The South Balsam Trail provides a variety of walking, running or cycling experience, with about half of the trail wending its way through some thick, old-growth forest and open, newly-reforested fields, and about half returning along town streets. The trail provides benches for peaceful relaxation and observation of wildlife, as well as access to ponds and a children’s playground.
- The “head of trail” sign in the Beechwood Parkette marks the start of the trail, although it may be entered at any point along its route. The large sign shows the route of the trail, and its link with the Quaker Trail to the north.
- Turn right at Forsythe Drive, at the foot of which the trail enters the natural area. The path leads immediately along a boardwalk across a wetland section, where typical wetland wildlife may be seen. Forsythe Drive was named after the family that acquired much of the land in this area around 1915. The large barn visible between the houses along Forsythe Drive dates from that era. Members of the Forsythe family still live in the area, but not on this property. The history of this area goes back to 1805, when the land in this area was granted by the Crown to Dr. Christopher Beswick. He was the first medical doctor north of the Oak Ridges Moraine. He was not a Quaker, but interestingly he lived in Catawissa, Pennsyslvania before moving to the Uxbridge area. Catawissa is the town “twinned” with Uxbridge. Beswick Lane is named after him.
- The trail enters a stand of old-growth forest featuring some very large trees. Identification plaques on specimen trees will be instructional for walkers or for school field trips. The Collins family bought the land from Dr. Beswick. Perhaps much of the original forest survived because John Collins was very protective of his woods. The Uxbridge Historical Centre has reference to a notice posted in 1840: “Take note – whereas several persons have been in the habit of cutting timber on . . . lot 30 . . . Notice is hereby given that any person trespassing after this notice will be prosecuted according to the Law. I hereby forbid any person cutting or taking away any timber or firewood from the said half lot. John Collins”.
- The trail leads to a more open area that has been recently reforested, with extensive planting of evergreen trees. The reforestation is part of the Uxbridge Brook Watershed restoration project. A donated bench provides a resting place.
- A pond provides for many recreational activities, including ice skating in the winter, tadpole and frog catching in the spring, and bird-watching all year. Common visitors include Canada geese, blue herons, yellow finches and redwinged blackbirds, as well as deer and muskrats. A pair of benches provides a comfortable place for resting or quiet observation of life around the pond.
- A children’s playground a few steps off the trail permits kids to let off a little steam.
- The trail continues, leaving its natural section and emerging into South Cedar St., then heads west (left) at Brock Street. Stay on Brock St. until reaching South Balsam St., where the trail heads back to the starting point.
Connection to the Quaker Trail – At the two points marked 8, you can connect with the Quaker Trail, another of the Uxbridge Town Trails. The head of- trail sign describing this 2.5 km. trail is located near the illuminated sign at the entrance to the arena. Or you can connect with the trail by crossing Brock St. at the lights, and then follwing the Quaker Trail markers
The Uxbridge Town Trail system is a network of trails in the urban area that will also connect to major trails to the south (the Trans-Canada Trail and the Oak Ridges Trail). The Town Trail program is an initiative of the “Uxbridge, Naturally” group.
The Town Trail system is a program of the Township of Uxbridge in association with volunteer groups. Historical information is provided by the Uxbridge Historical Centre.