As the weather starts to warm up and the flowers start to bloom, there are many opportunities in and around the Greater Toronto Area to get out and reconnect with nature. From simply hiking through stunning tree canopies and in nature preserve trails, to bird watching in a renowned conservation area, to taking advantage of the stunning waters by canoeing, swimming, and relaxing by the shore, there are a variety of options for all types of outdoor fun.
Mono Cliffs Provincial Park – Orangeville
This 15-island chain is a Toronto-favorite in the summer months, a close-by getaway that feels like venturing off to a far-off destination. There are tons to see and do at this archipelago, from amusement park rides to relaxing at beaches, to biking around the islands and visiting one of Toronto’s oldest buildings built in 1808 – the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse.
Rattlesnake Point – Milton
This stunning point in Ontario is an all-seasons nature attraction that is famous for its ecological rarities and turkey vultures that fly over the escarpment from the Buffalo Crag lookout point. Visitors can go camping on the Niagara Escarpment, go on a restorative nature walk, and look for gems of nature all around the area.
Kariya Park – Mississauga
Kariya Park is a green oasis in the middle of the city of Mississauga, a serene and calm Japanese-style garden with pine, gingko, and sweetgum trees that celebrates the twin-city relationship between Mississauga and Kariya, Japan. Take a stroll through the park and check out the many elements that have been placed around.
Albion Falls – Hamilton
The Albion Falls is one of Hamilton’s most popular waterfalls, a cascading waterfall that ripples over the Niagara Escarpment and is visible from two viewing platforms. Visitors can hike around the falls or cycle from downtown Hamilton up to the Albion Falls area.
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Nothing compares to a scene like this on a warm summer’s night. A trip to Albion falls is always a win. Explore the area further via the Bruce Trail or Kings Forest walk to Buttermilk Falls or pop downtown Hamilton for mouthwatering food. #myhamilton photo by @colethorsen #waterfallwednesday #albionfalls . . CONTEST ALERT: Submit your #citylife or #outdooradventure photos of #HamOnt at tourismhamilton.com/myhamilton (link in bio) now to join our MyHamilton photo contest. . . #HamOnt #Hamilton #hamiltonontario #Ontario#DiscoverON #canada #explorecanada#HamiltonHaltonBrant #905#pictureoftheday #potd #waterfall #waterfalls #albionfallshamilton
Scarborough Bluffs – Toronto
Known as “The Bluffs” to locals, the Scarborough Bluffs are spectacular 100-meter cliffs that border Lake Ontario and are home to a beautiful sandy beach and nine parks. It is a great nature destination for trails, places to sit down for a picnic, and for a general retreat out to explore what nature has to offer.
Dundas Peak – Hamilton
Dundas Peak is a rocky outcropping that features steep cliffs and sweeping views over the escarpment. Many enjoy going to the peak to hike to the lookout point and take beautiful photographs of the stunning natural landscape and its mix of red, greens, yellows, and browns.
Royal Botanical Gardens – Burlington
A hotspot for events and fun activities year-round, the Royal Botanical Gardens connects the public to the wonders of plant life and horticulture. Check out the plants and flowers of the season, the art in the park, or walk on a nature trail, and keep an eye on the seasonal events that take place at the gardens. RBG Cootes Paradise Sanctuary – Featuring more than 27 kilometers of nature trails and two canoe launch sites, the Royal Botanical Gardens is home to the Cootes Paradise Sanctuary – a place where anyone can venture out into nature and enjoy a valley sanctuary full of life and seasonal treasures for hiking and birding.
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Get outside this weekend with a nature hike! Our nature sanctuaries are home to 27km of trails to explore. Are you a RBG trail veteran? Comment with your favourite hiking loop suggestions for newbies not sure where to start! #HamONT #BurlON #trails #hike #getoutside #nature #hiking #onthetrails #RBGtrails #thingstodo #DiscoverON #travel #staycation #conservation #conservationarea #publicgarden #naturetrails
Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area – Hamilton
This 37-metre ribbon waterfall is located on the incredible Niagara Escarpment. It is distinct because of its bowl-like cliff-face in which the waterfall flows into, and dates back to over 450 million years ago. Hiking is popular in the area, especially on the 11.5-kilometer Dofasco 2000 Trail which features a boardwalk section through Vinemount Swamp Forest.
Metcalfe Rock – Blue Mountains
Reach new heights at the Metcalfe Rock and go trad, sport, or toprope rock climbing. This shaded location is popular for experienced climbers, or operating companies to allow beginners to learn the ropes. The summit offers incredible views over Kolapore Creek Valley.
Long Point Provincial Park – Port Rowan
Covering part of the UNESCO designated Long Point Biosphere Reserve, Long Point Provincial Park provides an extensive 256 campsites and amazing birdwatching that includes a recorded 383 species. It is the fourth oldest provincial park in the province and is still highly popular for fishing and boating.
Belfountain Conservation Area – Belfountain
Belfountain Conservation Area offers a blend of serenity, calm, and a rainbow of colors. A true wonder to the senses, the fountain and pond, swing bridge, and trees and streams make for a meditator’s and hiker’s paradise. The company Humans in Nature provides yoga and nature retreats in the area.
Webster’s Falls – Hamilton
Webster’s Falls is a plunge waterfall located in Hamilton known specifically for its classic curtain/plunge style and its sweeping panoramas. Cross the cobblestone footbridge and marvel at the falls at one of the lookouts, and check out the fall colors and beautiful landscapes year-round.
Forks of the Credit Provincial Park – Caledon
On the Bruce Trail and close to the Trans Canada Trail, Forks of the Credit Provincial Park is in a prime location for some of the best hiking and horseback riding in the region. A bonus feature is the opportunity to ski and snowshoe in the winter months and to fish along the river fishing spots.
Sand Hill Park – Port Burwell
This family-run, family-friendly park is home to the sand hills, towering above Lake Erie and demonstrating the epitome of natural beauty in Ontario. There are opportunities for camping at 240 sites, picnicking, birdwatching, as well as indulging in 2,200 feet of sandy beach.
Decew Falls – St. Catharines
Decew Falls is just another of the many Niagara Escarpment waterfalls and is located right below a historic mill in St. Catharines. Follow the Bruce Trail on foot and choose your adventure into the gorge – take the shortcut by climbing down a rope, or opt for the long route past a swimming hole.
Cheltenham Badlands – Caledon
The Cheltenham Badlands is an incredible geographical formation that is seemingly like a landscape straight out of an adventure movie. The dramatic reddish-brown rolling hills and gullies make for the perfect setting for a long 16km nature walk where you can also learn about the Badlands through interpretive signage.
Murphy’s Pinnacle Lookout – Alliston
This beautiful spot is located in Boyne Valley Provincial Park, a place teeming with natural communities like hardwood forest, swap, open fields, and the flowing wonder of the Boyne River. Murphy’s Pinnacle Lookout is where you can view spectacular panoramas at the northern part of the park.
Elora Gorge Conservation Area – Elora
Kelso Conservation Area – Milton
The Kelso Conservation Area is famed for its labyrinth of biking and hiking trails with beautiful views of the Niagara Escarpment. The peaceful atmosphere is ideal for a picnic or a stand-up paddle boarding experience on the calm waters, and is also a winter paradise for skiing, tubing, and snowboarding.
The Grand River runs through the Hamilton, Halton, and Brant region of Ontario, and is a historical Canadian Heritage River serving canoers, kayakers, and rafters some gentle and relaxing currents. Its rustic and rural character makes it unique to other river destinations in the province.
Boyd Conservation Park – Vaughan
This conservation park is nestled in the Humber River valley and is a suburban green space that is used primarily for outdoor activity as well as cross-country events in the summer. Picnicking, volleyball, basketball, soccer, bird watching, and nature hiking are just a few activities that many enjoy, and outdoor music concerts are frequently held here.
Claireville Conservation Area – Brampton
The Claireville Conservation area is 848 acres of forested space that is home to local wildlife, stunning natural landscapes, and walking and biking opportunities. It has a variety of landscapes, including wetlands, forests, grasslands, and wetlands, and a self-guided TreeCaching Trail that allows visitors to explore the area.
Charles Sauriol Conservation Area – Toronto
The Charles Sauriol Conservation Area is an unmatched natural community space that boasts an urban forest, many biking and walking trails, and a lot of peace and quiet. It is home to the Rainbow Bridge which is a tunnel painted as part of a mural project. The area is perfect for hiking, reading, and picnicking.
Petticoat Creek Conservation Area – Pickering
Petticoat Creek Conservation Area is a green space to gather with friends and family and enjoy picnic sites, pools, a splash area, and a beautiful waterfront trail by Lake Ontario. It offers a natural corridor packed with wildlife and home to a huge variety of trees and rabbits, squirrels, and the white-tail deer.
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Summertime should be spent in the sunshine! Petticoat Creek is the perfect place to spend summer afternoons; splashing around in the pool, biking along the waterfront, or simply enjoying the warm breeze on your face with nature by your side. 🏊♂️ ☀️ 🚴♀️ • • • #nature #explore #summerfun #sunshine #pickering #tree #conservationparks #conservation #summervacation
Rattray Marsh Conservation Area – Mississauga
Nestled up to the Lake Ontario shoreline, the Rattray Marsh Conservation Area offers a scenic spot to stroll on a waterfront trail with many opportunities for photography and bird watching. It is also visited for its rare natural cobble beach and as it is the last lakefront marsh between Toronto and Burlington.
Meadowvale Conservation Area – Mississauga
Located in the historic Old Meadowvale Village in Mississauga, the conservation area has the Credit River running through it, and is home to several bird, mammal, and amphibian species. Here, you can go fishing, picnic at one of the three areas, walk on a nature trail, and enjoy the barbecue space.
Crawford Lake Conservation Area – Milton
Crawford Lake is a place abundant in First Nations history. Events take place here all-year round and you can come here during Sweet Water Season to sample some warm and gooey maple taffy or go on a Moonlight Snowshoe hike. Enjoy the rare meromictic lake and walk along the boardwalk surrounded in lush forest.
Scenic Caves Nature Adventures – The Blue Mountains
Explore a self-guided trail of caves, caverns and crevasses carved millions of years ago by glacial ice, and savour the breathtaking lookouts from the highest point of the Niagara Escarpment, set in one of Canada’s sixteen UNESCO biosphere reserves. Learn about the First Nations’ Huron Petun tribe as you discover the mysterious places and hidden natural fortress which sheltered the native people from their enemies. Venture over Southern Ontario’s longest 420ft. Suspension Footbridge which offers spectacular views of Georgian Bay and surrounding countryside.
Mount Nemo Conservation Area – Burlington
Mount Nemo has one of the best cliff ecosystems that are part of Ontario’s Niagara Escarpment. The scenery comes alive with its ancient cedars, old growth forests, limestone boulders, and a crowd of green ferns, and there is an interpretive lookout with panoramic views of the countryside and the protected environment around the area.
Bruce’s Mill Conservation Park – Stouffville
Known as the host of the Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival, Bruce’s Mill is where you can tour the working sugarbush, hop on a wagon ride, and taste some pancakes and real maple syrup. There are also 10 kilometers of trails that vary between open and forested that can be used for nature walks, and baseball diamonds and barbeque rentals.
Terra Cotta Conservation Area – Halton Hills
The Terra Cotta Conservation Area is 485 acres that demonstrate the beauty of the Niagara Escarpment. It is a trail-lover’s dream, where trails run through forests, fields, lakes, and ponds that allow you to experience a variety of nature settings on your journey. The campsites have recently been replanted and an award-winning wetland has been placed as a learning tool.
Limehouse Conservation Area – Halton Hills
The Limehouse Conservation Area is where you can find the “Hole in the Wall”, a place where several ladders that cut through fissures in the escarpment rock. The Bruce Trail cuts through the conservation area and takes hikers past natural and cultural features unique to the Niagara Escarpment landscapes.
Cold Creek Conservation Area – Nobleton
Cold Creek Conservation Area is an ecologically diverse natural area that is home to 6.6 kilometers of nature trails and a big variety of plant and animal species. 190-hectares of the Humber River Watershed are located here with a mixed coniferous swamp and hiking trails where you can observe some of 110 species of birds.
Island Lake Conservation Area – Orangeville
The Island Lake Conservation Area plays a key role in protecting the headwaters of the Credit and Nottawasaga Rivers, providing a home to many amphibians, mammals, plants, and fish. Visitors can go on a lakeside walk, go canoeing on the waters, and even go ice fishing in the winter months.
Mountsberg Conservation Area – Campbellville
The Mountsberg Conservation Area is a birdwatcher’s paradise, where waterfowl and shorebirds gather around the misty lake and meander in the air through forest and above meadows. There are plenty of hiking trails and interpretive lookouts, as well as opportunities to learn more about the bird species in the area.
Lynde Shores Conservation Area – Whitby
The Lynde Shores Conservation Area is an excellent spot for wildlife viewing, and to take a walk on accessible trails. It is known as a habitat for nesting birds and is suitable for strollers, wheelchairs, and young kids, and has a boardwalk that leads out into the Lynde Creek Marsh.
Greenwood Conservation Area – Ajax
Just east of the city of Toronto is a beautiful escape to nature that lies close to Duffins Creek. Trails allow visitors to explore the forest of the steep-sided river valley – a mix of coniferous forests and fields and is an overall great place to relax, hike, and partake in recreational activities.
Rogers Reservoir Conservation Area – East Gwillimbury
The Rogers Reservoir Conservation Area is where you can cast a fishing line, cycle along trails, and watch nesting birds. The abandoned canal system from the 1900s still remains and features a concrete lock and swing bridge that gives that area a historical feel, while the Rogers Reservoir Trail provides a spot for walking and biking.
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Wesley Brooks Conservation Area – Newmarket
Known colloquially as Fairy Lake, this Newmarket nature spot boasts free concerts, a family fishing festival, and an overall magical wooded and marshy area. There are many groomed trails, a covered pavilion, and places to enjoy a picnic in this urban oasis, as well as a nearby Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings from May to October.
Heber Down Conservation Area – Whitby
The Heber Down Conservation Area has something for everyone. It is a nature setting that welcomes all sorts of activities, from group camping, to fishing, to nature walks on 5 kilometers of trails that provide scenic vistas. The area is also the host of the annual family fishing day held in May.
Rockwood Conservation Area – Rockwood
The Rockwood Conservation Area features a wealth of unique natural features, including towering limestone cliffs, glacial potholes, and caves. Hop on a rented canoe and head out on the Eramosa River or set foot on a hiking trail and explore the area, as well as the ruins of the Harris and Co. Rockwood Woolen Mill while you’re at it.
Harmony Valley Conservation Area – Oshawa
Scanlon Creek Conservation Area – Bradford West Gwillimbury
Scanlon Creek Conservation Area is an ideal spot for the explorer, with marshlands, glacial erratics, an abundance of birds and other wildlife, and plenty of hiking trails. It also serves both environmental and recreational needs as it is a nature preserve for flora and fauna and a fun place for campouts and enjoying the outdoors.
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Tommy Thompson Park – Toronto
A true urban wilderness in the heart of Toronto, Tommy Thompson Park is a wonderful spot to enjoy Lake Ontario, get closer to nature, and take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. The park has over 300 recorded species of birds, making it an ideal destination for birdwatching, and has a waterfront trail to cycle, hike, and run.
Felker’s Falls Conservation Area – Hamilton
This forested escarpment area is home to the Felker’s Falls – a 20-meter ribbon waterfall with vantage points and accessible trails that run throughout the conservation area. The waterfall flows over the Niagara Escarpment and boast significant geological rock formations in the gorge which are worth exploring.
Venture through the Sifton Bog – London
The 41.6 hectare Sifton Bog is characterized by its acid peat bog and plant life. It is a densely vegetated environment with plenty of shade and mystery, and the 370-metre long boardwalk takes you to the center of it all – a viewing platform in the middle of the bog. This outdoor destination is a treasure in London.
Toronto Botanical Garden
Toronto Botanical Garden offers an array of award-winning themed gardens spanning nearly four acres, designed to educate and inspire adjacent to Wilket Creek, Don Valley Ravine and Edwards Gardens.
Riverwood Conservancy – Mississauga
Located on the banks of Credit River, Riverwood is a 150-acre park that house both historical buildings and environmentally significant areas. Enjoy a day out hiking the trails that traverse habitats of more than 475 species of animals and plants. Relax in beautiful Chappell House Gardens or, MacEwan Terrace Garden, go for a bird trek or take in an art exhibition by Visual Arts Mississauga in the historic MacEwan House.
The Happy Valley Forest – King
Take a fall hike through one of the largest intact hardwood forests of the Oak Ridges Moraine. The Happy Valley Forest is located in King, Ontario – its 2850-acre land consists of rolling topography, fields, creeks and valleys. It also boasts swamps and wetlands, as well as rare species of birds such as the Hooded Warbler and Red-Shouldered Hawk. Hiking through this forest will allow you to enjoy several ponds and the many tree species that provide bright colours during the fall season. Look for the red maples, largetooth aspen, sugar maple and occasional beech tree.
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