Discovering my backyard: Ontario

Ontario Adventures
map of provincial parks

***COVID-19 has affected the use of the parks – so check online before venturing out regarding any restrictions. Some parks are closed, and some of the facilities including washrooms are closed as well***



Click here to read my tips/recommendations

Follow me on Instagram
for more photos and videos
from my adventures!

Explored and written by Monica Ng

What to know before you go.

My review of Ontario parks, conservation areas, forests, trails, falls and places that I have visited. More to come…

Canada is such a beautiful country with so much to offer in terms of the great outdoors. However, since I live in Ontario, I will explore my backyard in this post. I plan to expand this post as I check out new places, so check back frequently for more adventures.

I spend a lot of time deciding where to go by searching online for photos, comments and reviews posted by others – so now is my time to give back. I thought it would be helpful to indicate the location with the name of each place so you can quickly zone in on an area that you want to visit based on the location. The reality is that our lives are busy and some days we only have time for a local trip. I definitely spent a lot of time digging up my photos and putting together this post, but sharing my love of the outdoors and my adventures was my goal. It is also a great chance for me to scrapbook my adventures. I hope you will find time to check out some of these places. Keep me posted on your adventures!

For those of you with kids, I put “KID” next to the places that I believe are more kid-friendly. And my favourites are noted in bold on the list (and I added an “M” in the heading as well).

My current TOP 5!

Clockwise from left: Bruce Peninsula National Park, Killarney Provincial Park, Point Pelee National Park, Oxtongue River-Ragged Falls Provincial Park and McCrae Lake Nature Reserve

Southwestern (7)

Awenda Provincial Park (Simcoe County) – KID
Bruce Peninsula National Park
Earl Rowe Provincial Park (Alliston)
Flowerpot Island (Tobermory)
Forks of the Credit Provincial Park (Caledon)
Mono Cliffs Provincial Park (Mono)
Point Pelee National Park (Essex County) –KID

York Region (38)

Beaver Creek trail (Richmond Hill)
Bendor and Graves Tract (East Gwillimbury)
Bond Lake (Richmond Hill)
Boyd Conservation Park (Vaughan)
Brown Hill Tract (East Gwillimbury)
Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve (Newmarket)
Dave Kerwin Trail (Newmarket)
Elder’s Mills Nature Reserve (Vaughan)
Eldred King Woodlands Tract (Stouffville)
Four Winds Parkette (Richmond Hill) –KID
German Mills Settlers Park (Markham)
Holland Landing Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve (E.Gwillimbury)
Jefferson Forest (Richmond Hill)
Joker’s Hill (King City/Newmarket)
Milne Dam Conservation Park (Markham)
Moraine Park (Richmond Hill)
Nokaiida Trail (East Gwillimbury)
Oak Ridges Corridor (Richmond Hill)
Pefferlaw Tract (Georgina)
Phyllis Rawlinson park (Richmond Hill)
Pomona Mills Park (Markham)
Porritt Tract (York Regional Forest) (Stouffville)
Richmond Green Sports Centre and Park (Richmond Hill) –KID
Rogers Reservoir Conservation Area (East Gwillimbury)
Rouge National Urban Park (Markham)
Rouge River Trail at Coco/Shirley (Richmond Hill)
Rouge River Trail at Yorkland/Loyal Blue (Richmond Hill)
Scout Tract -York Regional Forest (Stouffville)
Saigeon Trail (Richmond Hill)
Sheppard’s Bush Conservation Area (Aurora)
Sugarbush Heritage Trail (Vaughan)
Thornton Bales Conservation Area (King City)
Tom Taylor Trail (Newmarket)
Toogood Pond (Markham)
Vellore Village Woodlot 6 (Vaughan)
Wilcox (Lake)(Richmond Hill) – KID
Whitchurch/Stouffville Conservation Area (Stouffville)
Zephyr Tract (East Gwillimbury)

Simcoe Region

J. B. Tudhope Memorial Park (Orillia) – KID

Grey County

Blue Mountain

Lake Simcoe

Scanlon Creek Conservation Area (Bradford)

King City (3)

Happy Valley Tract
Mary Lake
King City Trail

Elora

Elora Gorge (Grand River Conservation Authority)

-105-

*Borer’s Falls (Hamilton)*

Rating: 3.0 stars
Would I go again? Probably not.
Time I spent there: 3 hours
https://tourismhamilton.com/borers-falls

Highlights: Borer’s Falls.
Parking: Yes. Parking lot at the gardens.
Admission/parking cost: Yes. Parking machine.
Plumbing: No.
Challenging trail? Easy.

My comments: I was bored on the trail (not much to see), but falls are always nice. I went when the water volume was low, so falls are not as impressive. Nice that you can stand at the top of the falls though. Saw my first bull frog.

Back to top

*Stouffville/Whitchurch Conservation Area*

Rating: 3.0 stars
Would I go again? Probably not.
Time I spent there: 1.5 hours
https://www.lsrca.on.ca/enjoytheoutdoors/conservationareas/whitchurch

Highlights: Forest. Pond?
Parking: Yes. Parking Lot.
Admission/parking cost: Not sure. There are indications that you have to pay, but no parking machines for payment.
Plumbing: No.
Challenging trail? Easy.

My comments: It’s nice to walk in a forest, but there wasn’t much special about this one. I saw maple trees, red pine, white cedar, spruce and lots of trilliums. The trilliums all over the forest floor was probably the highlight of this trail.

Back to top

*Gould Lake Conservation Area (North Frontenac)*

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Probably if I was in the area.
Time I spent there: 5.5 hours
Approx. 2h45m from Toronto
https://cataraquiconservation.ca/pages/gould-lake

  • Gould Lake
  • Gould Lake

Highlights: Gould Lake, Blue Lake, Cronk Lake and historical Mica Mine.
Parking: Yes. Small parking lot.
Admission/parking cost: The area’s website and the signs on-site indicate that there is a parking fee, but when I went the gatehouse was closed and there were no parking meters nor any pay online through an APP option. The staff replied to an email saying that access to the park was free. This could change at any time, so be prepared to pay.
Plumbing: Looks like there were portable toilets near the beach/picnic area.
Challenging trail? Medium to difficult. Trails are not paved. Rooty dirt trails with elevation in some areas. The Rideau trail is the least travelled as evidenced by the overgrowth of plants/weeds.

My comments: There is a trail map fixed to the barn (I posted it here in the slides), which unfortunately I didn’t see it until the very end of my trip! Other than that there are a few signs along the trails showing where you are. There are mulitple trails making up 20km – which is one of the reasons I picked this conservation area to visit. I tend to stay away from mentions of short trails because it’s not worth my travel time. You’ll walk on Canadian Shield rocks along part of the trail. If you like dragonflys – there were tons of them. If you like black flies and mosquitoes – there is no shortage of them. My only recommendation – use bug spray or wear a bug jacket. The real highlight of the trip were the Mica Mines (take the Mica Loop which can be accessed through the unmarked and almost hidden Rideau Trail to the left of the beach/barn). According to the area’s website, the area was mined for mica (a mineral with a glazed finish) for about 30 years and the mines were closed in 1912. You can hike towards Ottawa by taking the Rideau Trail. I should have researched my trip more before heading out – could have brought my inflatable kayak.

Back to top

*Tommy Thompson Park (Toronto)*

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes.
Time I spent there: about 2.5 hours including biking onto Cherry St. My second visit, I spent about 4.5 hours there.
www.tommythompsonpark.ca

  • Tommy Thompson Park
  • Tommy Thompson Park
  • Tommy Thompson Park
  • Tommy Thompson Park
  • Tommy Thompson Park

Highlights: Lake Ontario, view of the downtown Toronto’s skyline (including the CN Tower) from across the lake, wetlands, lighthouse and cormorant nesting area.
Parking: Yes. Parking Lot.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Plumbing: Yes. Portable toilets.
Challenging trail? Easy. Flat paved trail.
Restrictions: No dogs allowed on trail.

My comments: Great trail for biking and walking along Lake Ontario. At the tip of the trail, you’ll find an old whimsical lighthouse. I believe the main trail is about 10 km return. From a distance you can hear very loud bird sounds. I had to get closer to track down the source of the noise. At the end of one of the many short trails into a wooded area, there’s an incredible nesting area with Cormorant’s circulating all over and others sitting in their nests – a surreal experience. If you look around you will probably see geese, swans and white/great egrets. Bird watchers paradise. According to the park’s website, over 300 species of birds have been sighted.

Back to top

*German Mills Settlers Park (Markham)*

Rating: 3.5 stars
Would I go again? Yes.
Time I spent there: 45 minutes.

  • German Mills Creek

Highlights: German Mills Creek.
Parking: Yes. Residential street parking but very limited, then you have to walk a bit to trail.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Plumbing: No.
Challenging trail? Easy. Paved trail.

My comments: A nice local trail shared with cyclists beside the German Mills Creek. Both times that I went, it was overcast. I solved the mystery as I walked to the end of the trail (from John St). The other trailhead is at the dead end of Leslie St. and Steeles Ave. – I always wondered what was there as I saw bikers heading that way.

Back to top

*Vellore Village Woodlot 6 (Vaughan)*

Rating: 2.5 stars
Would I go again? No, but it’s a good spot for locals to get a touch of nature.
Time I spent there: 20 minutes.

  • Vallore Woodlot
  • Vellore Village Woodlot 6

Highlights: Forest.
Parking: No parking was visible to me. Locals may be access trail from the residential streets, but otherwise have to park on a side street and walk about 10 minutes to one of the trailheads.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Plumbing: No.
Challenging trail? Easy. Compact dirt trail.

My comments: I saw a trailhead as I was driving home from Elder’s Mills Nature Reserve. Had to check it out. It’s a nice short trail – which is great for locals.

Back to top

*Elder’s Mills Nature Reserve (Vaughan)* (M)

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes.
Time I spent there: about 1 hour

  • Elder's Mills Nature Reserve
  • Elder's Mills Nature Reserve

Highlights: Wetlands and Humber River.
Parking: Yes. Residential street parking.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Plumbing: No.
Challenging trail? Easy. Mixed paved, compact dirt/grass trail.

My comments: Another gem tucked into a residential area. There’s nothing like being surrounded by birdsong and beautiful wetlands. The short trail leads to a bridge spanning across the Humber River.

Back to top

*Pefferlaw Tract (Georgina)* (M)

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes.
Time I spent there: about 2.5 hours
www.york.ca

  • Pefferlaw Tract
  • Pefferlaw Tract
  • pefferlaw tract

Highlights: Forest, Pefferlaw River and Wetlands.
Parking: Yes. Small parking lot.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Plumbing: No.
Challenging trail? Easy. Compact dirt trail.

My comments: This forest is one of the 22 public York Regional Forest Tracts. Most of the tracts that I’ve visited so far are massive forests without water. The wetlands and river made this hike special. I’ve mentioned before that “tracts” are multi-use trails, so expect to find some horse poop (as they decompose they look like lumps of yellow grass – don’t mistaken those for dried grass!). A large section of the trail is flanked with white cedars. You’ll also find a section with a lot of red pine. Another great place to spend time in nature.

Back to top

*Brown Hill Tract (East Gwillimbury)* (M)

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes.
Time I spent there: about 2.5 hours
www.york.ca

  • Brown Hill Tract
  • Brown Hill Tract

Highlights: Forest. A hemlock lovers paradise.
Parking: Yes. Small parking lot.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Plumbing: No.
Challenging trail? Easy. Compact dirt trail.

My comments: This forest is one of the York Regional Forests. I feel that I’m part of this forest when I’m walking on the trails, because the paths aren’t wide. You can touch the trees without going off trail – a very enjoyable hike. This trail has a lot of unique bridge crossings and if you love hemlocks like me – this is the forest to visit. There were a lot of bikers when I went – so beware when you go.

Back to top

*Rockway Conservation Area (St. Catharines)*

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes.
Time I spent there: about 3 1/2 hours.
https://npca.ca/parks/rockway

  • rockway conservation area

Highlights: Waterfalls, bridge at the upper falls, Niagara Escarpment, Bruce Trail (Niagara section).
Parking: According to the website, limited parking can be found off 9th Avenue on “escarpment tablelands”. I never found that parking area, but parked in the community centre parking lot (but shouldn’t have because it’s private property).
Admission/parking cost: No.
Plumbing: No, but probably at the community centre if it’s open.
Challenging trail? Dirt trail and rocky terrain. Some areas have some elevation. The area around the upper falls is rocky and slippery when wet.

My comments: A beautiful way to spend a morning. A real body, mind and soul experience climbing up and down escarpment rock. I was told by a local that from one area of the Bruce Trail, you can see the downtown Toronto on a clear day. A section of the Bruce Trail runs through privately owned land (right next to a shooting range!) but the land owner generously allows hikers to access the trail. The upper falls are stunning – and you can get pretty close to them without getting soaked.

Back to top

*Huckleberry Rock Lookout Trail (Muskoka)*

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes.
Time I spent there: about 2 hours
https://www.discovermuskoka.ca/things-to-do/hiking-trails/huckleberry-rock-lookout-trail/

  • Huckleberry Rock Lookout Trail
  • Huckleberry Rock lookout trail

Highlights: Set foot on the oldest rocks in the world. Leaning white pines. View of Muskoka Lakes.
Parking: Yes. Parking lot.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Plumbing: No.
Challenging trail? No.

My comments: A beautiful place with a spectacular view of the Muskoka Lakes. Walking on the massive sheets of rock is amazing. For the amount of elevation of the lookout, the trail leading to it is surprisingly not steep. There are A LOT of benches.

Back to top

*Bendor and Graves Tract (East Gwillimbury)*

Rating: 3.0 stars
Would I go again? Probably not.
Time I spent there: about 2 hours
http://www.oakridgestrail.org/moraine/trail-map/bendor-and-graves-tract-kennedy-road/

  • Bendor and Graves Tract

Highlights: Forest.
Parking: Yes. Dead-end parking area.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Plumbing: No.
Challenging trail? No. Compact dirt trails, some wood chips.

My comments: I like the forest tracts because they are massive. It looked (and smelled) like a lot of trees were recently cut down. The trails are not marked and there are trails all over the place – so it’s easy to get lost. I recommend that you bring a compass just in case. Love the old red pine trees stretching high into the sky.

Back to top

*Glen Eagles Vista (Toronto)*

Rating: 3.0 stars
Would I go again? No.
Time I spent there: about 1 hour
https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/on/rouge/activ/randonnee-hiking/gleneagles

  • Glen Eagles Vista Trail
  • Glen Eagles Vista Trail

Highlights: Vista view. Rouge River.
Parking: Yes. Parking lot.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Plumbing: No.
Challenging trail? No. Unless you go down into the valley.

My comments: This trail is part of the Rouge Urban National Park – Canada’s newest National Park protecting what’s left of nature within the city. There are many trails that form part of the park and can be found in Toronto and Markham. This particular section is near the Toronto Zoo.

The lookout view is beautiful, but the trail is super-short and not very scenic. I was disappointed and bored. I thought there was a body of water in the distance, but turns out they are bluffs. Stubborn as I am when searching for trails, I decided to go straight down into the valley on snowshoes. As I was going down, I debated myself – was I going to roll all the way down in the snow? But determination can go a long way…I went down at an angle and made it safely. Then I headed back to the top, took off my snowshoes and walked closer to the bluffs (they are on the other side of a sloped road at the bridge) to chill near the Rouge River. Walking along the road made me feel like a hitchhiker. It was a bit creepy to have a van slow down next to me. But this extra part of the adventure made it exciting!

Back to top

*Rouge Urban National Park (Toronto)* @ Morningside

Rating: 3.5 stars
Would I go again? Maybe.
Time I spent there: 1 hour
https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/on/rouge

  • Rouge Urban National Park Vista Trail
  • Rouge Urban National Park Vista Trail

Highlights: View of the vista.
Parking: Yes. Parking lot, but I believe it belongs to the Toronto Zoo. Not sure if park visitors are allowed to park there.
Admission/parking cost: Yes, but I didn’t see any parking machines.
Plumbing: No.
Challenging trail? I did the Vista Trail. Not challenging, except a section where you may lose your breath a bit. Dirt trail.

My comments: The trail is very open, which I generally do not enjoy, but the Vista Trail has a nice view looking into the valley. This particular trail is part loop and part dead-end. I didn’t have a chance to explore the other trails because I had already done the Glen Eagles Vista Trail which is about a 2 minute drive from this section of the Rouge Urban National Park.

Back to top

*Niagara Glen Nature Reserve (Niagara Falls)* (M)

Rating: 5.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes, how soon?
Time I spent there: 6 hours
https://www.niagaraparks.com/visit/nature-garden/niagara-glen/

  • Niagara Glen Trails and River
  • Niagara Glen trails and River

Highlights: Niagara River, escarpment, bouldering, fishing, beautiful trails, whirlpool, stairway and view from the top.
Parking: Yes. Parking lot.
Admission/parking cost: Yes. Parking machine. Pay hourly rates or seasonal rate (I believe seasonal rate is an option, but I didn’t look carefully). I paid $15.00 for about 6 hours. I believe that there is a QR scan code option for payment as well.
Plumbing: Yes.
Challenging trail? There are some dirt trails that are easy walking. Whirlpool Trail and part of the River Trail are more challenging with rock (small and large) covered surface. Expect to climb up some rocks.

My comments: The rocks! The river! The blue-green water! The blue sky! The floating melted ice! The white seagulls circling above the river and geese chilling in the water! The climb around and between massive boulders and strategically placed rock stairs! Say no more, I’m out of exclamation marks…I left my heart behind in that magical place. I stupidly paid for 4 hours figuring I’d be done by then. By the time I got to the whirlpool area I figured that I had to turn around and pay for more parking so that I could explore the other part of the Cliffside Trail. Thus the climb up the 72 step stairway twice. At the whirlpool area, I even got to inhale some free weed blowing in the air. If I do say so – a “highly” recommended place.

Below is a trail map in case you want to take a look before you go.

trail map Niagara Glen
Back to top

*Lynde Shores Conservation Area (Whitby)* (M)

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again: Yes.
Time I spent there: 3 hours

  • Lynde Shores Conservation Area
  • Lynde Shores Conservation Area

Highlights: Wildlife, Lake Ontario, Cranberry Marsh and wetlands.
Parking: Yes. Parking lot with limited parking.
Admission/parking cost: Yes. I paid $6.00 for a day.
Plumbing: No.
Challenging trail? Easy. Paved trail.

My comments: Wildlife galore in a relatively small area. I saw white-tailed deer, wild turkey, blue jays, black-capped chickadees, a downy woodpecker, nuthatch, cardinal and chipping sparrow. Did I mention I saw deer?! The first time I saw deer (aside from the zoo) was at Awenda Provincial Park. Two babies were feeding off their mother on the road side. This time, I saw about fifteen deer. It’s so magical seeing them in their natural habitat. I took the forest trail instead of the main paved trail and saw some deer running into the meadow. It was a bit scary because I wasn’t too close to them, but with the ice and snow crunching underneath my feet, they saw/heard me. A few of them started to charge in my direction. Of course that was my cue to very quickly duck back into the forest! Take caution near wildlife. They are not predictable. I was walking along the main trail and saw three wild turkeys. They are beautiful and huge birds. A reminder why I don’t eat turkey!

The birds however, aren’t afraid of people because people feed them. I got some up-close photos of a gorgeous downy woodpecker because he was busy eating a peanut. There are posted signs warning people not to feed the wildlife (but they say it’s ok to feed seeds to the song birds), which is generally a good rule as it disturbs the natural order of things (as per their sign says feeding them can “lead to human injury, animal overpopulation and disease”). People don’t understand the consequences and still feed junk to the wildlife.

There is a lot of variety of landscape at this conservation area, including forest, wetlands and Lake Ontario.

The conservation area is currently under construction at Hall Road to construct a larger parking lot and add wetlands.

Back to top

*Rouge River Trail at Coco Avenue & Shirley Drive (Richmond Hill)*

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again: Yes.
Time I spent there: 20-30 minutes

  • Rouge River Trail

Highlights: Rouge River, bridge, storm water reserve, ducks.
Parking: Yes. Residential street parking.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trail? Easy. Paved trail.

My comments: I visit this trail very often. I’ve enjoyed watching the changes in the landscape as the seasons change. It’s not a long trail, but walking off the main trail (very short walk) toward the river is rewarding. The ducks like to hang out in the water near the massive tree. That area is also where you’ll find rushing water over a small man-made dam. The view from the storm water reserve is absolutely stunning most of the year, especially at sunrise. I highly recommend that you go catch the sunrise there.

Back to top

*Rouge River Trail at Yorkland Street & Loyal Blue Crescent (Richmond Hill)*

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again: Yes.
Time I spent there: 30-45 minutes

  • Part of Rouge River Trail
  • Rouge River Trail

Highlights: Rouge River, forest, bridges, Newberry Wetlands Park and ducks.
Parking: Yes. Residential street parking (I normally park on Loyal Blue Crescent and walk over to the trailhead which is just north of it).
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trail? Easy. Paved trail.

My comments: I only recently discovered this part of the Rouge River. It’s another of the many gems in Richmond Hill. The forest is beautiful along the trail. As you walk along the main trail, you’ll reach the wetlands (basically a few ponds). Ducks like to hang out there as well.

Back to top

*Rogers Reservoir Conservation Area (East Gwillimbury)*

Rating: 3.5 stars
Would I go again? Maybe.
Time I spent there: approx. 1.5 hours
https://www.lsrca.on.ca/rogers-reservoir

  • Rogers Reservoir Conservation Area
  • Rogers Reservoir Conservation Area

Location: East Gwillimbury
Highlights: Holland River, forest and swing bridge.
Parking: Yes, but limited.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trails? Easy.
Plumbing: No.

My comments: I once joined a Richmond Hill hiking club organized through the community centre. We went to this trail, but I wasn’t too impressed – as it’s very open (not a covered forest) and there are a lot of electrical cables that run above parts of the trail. Recently I decided to re-visit this conservation area because I drove past it on the way to the Dave Kerwin Trail. This time, I walked the trail on snowshoes. The winter landscape was definitely the highlight. If you follow the loop, you’ll get to a section where the trail meets up with the Nokaiida Trail boardwalk.

Back to top

*Dave Kerwin Trail (Newmarket)*

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes.
Time I spent there: approx. 1 hour.
www.york.ca

  • Dave Kerwin Trail

Location: Newmarket.
Highlights: Holland River and forest.
Parking: Yes. Residential street, but no parking directly in front of the trailhead. Watch for the no parking signs.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trails? Easy.
Plumbing: No.

My comments: A hidden gem in a residential area. If you cut through the forest rather than take the main path, you’ll find yourself surrounded by a dense forest. The birch trees and red cedars are absolutely stunning. The river was frozen and covered with snow when I went, but I’m sure it would bring the forest alive when it’s flowing.

Back to top

*Zephyr Tract (East Gwillimbury)*

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes.
Time I spent there: approx. 2 hours
www.york.ca

  • Zephyr Tract
  • Zephyr Tract
  • Zephyr Tract

Location: East Gwillimbury.
Highlights: Forest.
Parking: Yes. Big parking lot, fits about 40 cars.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trails? Easy.
Plumbing: No.

My comments: First time at this tract. The winter landscape is especially gorgeous. A magical place worth checking out. The straight path took about 45 minutes one way on snowshoes including the time to take photos. The trail is not a loop. I didn’t get a chance to explore the second trail. I like the density of the forest.

Back to top

*Eldred King Woodlands Tract (Stouffville)* (M)

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes.
Time I spent there: approx. 2 hours.
http://www.oakridgestrail.org/moraine/trail-map/elder-king/

Location: Stouffville. Approximately 30 minutes from Toronto.
Highlights: Forest, streams and pond.
Parking: Yes, but limited.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trails? Easy unless you want to climb up the hills on the side of the trails.
Plumbing: No.

My comments: What struck me most was the impressive scale of this forest and the variety of trees (including maple, red oak, red pine and beech trees). I didn’t have a chance to explore the entire tract or see any water, but this is by far the biggest local forest I’ve been to. The trails are wide and I believe they call the forest a “tract” because it’s multi-use (cross-country skiing, hiking, etc.). I know that the Scout Tract (York Regional Forest) allows for horses (that one has lots of horse dung). Overall a very nice walk in the forest.

Back to top

*Terra Cotta Conservation Area (Halton Hills)*

Rating: 3.0 stars
Would I go again? No.
Time I spent there: approx. 2.0 hours.
https://ontarioconservationareas.ca/component/mtree/conservation-authorities/credit-valley/terra-cotta-conservation-area

Location: Halton Hills. Approximately 1 hour from Toronto.
Highlights: Wetlands, valley, terra cotta clay lined creek and forest.
Parking: Yes, but limited.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trails? Easy and moderate.
Plumbing: Yes.

My comments: When I went, the compacted snow on the trails made things very slippery. Crampons would have been a plus that time! There are several trails (of different lengths) to explore – but during the winter months two trails are reserved for cross-country skiing (including one around a lake). I took one of the short loop trails and it was through a re-forestation section (pictured top left) and I tried my best to climb up a slippery slope (second photo from the left) to check out the view on the Escarpment trail. I hung onto trees on my way up and was highly disappointed that there was no view. While it was nice to be outdoors, there was nothing special about this area. I left disappointed and ready to hike somewhere else.

Back to top

*Short Hills Provincial Park (Dunnville)*

Rating: 3.5 stars
Would I go again? Maybe, because of Swayze Falls.
Time I spent there: approx. 3 hours.
https://www.ontarioparks.com/park/shorthills

  • Short Hills Provincial Park
  • Short Hills Provincial Park
  • Short Hill Provincial Park

Location: Located in Dunnville. Approximately 1 hour 45 minutes from Toronto.
Highlights: Swayze Falls, Twelve Mile Creek and forest.
Parking: Yes, but limited.
Admission/parking cost: No. This is not an operational Provincial Park.
Challenging trails? Challenging in some sections toward the falls.
Plumbing: No.

My comments: The trail was a bit challenging when I went because it was extremely muddy. It was hard to walk along the trail. I was lucky that it snowed a bit because it helped to solidify the mud and give some grip. I clung onto trees to make sure I didn’t land in the mud. The trail was pretty open (not forested), which I don’t enjoy as much. The openness reminds me a bit of Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. The highlight of this trip was definitely Swayze Falls.

Back to top

*Thickson’s Point (Whitby)* (M)

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes, I’ve been there 3 times since I discovered it.
Time I spent there: approx. 2 hours.
There’s no specific website for this area, but a one minute walk from the waterfront trail, is Thickson’s Woods.
http://www.thicksonswoods.com/

  • Thickson's Point Whitby
  • Thickson's Point Whitby
  • Thickson's Point
  • Thickson's Point Whitby
  • Thickson's Point Whitby

Location: Located in Whitby. Approximately 30 minutes from Toronto.
Highlights: Lake Ontario, beach and cliffs.
Parking: Yes, but limited.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trails? Easy.
Plumbing: No.

My comments: The trail along the cliff can be dangerous as it’s eroding, but there’s a wide paved walkway that runs close to the lake as well – which is great for walking and biking. From what I can tell, it looks like an extensive trail. I love water. What I love even more than water is sunrise and sunset by the water. This trail is particularly beautiful when it is covered with snow. Part of the beach is covered in rocks, so be prepared to test your balance! There’s a section that even has a mini waterfall with water flowing into Lake Ontario. Walking along the beach is always relaxing. You’ll find geese, seagulls and swans chilling in the lake.

Just a minute walk from the Waterfront Trail is Thickson’s Woods, a privately owned land. The land owners graciously allow everyone to enjoy a beautiful piece of nature within an industrial zone. They ask that people do not post photos or location. The woods are famous for their owls. I was not lucky enough to see one, but I did see chickadees and cardinals. If you are interested in helping to protect the land – you can make a donation or buy a gift certificate for someone, checkout their website www.thicksonswoods.com.

Back to top

*Beamer Memorial Conservation Area* (M)

Rating: 4.5 stars
Would I go again? Yes. I’ll be back!
https://npca.ca/parks/beamer-memorial

  • Beamer's Falls

Location: Located in Grimsby. Approximately 1 hour 15 minutes from Toronto.
Highlights: Forest, Niagara Escarpment, view of the town from above, Forty-Mile Creek, Beamer Falls and moss-covered rocks.
Parking: Yes, but limited.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trails? Moderate. Lots of exposed roots and slopes along the trail.
Plumbing: Yes, near the parking lot, but may be closed at this time.

My comments: I truly enjoyed this hike. When I went, due to the muddy conditions with extensive roots lining the trail, it was harder to navigate. Having a good pair of hiking boots is important. The trek along the Bruce Trail next to Forty-Mile Creek is unbelievable. It reminded me of my visit to Oxtongue-Ragged Falls Provincial Park – but on a smaller scale. I was so excited to stand on the rocks in the center of the creek and have the water gushing around me. Access to Beamer Falls is from the side trail. You have to walk up onto Ridge Street (I believe it’s called that) and cross the small bridge, then take the short trail that leads down to the falls. I stood right on the rock next to the falls – which is always an exhilarating feeling.

Back to top

*Ball’s Falls Conservation Area* (M)

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes.
https://npca.ca/parks/balls-falls

  • Ball's Falls Conservation Area
  • Ball's Falls Conservation Area

Location: Located in Lincoln. Approximately 1 hour 45 minutes from Toronto.
Highlights: Forest, Twenty Mile Creek, Upper and Lower Ball’s Falls, and moss-covered rocks.
Parking: Yes at the Conservation Area entrance parking lot. You can also access the trail on one of the streets in the area (can’t remember the name) – there is parking there but limited.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trails? Easy to moderate. Lots of exposed roots along the trail.
Plumbing: Not along the trail, but saw online that they have washrooms at the Conservation Area.

My comments: I originally thought that I had to access the trail at the gated Conservation Area, but they were closed at the time I got there. I refused to leave, so I scoped out the area and found a small parking lot right at one of the trailheads. As usual, I recommend getting an early start to secure parking and have more peace without the crowds. I typically aim to arrive at my destinations by 8/8:30am. There was nothing too special about the trail, but the creek and falls are extraordinary – making the trip worthwhile.

Back to top

*Altberg Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Reserve*

Rating: 3.0 stars
Would I go again? Maybe.
https://ontarionature.org/programs/nature-reserves/altberg-wildlife-sanctuary/

Location: Located in Kawartha Lakes.
Highlights: Forest, creek and wetlands.
Parking: Yes, but limited.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trails? Easy.
Plumbing: No.

My comments: A relaxing wintery hike through a normally covered forest – open now because there are no leaves left on the trees. I spent a couple of hours exploring this forest. My favourite part was watching and listening to the rushing waters of Corben Creek. I met not a soul during this hike – which meant quiet time for me. Recently, I find that I crave aloneness and being at one with nature.

Back to top

*King City Trail*

Rating: 3.0 stars
Would I go again? Probably.
https://www.ontariotrails.on.ca/index.php?url=trails/view/king-city-trail

Location: Located in King City.
Highlights: Forest, marshes and Humber River.
Parking: Street parking.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trails? Easy.
Plumbing: No.

My comments: Although the trails are short, the area is nice. Trees along the edge of the path and the Humber River runs along part of the trail. Would be a nice trail for snowshoeing – as it’s pretty flat.

Back to top

*McCrae Lake Conservation Reserve (Muskoka)* (M)

Rating: 4.5 stars
Would I go again? Yes, definitely.
http://www.ontarioparks.com/cr/mccraelakeconservationreserve
https://twitter.com/McCraeLake

  • McCrae Lake Conservation Reserve
  • McCrae Lake

Location: Located in Muskoka (Georgian Bay area).
Highlights: McCrae Lake, Crow’s Cliff and Eagle’s Nest.
Parking: Yes, but limited. Entrance to parking lot is hard to find (exit Crooked Bay Road, then take exit toward 400 south, but take first left on a small street which curves down before exiting the highway). Drive slowly or you’ll miss it, as I did once before.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trails? Moderate to challenging. Trail: Dirt and Georgian Bay rock.
Plumbing: I saw a couple of composting toilets near the base of Eagle’s Nest. Otherwise, tree or bush.

My comments: What an invigorating experience! Body, mind and soul – but a slightly different feeling than hiking The Crack at Killarney Provincial Park. I started the trail right near the lake by the parking lot. I roughed it along the lake because there were no obvious trails there, then stumbled upon a marked trail. If you’re looking to hike on a trail, take the trailhead closer to the entrance to the parking lot. There were many small bodies of water along the trail to admire. I didn’t do much research in advance, but had heard of Eagle’s Nest – so when I saw the sign (1.9 km from the sign to Eagle’s Nest) I was excited and headed as fast as could along muddy trails, over massive rocks and across tree trunk bridges. What an absolutely spectacular view from Eagle’s Nest! Of course, I had to climb down some rocks to check out the base of the cliff. Met a few nice people along the trail and a few campers who lucked out with the mild November weather. The IG administrator @mccraelake recommends getting the map from their Twitter account (-click here) before heading out, as they rescue many lost hikers. Phew, I made it safely out of the forest. Not bad for someone with a bad sense of direction and no idea what day it is! Until the next time…

Second visit comments: I saw two beavers! One of the most exciting things that ever happened to me. I was born in Canada and never saw a beaver before until now.

Back to top

*Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve (Newmarket)*

Rating: 3.0 stars
Would I go again? Maybe.
https://ontarionature.org/programs/nature-reserves/cawthra-mulock/

Location: Located in Newmarket.
Highlights: Pond and stream.
Parking: Yes, but limited. Entrance to parking lot is hard to find. Drive slowly or you’ll miss it.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trails? Easy. Trail: Dirt.
Plumbing: No.

My comments: The trails are not marked at the trailhead. Only when you get to the area near the pond is a trail map. Not so useful! Of course, I picked the wrong path to take – it was a super short loop with nothing to see but forest. The lined part (pictured left) of the trail is nice. From the Bathurst parking lot, take the trail to the right to get to the pond. It’s interesting to learn that a dam was built back in the 1960s to make a recreational pond. Since then, the dam has been removed and the water can flow downstream again. What’s neat about the pond is that they built a small dam (pictured right) so the pond is higher than the stream. The trail (which is not a loop) extends past the pond all the way to Dufferin Street. The map is below if you plan to go:

map of Cawthra Mulock nature reserve
Back to top

*Sheffield Conservation Area (Kaladar)*

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes.
https://www.ontarioconservationareas.ca/component/mtree/conservation-authorities-of-ontario/quinte/sheffield-conservation-area

  • Sheffield Conservation Area
  • Sheffield Conservation Area
  • Sheffield Conservation Area

Location: Located in Kaladar (basically east of Belleville and north of Napanee).
Highlights: Canadian Shield and Little Mellon Lake.
Parking: Yes, but limited.
Admission/parking cost: Yes. Purchase parking online on the spot ($5 for day-use). Need your credit card and data to do so.
Challenging trails? Easy to moderate. Trail: Dirt with lots of small rocks and Canadian Shield.
Plumbing: No.

My comments: This area is a gem. Right at the parking area, you will get a spectacular view of Little Mellon Lake (especially if you go in the morning and the water is calm). It’s always exciting to hike (about a 4 km loop) on the Canadian Shield because of the sheer magnitude of the rocks. There is an abundant growth of beautiful tundra vegetation on the rocks. Though the “crunchiness” of the vegetation underneath your feet may make it tempting to stomp more – try to resist. I remember that there’s one fork along the loop that is not marked (go left). While most of the loop trail is well-marked, it’s easy to get lost on the rocks because of the vastness. Like most other trails – wear proper footwear. The terrain is uneven and can even be muddy. Worth the 5-hour return drive from Toronto.

Back to top

*Arrowhead Provincial Park (Huntsville)*

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes.
https://www.ontarioparks.com/park/arrowhead

  • Arrowhead Provincial Park
  • Arrowhead Provincial Park

Location: Located in Huntsville.
Highlights: Big Bend, Stubb’s Falls, Little East River, Big East River, marsh and several beaches.
Parking: Yes.
Admission/parking cost: Yes. Gated entry.
Challenging trails? Easy to moderate. Trail: Dirt with lots of roots and rocks.
Plumbing: Yes, at the Visitor Centre and near campgrounds.

My comments: The areas and trails were not very well-marked in my opinion and parking is limited near the trailheads. Getting lost was easy for me! But this park has a lot to offer. They have 375 campsites (and 10 cabins), a spectacular view of the Big Bend and the majestic Stubb’s Falls. I enjoyed sitting on the rocks at the falls and watching and listening to the sheer force of the water making its way downstream. No justice is given to the Big Bend in photos. You have to be standing there in person to really appreciate it. Even more exciting for those who enjoy winter sports – a 1.3 km loop for ice-skating. Thinking of going in the winter? Apparently the park has over 60,000 visitors during the wintertime – so you might be turned away if they have reached capacity. Check their IG account for updates.

Back to top

*Mary Lake (King City)*

Rating: 3.0 stars
Would I go again? Maybe.

Location: Located in King City.
Highlights: Mary Lake and forest.
Parking: Yes, but only along Keele Street.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trails? Easy. Trail: Dirt.
Plumbing: No.

My comments: There is no obvious trail to get to Mary Lake. I couldn’t find it the first time I went. The trail starts on the west side of Keele across from the Oak Ridges Trail. You basically go under a metal pipe (looks like a limbo stick) that shows private property and walk on the open field grass until you get to the shrine. To the left of the old heritage building with broken windows, there is a very small path going up a slope – take that and keep walking. The lake is located on private property owned by The Augustinians, but they have generously allowed the public to use the trail for hiking. Mary Lake is a Kettle Lake, basically formed after the glaciers melted. The trail doesn’t appear to be a loop, although I didn’t have a chance to keep walking. It’s a nice forest trail. Worth checking out if you are in the area.

Back to top

*Seaton Trail (Pickering)*

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Maybe.
http://www.seatontrail.org/

Location: Located in Pickering.
Highlights: Bluffs, West Duffins Creek, forest and fall colours.
Parking: Yes, but not many spots – start early.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trails? Easy in some parts, but some elevation gain in the forest. My heart was pumping in some areas. Trail: mostly dirt.
Plumbing: No.

My comments: I enjoyed the trail because it was long and forested. The trail runs mainly along the creek. In certain areas, you will find yourself a meadow. One of the locals told me that it was about 7 km from Whitevale where I began the trail. It took me about 1 h 45 mins from the parking lot at Whitevale to the bluffs and 1 h 15 mins back (including some time for photos). The best part of the trail is the section overlooking the bluffs (1st and 2nd photos from the left). What a view! A nice way to spend 3 hours.

Back to top

*Happy Valley Tract (King City)*

Rating: 3.0 stars
Would I go again? Maybe.
https://www.oakridgestrail.org/moraine/trail-map/happy-valley-north/

Location: Located in King City.
Highlights: Valley, forest and wetlands.
Parking: Yes, but limited.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trails? Easy in some parts, but some elevation gain in the forest. My heart was pumping as I was walking quickly. Trail: mainly cut grass and dirt.
Plumbing: No.

My comments: The tract is part of the York Regional Forest. I was prepared to be disappointed walking along the open grass path in the valley, but was pleasantly surprised by the elevation gain in the forest. The forest is beautiful with the fall colours. The loop took me about an hour and fifteen minutes including photo-taking time. The creek is nice. At least there was some water running through it. I enjoyed the sunshine and a nice chill in the air. A satisfying enough hike overall.

Back to top

*Oak Ridges Corridor (Richmond Hill)*

Rating: 3.0 stars
Would I go again? Probably in the wintertime.
https://www.oakridgestrail.org/moraine/trail-map/richmond-hill-oak-ridges-corridor-old-colony-rd/

Location: Located in Richmond Hill, a few minutes away from Lake Wilcox.
Highlights: Meadow, wildflowers and forest.
Parking: Yes, but a very small parking lot. Street parking has restrictions.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trails? Easy. Trail: paved sections and dirt.
Plumbing: No.

My comments: A relaxing open trail. Parts of the trail are paved, so great for biking. When you step off the main paved trail, there are parts where you walk on a narrow one-person trail between 4 – 5 feet tall wildflowers/weeds. Can’t say I really enjoyed that! I watched the sunrise through the trees. According to the sign at the trailhead, there are a few trails varying from 3.8 – 10.2 kilometres in distance. Looking at the sign, the trail can be used for cross-country skiing /snowshoeing as well. I will definitely go snowshoeing there.

Back to top

*Crawford Lake Conservation Area (Milton)*

Rating: 3.5 stars
Would I go again? Maybe.
Kid-friendly
https://conservationhalton.ca/park-details?park=crawford-lake

Location: Located in Milton. About an hour from Toronto.
Highlights: Crawford Lake, boardwalk, Iroquoian village (longhouse pictured bottom right), wooden carvings, forest and fall colours.
Parking: Yes. Gated entry.
Admission/parking cost: Yes. Reservations are required.
Challenging trails? Easy.
Plumbing: Yes. Near the parking lots.

My comments: This is a nice place for discovery. You can walk around a 15th century Iroquoian village which was reconstructed by the park and walk a short trail (1 km mostly on a boardwalk) around Crawford Lake – which I learned is a meromictic lake (a lake that is deeper than the surface area). Because I never heard the term meromictic before, so I had to read up on it. Basically, the different layers in the water do not mix and the bottom layer is poorly oxygenated – making the lake an unsuitable environment for many organisms. The lake view was incredible at 9 am in the morning with the mist floating above the calm water. I took the Woodland Trail (1.5 km) and Crawford Lake Trail (1 km). The trail to Nassagaweya Canyon Trail was closed due to COVID, as there’s not enough time to hike it during the two-hour reservation time.

Caution: the boardwalk around the lake is quite slippery when damp, making it a falling hazard.

Back to top

*Oxtongue River-Ragged Falls* (Haliburton)(M)

Rating: 5.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes – how soon?
https://www.ontarioparks.com/park/oxtongueriverraggedfalls

Location: Located near Algonquin. About 3 hours from Toronto.
Highlights: Oxtongue Lake, Oxtongue River, Gravel Falls, Ragged Falls, rocks and heavenly fall colours.
Parking: Yes.
Admission/parking cost: Yes at the Provincial Park, but no cost for parking at Algonquin Outfitters where I rented my canoe.
Challenging trails? Some parts of the trail are uneven (rocks and roots). Even trickier when muddy.
Plumbing: I’m not sure if there are toilets at the park entrance, but there were portable toilets with pumping sink water at Algonquin Outfitters.

My comments: I totally lucked out with perfect weather for a September 26th in Canada- blue skies and 25-degree weather. I was wearing short sleeves! The scenery was incredible as well with the changing of the season. Intense red, orange and yellow fall colours still dance in my mind. I had an absolutely amazing time. I cannot wait to go back again.

I didn’t get to the falls through the provincial park entrance but instead rented a canoe at Algonquin Outfitters at Oxtongue Lake location. I decided to canoe to the falls because I read online that the trail (if you enter through the provincial park entrance) is only 1 km. That’s too short for me. I knew I would be disappointed hiking such a short hike. I paid about $40 for a canoe day rental. When I called Algonquin Outfitters ahead of time, I was told that day-use equipment is only available for rent on a first-come-first-serve basis – so no online bookings. Though supply may be high, I suggest that you get there early to avoid disappointment.

I canoed about one hour each way across Oxtongue Lake and got off at Ragged Falls. From there I hiked the trail to Gravel Falls – which is apparently fed by glacial melt. The sheer force of the falls is unbelievable. You can see, hear and feel (the spray) the power of the rushing water. There are some parts of the trail (such as the section near the Ragged Falls) that are difficult to climb (unless you’re a monkey) – but you can challenge yourself physically. The views of Gravel Falls from there is well worth the climb. This whole area is absolutely magnificent. My dreaming continues…

Back to top

*Bruce Peninsula National Park* (M)

Rating: 100.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes!

I already posted about Bruce Peninsula (read my review by clicking here), so this is just a supplement because I went again last Sunday – after being away for over three years. You’ll see that I updated my rating from 5 stars to 100 stars. This place is just unbelievable and dreamy! Below is a photo slide show. Just look at the water and rock! Things are slightly different now with COVID – you have to make reservations for The Grotto (the cave) online. You get a four hour window to explore. In some ways it’s good to make reservations because you are guaranteed a parking spot. Normally, if you just show up, you may be disappointed because if the parking lot is full, they will turn you away. For the past few years, I wasn’t able to book for an overnight yurt, so I was worried that the parking would be full. And after driving for four hours you do not want to get turned away. I took advantage of the reservations and went for it. So glad I did.

  • Bruce Peninsula National Park

*Kelso Conservation Area* (Milton)

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes.
https://conservationhalton.ca/park-details?park=kelso

Location: Located in Milton. About an hour from Toronto.
Highlights: Cliffs, escarpment, lookout points, forest, Kelso Lake, and beach. Skiing available in the winter.
Parking: Yes. Reservations are required at this time.
Admission/parking cost: Yes. Gated entry.
Challenging trails? Some parts are calf-burning and uneven (rocks and roots).
Plumbing: Yes, a washroom with toilets and running water near the Visitor Centre.

My comments: Your online reservation includes a 2-hour time block, so you have to time yourself. I booked for the “Kelso Main Entrance” and not the “Kelso Summit” – as two hours is not enough time to explore the summit. The Halton Conservation Area website suggests that if you are just hiking (not biking) that you hike in one of their other parks. The reason being – Kelso’s trails are famous for mountain biking. The trails are mostly shared and two-way traffic, so you have to be ready to jump off the trail when bikes are coming at you at full speed. The first part of the trail to the lookout point is rather boring – it’s paved with gravel and passes through the gondola areas. It takes about fifteen minutes to get to the lookout area. The park boasts over 29 kilometres of scenic and well-marked trails. The beach area is small and I saw a lot of goose poop, but I’m sure they clean it up more in the summertime. I enjoyed my two hours at the park with blue skies, water, trees and rock!

Back to top

*Elora Gorge* (Elora)

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go again? Yes.
https://www.grandriver.ca/en/outdoor-recreation/Elora-Gorge.aspx

Location: Located in Elora. About 1 hour 45 minutes from Toronto.
Highlights: Gorge, Grand River, “Hole in the Rock” and white cedar trees.
Parking: Yes.
Admission/parking cost: Yes.
Challenging trails? No. But tubing in the river is an adventure!
Plumbing: Yes, but closed due to COVID. Washrooms/change rooms at the tubing area were open.
Camping: Yes.

My comments: Initially I was disappointed by the short trail overlooking the Grand River and the Hole in the Rock section. I was yawning and about ready to leave and check out another park, but then discovered a trail (where the tubing launch area is) which leads to the base of the 22-metre cliffs. You can walk along the rocks and watch the raging river. You need to be careful because the rocks at the river edge can be slippery.

Based on my research last year, I saw that people could tube along the 2 km long river. Apparently there is zip-lining somewhere in the area but I didn’t see anything there. I learned that tube rentals need to be purchased online ahead of time. However, I was lucky that they still had rentals available that day and my cell phone data worked so I ordered the tube and equipment (basically a helmet and life jacket) online. I paid $55 for the rental plus a $75 refundable deposit for the equipment. As usual, I highly recommend bringing your own life jacket (due to sliminess of the rental ones). Lucky I packed my kayak and life jacket “just in case” – never know what activities you might be doing!

Tubing was definitely the highlight of the adventure, though I wasn’t certain how my motion sickness would factor in (I was fine). Certain parts of the river were rough and did actually hit a small rock and get stuck on another one. I was most worried about falling off the tube, but the park staff said if I was to fall off I should hold onto the tube, relax and let the current take me to the end. I was floating in the tube in some areas and had to kick and use my arms to paddle closer to “moving” water to be able to continue along the river. The view of the cliffs was incredible from my tube. I felt that the “ride” was too long (almost an hour). I’m not used to doing nothing for so long so I felt a bit stressed. Plus you have to factor in additional time to walk to the launching area and back to the rental area. It took about two hours in total. Met a lady who sadly dropped her car key into the river. Yikes!

Back to top

*Silver Creek Conservation Area* (Halton Hills)

Rating: 3.0 stars
Would I go again? No.
https://cvc.ca/enjoy-the-outdoors/conservation-areas/silver-creek-conservation-area/

Location: Located in Halton Hills. About 1 hour from Toronto.
Highlights: Forest, Niagara Escarpment, pond and creek.
Parking: Yes. Along the street.
Admission/parking cost: No.
Challenging trail? Some parts. Some elevation gain.
Plumbing: No.

My comments: I am too spoiled! I took the Roberts Side Trail which meets the main trail and loops back around to the parking. That trail is not exciting at all – just forest with little variety of trees. The trail to the left of where Roberts Side Trail meets the “T” (end of trail) is a dead end. I backtracked and hiked the loop to the main trail – which was more interesting with the rock on the forest floor (pictured above 2nd and 4th photos). On the Roberts Side Trail you can see a pond and part of the creek, but other than that, you can’t really see the creek. Maybe I missed something. The rocky section on the main trail made up for the initial disappointment.

Back to top

*Charleston Lake Provincial Park* (Leeds and the Thousand Islands) (M)

Rating: 4.5 stars
Would I go again? Yes.
https://www.ontarioparks.com/park/charlestonlake

Location: Located in Leeds and the Thousand Islands. About 3 hours from Toronto.
Highlights: Forest, lakes, marsh and Canadian Shield.
Parking: Yes.
Admission/parking cost: Yes. Gated entry.
Challenging trail? There are a number of different trails depending on what you are looking for.
Plumbing: Yes.

My comments: I was impressed by this park. There is a variety of different landscape (Canadian Shield, lakes, marsh, forest, etc.). I took the Tallow Rock Bay Trail which is a 10 km loop and considered difficult with the elevation gain and uneven forest floor. The trail is interesting – some sections you will walk across beautiful lichen covered large rocks (Canadian Shield) or come across a rocky Georgian Bay-like area (pictured bottom left) or a swamp covered with neon green algae (at least I am guessing it’s algae) (pictured top centre) or find yourself between huge rock walls or walk across multiple boardwalks. The park has a couple of 10 km trails and several shorter trails. I thoroughly enjoyed my 6 hours exploring this park. I didn’t get a chance to kayak, but I am sure it would be amazing. There is camping and portaging available at this park.

Back to top

*Algonquin Provincial Park* (M)

Rating: 4.0 stars
Would I go ag