Location: 1307 Geeza Road, Gelert, Township of Minden Hills, County of Haliburton
Donor: The Dahl Family (Peter Dahl, Peggy Dahl, and Nana McKernan)
Trial Map: Please click here to access the trail map
Property Size: 500 acres
Acquisition Date: December 23, 2009
Features: 7 hiking trails (total of 5km), forests, wetland, open areas, bisected by the Burnt River
Activities: hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, birding, plein air painting, photography, bird watching
Not Allowed: cycling, motorized vehicles (including snowmobiles and ATVs), hunting, fires, overnight camping, harvesting and/or disturbing flora and fauna
Trail Safety & Etiquette: Please take only memories and leave only footprints! Dogs must be on a leash, so they don’t disturb sensitive flora and fauna habitats. Please clean up after them, do not leave anything on the trails, and take dog waste bags home for disposal.
On Tuesday, May 12, 2009, Peter Dahl, representing his mother Peggy Dahl and sister Nana McKernan, announced the family’s intention to donate the Dahl Forest (approximately 500 acres) to the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust. Peter explained that the decision to donate the land to the larger community was based on the family’s reluctance to sell the land they loved. “We spent over fifty years of tree planting, conservation and preserving that property … how could we sell it at any price? It’s inconceivable to me, and my sister and certainly to my mother. The property is part of my soul and its part of my mother’s and my sister’s souls.”
On December 23, 2009, under the federal government’s Ecological Gifts Program, the Dahl Family formally passed the stewardship torch to the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust when title of the Dahl Forest was transferred from the landowners, Peter Dahl and his sister Nana McKernan to the Land Trust. Peggy Dahl, the family matriarch, was instrumental in encouraging the transfer of ownership.
The Dahl family retains a life interest in the property. This allows them to continue using the family home and the property as they always have. When visiting the property, please be respectful of the Dahl family’s continuing residency.
Watch this video for more on the Dahl Forest.
William Dahl bought the property in the early 1950s. At that time, it was abandoned farmland with depleted soil, crisscrossed with collapsed barbed wire fences where cattle scrounged for what little feed remained on the land. In the years following, the family planted more than 100,000 trees in plantations covering about 40 per cent of the property. The remaining acreage was left to regenerate naturally and has returned to wilderness. The property has been a model of conservation planning and the Land Trust was honoured to be chosen to continue the excellent stewardship of the Dahl family.
If you are interested in donating land to the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust, please click here for more information.
Enjoy this five-minute video featuring the train ride from Lindsay to Gelert. This was filmed by William Dahl, father of Peter Dahl and Nana McKernan who are the donors of Dahl Forest. Quite a treat!
Dahl Forest is home to many species representative of the County of Haliburton. Visitors can often find evidence of moose and deer and hear the tapping of Pileated Woodpeckers and the drumming of Ruffed Grouse. However Dahl Forest also provides habitat for a number of rare and at-risk species, both locally and provincially. In 2011, the Common Sanddragon, one of the rarest dragonflies in Canada, was found at Dahl Forest. Turtlehead, Blue Vervian and Swamp Milkweed, all relatively uncommon in the County of Haliburton, can be found along parts of the shoreline of the Burnt River. The Burnt River flows through the property for 2.7 km.
A mixed forest comprises almost half of the property. It includes a high component of shade intolerant species such as Trembling Aspen and White Birch indicating that this forest compartment is in a relatively early successional stage of forest development.
The property also includes a small Sugar Maple/Basswood forest and a natural red and white pine forest. Plantations form a little over a fifth of the property. Red Pine and Jack Pine were planted in 1930 to prevent erosion. Between 1957 and 1961, 107,000 trees (Red Pine, White Spruce, Scots Pine, White Pine, Tamarack) were planted by the Dahl family.
There are 2 large open water marshes on the property and a few areas of thicket swamp along the shoreline of the Burnt River.
A few small open areas provide habitat for those species, both at-risk and common, that bask in the sunshine and/or forage in open fields.
The Dahl Forest Management Committee (DFMC) reports to the HHLT Board and organizes a group of volunteers, Dahl Forest Property Monitors, who visit the Forest bi-weekly to ensure the security and well-being of the property. To find out more about volunteering, please click here.
The Land Trust has developed a long-term management plan for Dahl Forest. Conservation goals include:
- protecting and maintaining biodiversity
- protecting and enhancing the natural features of the property including wildlife habitat
- protecting and maintaining habitat for identified species of significance: Species at Risk, and provincially and locally rare species
- promoting water quality and riparian habitat through the protection of shorelines and wetlands
- promoting succession from plantations to forests
- monitoring forests regularly to promote forest health
- Conserving forests that capture and store carbon in trees and soils thereby mitigating the effects of climate change
- promoting ecology and conservation education by providing opportunities for research and nature appreciation
Read this slide deck to learn more about Haliburton County’s first Bioblitz held at Dahl Forest and access several short videos.
Location, Trails and Parking
Click here to open Google Maps.
Dahl Forest is located at 1307 Geeza Rd, off Gelert Rd (County Rd 1) just 5 km south of Gelert. It is 20-25 minutes south of Haliburton or 15-20 minutes southeast of Minden.
From Minden: Take South Lake Road and turn right onto Gelert Road (County Road 1). After about 8 km turn left onto Geeza Road. Follow signs to Dahl Forest.
From Haliburton: Take Gelert Road (County Road 1). After about 27 km turn left onto Geeza Road. Follow the signs to Dahl Forest.
Please click here to access the trail map.
There is parking on Geeza Road, near the trail head. Please do not block the gate or the end of the road at the snow plow turnaround in winter.
HHLT has partnered with experience experts at Yours Outdoors to offer guided hikes of Dahl Forest.
Click Here to visit their website where you can find more information and book your guided hike or snowshoe.
The Haliburton Highlands Land Trust wishes to thank the following:
- Peter Dahl, Peggy Dahl, and Nana McKernan for the donation of Dahl Forest through Environment Canada’s Ecological Gifts Program
- Winterfest and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for their financial assistance with trail development and signage