The Rotary Greenway:

Scenic River Road Trail

The Rotary Greenway: Scenic River Road Trail
Trent University
to Lakefield

The Scenic River Road Trail is a picturesque 8.5 km path from
Trent University to Lakefield. It was opened for public use on July 5, 2000 and is accessible year-round. It is jointly owned by Peterborough County and Trent University which manage their respective properties. This new trail was made possible by the support of the Rotary Club.

The Anishinaabeg had settled the region they called Aki Gwush Kwad (pronounced Ki-Gush-Kud) or “The Land of Plenty” 3000 to 5000 years ago, as indicated by an arrowhead found in the area. John and Margaret Nelson moved here from
Ireland as Lakefield’s first family in 1820. The former hamlet of Nassau Mills was split between the townships of Smith and Douro which were surveyed in 1818 by Samuel Wilmot and in 1823 by Richard Birdsall, respectively. It is the present site of Trent’s Symons Campus and is marked today by Nassau Mills Road.

Officially abandoned on July 12th 1989, the original railway track was constructed in 1868.  The former track and new recreational trail runs North from Trent University’s Symons Campus (opened as the Nassau Campus in 1967) to the old Cement Works in Lakefield. This plant operated as the Lakefield Portland Cement Company Ltd. from 1901 through 1909 and as a subsidiary of the Canada Cement Works from 1909 through 1932. The stack that identifies it was built in 1932, ironically, the year the plant closed.

Along the Scenic River Road Trail, you will be able to visit locks 22 through 25 of the Peterborough-Lakefield division of the Trent-Severn Waterway, constructed under the Wilfrid Laurier Liberal Government from 1894 through 1904. Otonabee (Lock 23), built in 1896, was Canada’s first entirely concrete lock and a testament to the engineering brilliance of R.B. Rogers.

Natural Features
The underlying rocks evident along the trail are Middle Ordovician limestones known as the
Trenton series, at least 400 million years old. These are fossiliferous and suitable for cement manufacture. The Otonabee River that follows the course of this path flows through a valley, which was formed when the ice retreated from the Peterborough area about 10 000 years ago and water from glacial Lake Algonquin carved several glacial spillways as it drained south through Rice Lake into glacial Lake Iroquois (present day Lake Ontario). Once much larger, the Otonabee spillway may have carried more water than the St. Lawrence does today. One can see the spillway’s original banks at  greater elevations than the present river banks in several areas.

A wide range of species of vegetation and wildlife have been observed along this path, including mallard ducks, great blue herons, loons, frogs, chipmunks, finches, white cedars, elms, maples, sumacs, robins, hawks and poison ivy (so watch out!). A significant feature adjacent to the trail that protects and displays some of these species is the Centennial Wetland, noted for its cattails and red-winged blackbirds.

Trail Etiquette
Leave only footprints, take only memories
Respect and be courteous to users and adjacent landowners
Keep to the right of the trail
Please keep dogs on a leash and stoop and scoop
Please don’t wander off the main trail or the River Road side trails
No horses or motorized vehicles (except wheelchairs)
Use at your own risk

Further Information

Adams and Taylor (1992) Peterborough and the Kawarthas

McLean (2000) The Fate of Nassau Mills Ontario

Elston (1999) Nelson’s Falls to Lakefield

2000 by John Marsh and Trev Rodie.