Residents in and around the GTA can get their nature fix on beautiful trails in dozens of wondrous parks and wilderness areas. Here are five trails on IMPACT’s list of favourite hikes.
1. Ganaraska Trail
Trailhead: The Cairn at Port Hope Town Hall.
Head to Northumberland County about an hour east of Toronto and plan to hike a section of the 500K Ganaraska Trail. Start at the town hall in Port Hope and head north, hiking for as little or as long as time permits. A car shuttle allows you to do a one-way hike. Expect a mixture of quiet country roads and rolling farmland interspersed with the beautiful Ganaraska Forest.
2. Rouge National Urban Park
Trailhead: East of Toronto Zoo, off Meadowvale Road.
In Rouge National Urban Park, just outside of Toronto, you’ll find forests, meadows, wetlands, ponds and even beaches. Choose from a variety of short out-and- back hikes ranging from 0.6 to 2.5K. String some of them together to cover a huge swath of the park via the Cedar, Orchard, Mast and Vista trails. Enjoy fantastic views, animal sightings, and the quiet of a forest along with some human history.
3. Devil’s Pulpit/Paula Coats Loop
Trailhead: 4.5K east of Belfountain on the north side of the Grange Side Road.
Over two to three hours, hike an 8K loop that includes plenty of up and down along the Niagara Escarpment plus a short strip beside the Forks of the Credit Road. The final up via the Devil’s Pulpit rewards you with the best view in Caledon with vistas across the Credit River Valley. In summer look for yellow Lady’s Slipper. Come back again in late September for glorious foliage displays.
4. Hockley Valley/Jeju Olle Loop
Trailhead: North side of Hockley Road between 2nd and 3rd EHS Mono, across from Black Birch Restaurant.
Take four hours to do the hilly 11.6K Jeju Olle-Bruce Trail — Friendship Trail as a loop. The blazed trail includes the Tom East Side Trail, the Bruce Trail and the Isabel East Side Trail. Saunter through hardwood forest filled with ravines and huge ironwood trees, cross open meadows, farmland and braided streams, including some with spawning beds. Check out the abandoned 1939 Chevy. Enjoy superb views over the Hockley Valley.
5. The Bluff Trail
Trailhead: North of Penatanguishene to Awenda Provincial Park to Deer Campground.
Awenda Provincial Park is home to the Bluff Trail, a 13 kilometre loop accessible from many points within the park. It’s a family friendly trail with little in the way of elevation change. Visit in spring for the masses of trilliums and a forest so green it will take your breath away. Come fall it’s one of the top places in the province for colour. Include a side-trip to visit the pristine beaches of Georgian Bay.