The narrow, red clay lanes of the Island are special places - each with a story. Spared burial under cement or asphalt, they are no longer just avenues for getting from one place to another, but a unique part of our heritage.
The terrain over which these routes travel is varied and captivating. High hills, twists and turns lure the traveler onward. Wonderful vistas provide panoramic views of the countryside, as well as glimpses of rural life - of farmsteads, new and abandoned, and the remnants of sawmills and furniture factories - early enterprises that have since ceased operation.
"Tunnels" of foliage are found along some of these trails. Native hardwoods such as sugar maple, red maple, beech and red oak are some of the trees contributing to the canopies that arch over many roads. Spruce, pine and hemlock provide contrast and depth where they intersperse with deciduous trees. Bordering farmsteads, they form sturdy hedgerows.
In open areas lupins, black-eyed susans, daisies, Queen Anne's lace and a host of other wild flowers create an abundance of bloom while, under the tree cover, mosses, ferns and trillium are some of the plants that thrive in the shade.
Appreciated not only by humans, these roads and their associated vegetation serve as wildlife corridors for foxes, squirrels and snowshoe hares. Roadside bushes provide nesting sites for many song birds.
A Word of Caution: Many of these routes are used by farmers with large machinery and caution is advised. Steep hills, sharp turns and wet areas are common and travellers are advised to reduce their speed accordingly. In spring (late March until mid-June, depending on the weather) as the snow and frost melt, these routes are quite muddy. Driving at this time is not advised.
Designated Scenic Heritage Roads
The designation of Scenic Heritage Roads became possible in 1987 when the Provincial Government passed regulations under the Planning Act limiting activities that may take place there with the intent of protecting and preserving some of these scenic and cultural refuges. As of 2005, eleven of these special places have become Designated Scenic Heritage Roads.
The adjacent landowners play a vital part in the protection of these roads. Many, realizing the importance of this part of our heritage, have voluntarily entered into simple agreements with the Island Nature Trust to protect a strip of woodland or hedgerow adjacent to the government right- of-way. Without this "buffer zone" many of the lovely canopies on these roads would disappear.
The Island’s Scenic Heritage Roads
On the Island are six other old roads that have similar historical and aesthetic value that are not Designated Scenic Heritage Roads. As such, these roads receive limited controlled road surface and vegetative maintenance in effort to minimize disturbance or change. The primary purpose for the identification of these roads is to provide the travelling public with an opportunity to travel on a road that reflects the ambiance and scenery of yesteryear.
Discover 16 scenic Heritage roads that were carved from red clay and hardwood forests well before the first bicycle was invented. These clay roads meander through farmland and woodland and provide an excellent opportunity to experience nature at its best. Steep hills and wet areas are common, these roads should be avoided in the spring when snow and ice are still melting and mud is a problem. Keep in mind that many of these routes are still used by farmers with large machinery and caution is advised.