Cheltenham Badlands in Caledon is the perfect day trip from the Golden Horseshoe to see a provincially significant Earth Science Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI).
The Cheltenham Badlands were formed over 400 million years ago by erosion and deposition and their unique red colour is a result of the oxidation of iron.
The area was once fertile farmland as the settlers grew various crops, but the farming practices caused the erosion of shallow topsoil exposing the underlying Queenston shale. The changing seasons further accelerated the erosion of the shale, resulting in this unique landscape. The gray streaks on the badlands is caused by the chemical reaction with the acidic groundwater that streamed over the shale.
Earlier, this distinctive landscape was open completely with visitors allowed to walk over the formation. This resulted in accelerated erosion of the sensitive red shale surface and causing permanent changes to the Badlands unique appearance. In order to protect the Badlands from further erosion, the Ontario Heritage Trust and its partners at Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) and the Bruce Trail Conservancy closed the site in 2015 and developed a boardwalk that closed off physical access to the badlands. The site reopened in 2018.
WHAT TO DO & SEE AT CHELTENHAM BADLANDS
Taking pictures of this Mars-like geological feature isn’t the only activity you can do at the Cheltenham Badlands you can also walk the accessible boardwalk section. Remember, there is no physical access to the badlands (i.e. you can not walk on the badlands.)
The 60 m boardwalk and viewing platform connect to 0.32 km Cheltenham Badlands Trail. If you want to hike more, walk the 1.33 km section of the Bruce Trail that traverses through the forest.
The region boasts of incredible Fall colours and the brick red coloured badlands backdropped by golden hues of autumn provide a fabulous experience.
TRIP PLANNING – Cheltenham Badlands
Why to go:
The Cheltenham Badlands is one of Ontario’s most recognized geological treasures. Connect with nature and learn about this unique geographical feature against the beautiful backdrop of nature.
When to go:
Open from May to End of October. (Opened on September 7th due to COVID-19)
Due to Covid-19, certain guidelines have been introduced, such as physical distancing, wearing masks and limiting groups to no more than 10 people. They have also introduced a new reservation-based ticket system, where you can reserve the date and time of your visit. Reservations are mandatory for entering and time slots are available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can also book your ticket up to two weeks in advance.
How much to go:
Weekdays: $8.85 per vehicle, 1.5-hour timeslot
Weekends and holidays: $13.27 per vehicle, 1.5-hour timeslot
The viewing platform, Badlands Trail and certain areas of the Bruce Trail are mandatory one-way use. To see all, from the parking lot take the Bruce Trail, continue past the Badlands Trail to Creditview Road and then return back to Badlands Trail turning left to access the viewing platform.
Where to Go:
Cheltenham Badlands is located in Caledon, approximately 1 hour from downtown Toronto, 440 kms from Ottawa (4 hrs 30 minutes drive) and 350 kms from Windsor.
Address: 1739 Olde Base Line Road, Caledon, ON L7C 0K6