A stroll on the brand-new trail of the Oschmann Forest

It’s the holidays season, which mean I have some free time to explore new places (and to burn all the calories I’ve been gaining in the past few days). After doing a bit of research online, I discovered the existence of the Oschmann Forest near Winchester, Ontario, and decided to go for a short hike there.

The Oschmann Forest is a brand-new conservation area managed by South Nation Conservation (SNC), the conservation authority responsible for protecting and restoring lands in the South Nation River watershed. The SNC manages and protects several conservation areas in Eastern Ontario, including the Warwick Forest near my home, which I visit regularly.

Oschmann Forest
It’s a beautiful day for a walk in the forest

However, I had never heard of the Oschmann Forest before coming across an article online (even though it is situated at only a 30-minute drive from my home). The Oschmann Forest Conservation Area was only inaugurated in 2017, when this piece of land was donated by the owner, George Oschmann, to the SNC.

German immigrants living in Canada since the 1960s, the Oschmanns restored and maintained the forest for several decades. They built a sugar shack there and regularly took walks in the forest. After the death of his wife Gertrude, George Oschmann decided to donate the forest in his honor, so that it could be protected.

Sugar shack in Oschmann Forest
An old sugar shack in the forest

Over the past two years, the SNC has built a trail, planted new trees, and added interpretation signs (in English and in French). The organization also reinstalled facilities and a pumphouse to harvest maple sap. The goal: to make it part of its Maple Syrup Education Program, a program focused on maple syrup production and forest ecology.

Oschmann Forest
Learning how maple syrup is made

The path that runs through the forest is just one kilometre long and the forest isn’t big enough to make you forget the nearby residences and agricultural fields. But the stroll is still a pleasant one under the big maple trees, especially when December weather makes one feel like spring isn’t that far away.

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