual bird banding program as part of monitoring avian species and their habitat.
The Selkirk Forest really is one spectacular out-of-doors classroom for all to enjoy! It’s a trail for all seasons, to be experienced with sneakers, boots, and yes, definitely snowshoes; but not bikes as by its very nature it is strictly a walking trail only…. thanks, and enjoy your walk.