Rock the Outdoors

This article was originally published in the Chronicle Herald's weekly community papers and has been republished here with their permission.

I lean against a 90-ton boulder and push with all my might, fully convinced that I can move it on my own. I keep telling myself that, as a kid, I know I’d been able to make this stone wobble. Finally I walk over to the lifeguard at the nearby sandy beach on Kidston Lake and ask him if I have the right rock. He assures me I do, but says that even with all his buddies working together they haven’t been able to move it. He suggests that maybe a lever would help.

Lacking a lever I abandon my quest to feel like a superhero by rocking the infamous stone, and head off into the woods to explore. I grew up in Spryfield and learned to ride my bike on the trail from Rockingstone Road, its namesake, to Kidston Lake, back before it was developed; but the park has been a popular destination for a lot longer than that. In the Victorian times people would visit the park and climb up on the rocking stone to have a picnic. It was something of a natural wonder in those days, and still is pretty impressive, albeit less well known, today.

Apparently over the years, as the park had more visitors, the rock had a lot of people testing it out and eventually it settled into a more stable position that requires a lot of effort to make it literally rock. But, still, if you succeed, you’re rocking a 20-foot high chunk of granite that the glaciers left behind! Totally worth the effort for the street cred of that alone.

The trail system is only a couple kilometres long, making it an ideal trek for anyone to enjoy. Evidence of the glaciers’ path is clear in here. There are scratches of granite in and out of the ground and random large chunks of rock overlooking the water. I can easily envision spreading out a blanket and enjoying a picnic on one of those boulders. I realize quickly though that it’s definitely NOT a route I should be instagramming the beauty of while walking on, as the surface can be painfully unpredictable.

Along the route are many side paths that I pop down to explore. Some take me right to the water’s edge giving me a private, spectacular view of Kidston Lake. Others send me deeper into the woods or deposit me into a nearby schoolyard or neighbourhood. Because of its location in a residential area it’s really peaceful and quiet on the trail and the only noises I hear, besides the crunch of rocks under my feet, are the distant giggles and splashes of children playing in the lake.

As I finish my walk, I make a mental note to come back in the winter to snowshoe the trails and skate on the lake, but I’ll make another stop in autumn, before the snow falls, and this time I’ll be sure to pack a lever (and perhaps a red cape) to try to conquer that rocking stone.

Kidston Lake and the surrounding park can be accessed from the end of Greystone Drive or Fieldstone Street.