Starkey Hill Trail is an interpretive hiking trail near Guelph, Ontario, located on Arkell Road between Watson Road and Concession 11, in Puslinch Township. It’s not overly large but it offers some of the best views and light hiking trails in the Guelph area.
We’ve hiked here numerous times as it’s close to where we live and a quieter spot than our other favourite spot – Crawford Lake.
Starkey Hill Trail was named after the Starkey family that had purchased land in the area in the mid-19th century. The land was transformed into a public-use trail and is maintained by the Grand River Conservation Authority.
A Favourite Hiking Trail Near Guelph
We often go hiking at Starkey Hill Trail at various times of the year. However, in the summer, you get the best experience.
The first time I experienced the Starkey Hill loop was when my husband Frank and I had just started dating. We went hiking at Starkey Hill on a summer weekday. We did a total of approximately 4 km, round trip. My trusty little point and shoot camera was out most of the time. I was making many stops along the way to take a photo of a beautiful flower or scene.
Getting outdoors on a short trail such as the one at Starkey Hill, is my favourite way to balance out my love of food.
Weekday hikes at Starkey Hill mean fewer people on the trail. If you are looking for little trail traffic, it’s the best time to go. Otherwise, you can enjoy a quiet hike if you arrive very early in the morning.
Spring Hikes Can Be Muddy at Starkey Hill
Just before Victoria Day weekend in 2013, we had the itch to get outdoors. After a miserable and long winter, we decided to get some fresh air at Starkey Hill.
The last time we had been on this trail it was summertime – the trees were in full foliage and the ground and bogs were fairly dry. During the spring time, its quite different.
The first thing I realized as we started on the trail, at about 9 a.m. in the morning, is that Victoria Day Weekend reminds people of the outdoors. We were not alone on the trails: families, couples and people walking their dogs passed us or walked in front or behind us.
The second thing about the Starkey Hill trail is that it can be extremely muddy in the spring-time in low-lying spots. Add to that almost a week’s worth of rain in the days leading up to our visit and you have one soggy hike! Prepare to have mud splatter all over your boots and the back of your legs.
Winding Trail and Light Green Everywhere
Although there are many conifers, there are also hardwood trees. Everywhere you look is light green – from the new leaves on trees and bushes to the fresh moss climbing up from the base of tree trunks. Even some of the fungus is light green.
Our hike was after the ice storm of December 2013 that affected so many areas of Southern Ontario. Although Guelph wasn’t as hard hit as areas east of there, some of the trees did show damage from the rough winter.
Exercising Your Butt at Starkey Hill Trail
What makes the hiking trail at Starkey Hill a great place to hike is the variety of foliage, the scenery and the moderate level of exercise you get. There were times during our visit that we had to stop and take a moment to catch our breath. We climbed several hills which we like to call “Heartbreak Ridge”. Perhaps we are just a bit out of shape.
As there are many hardwood trees, this area is lovely in the fall. A trip in early October is a must.
Starkey Hill is the highest point in Puslinch Township. It offers a great view of Guelph, so anybody with a great digital SLR camera with telephoto lens can certainly enjoy taking some great shots.
Tips For Hiking the Starkey Hill Trail
The trail at Starkey Hill isn’t very long – it’s approximately 4 km. However, you may want to bring a small snack and a bottle of water with you, particularly if you are hiking with children.
Good hiking shoes are a must, as some areas are slightly rocky.
I noted that our visit was during a busy weekend, when many people were on the trail. Please keep in mind trail etiquette and move to the side to let people pass if you plan on doing a slow walk.
601-805 Arkell Rd, Arkell – near Guelph, Ontario
Do you have a story of hiking at Starkey Hill? What’s your favourite spot on the trail?
Until next time!