Harper Park offers winter enjoyment in your own backyard

By Kim Zippel –

Escaping the salt, sand & slush doldrums of a city winter is easy in the south end of Peterborough because we are blessed with a public park that offers 150 + acres of unspoiled snow to explore on skis and snowshoes.

 

Snowshoeing next to Harper Creek in Peterborough.
The park is perfect for wintertime adventures on skis or snowshoes.

 

A protected natural area, this urban environmental park abounds with wildlife, and the tracks are easy to spot in pristine snow that rarely experiences the tread of human beings.  Leaving your dog at home will increase your chance of seeing the many species of birds and mammals that find winter shelter in Harper Park.

 

Deer tracks in the snow. Photo taken in Harper Park, Peterborough.
Tracks, like these deer hoof prints, are fun and easy to spot in the snow.
Two deer on the edge of Harper Park.
A sizeable deer herd finds annual winter shelter within the park.

Deer trails are very obvious this time of year and rabbit tracks are everywhere.  Pileated woodpeckers, barred owl, wild turkey, ruffed grouse and a variety of hawks, birds rarely seen within urban areas, are year round inhabitants.  Winter months are also a perfect time to note the diversity of trees in the forested areas,  as remarkable bark patterns stand out starkly when the green canopy is absent.

 

 

A wild turkey perches on a tree branch at the edge of Harper Park.
A flock of wild turkeys lives within Harper Park, and adjacent neighbours and motorists are often treated to a glimpse of these large birds when they venture outside of park boundaries.
A close up of a deeply grooved bark pattern on a tree in Harper Park.
Textured bark stands out starkly in the winter forest.

Getting into the park can be a challenge.  The closest transit stop is at the base of Harper Road, via the Major Bennet route 12.  The walk up Harper Road is not pedestrian friendly and no safe trails connect the park to the Visitor Centre, or other parking areas.  

 

If visiting the park by car, you will find limited parking is available on the road leading to the city’s compost area.  A short walk back to Harper Road, and then along the north side of Harper Creek, will lead you to an old farm lane which provides the perfect entry point to the park.  This tree lined pathway opens into an expansive meadow that provides a large area for skiers, and a good workout for those on snowshoes.  From the meadow, you can head south to investigate the lowlands adjacent to the creek, or head up into the cedar forest behind Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School.

Harper Creek in winter, flowing through a forested area of the park.
The lowlands of the park are more easily accessed in winter months.

Although difficult to access, Harper Park remains unique in that it is the only public natural area in Peterborough where you can still make your own trail, and get lost doing so, all the while in the midst of a busy residential and commercial area of our city.

Snowshoeing amid snow covered trees in Harper Park.
Fresh snow blankets the trees adding to the peace and quiet of Harper Park in winter.

 

For a downloadable map of the park visit www.harperpark.ca

 

 

2 thoughts on “Harper Park offers winter enjoyment in your own backyard”

    1. Cute Lloyd! In all seriousness, I have always wanted to dig into the history of the park. From North Monaghan Township files, I did find out that it was indeed a Harper family from England that owned and farmed the original parcel.

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