Some of the most ecologically significant habitats that protect the rarest species of plants and wildlife in Canada, are found in the Bluewater regions of Ontario. Nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries support everything from scarce oak savannas and Carolinian ecosystems to the singular environments found in two UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves; the Niagara Escarpment through Grey and Bruce Counties, and Georgian Bay's 30,000 Islands that comprise the world's largest fresh-water archipelago. These and other oases of natural diversity are havens for both their denizens and visitors who revel in explorations of those precious places.
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Metcalfe Rock is a popular escarpment climb at the west side of Kolapore Uplands Nature Reserve. Numerous climbing routes exist along the limestone cliffs that range from easy (Peanut Butter, Pick-Pocket) to intermediate (Mother of Jam, White of Spring) to advanced (Jam, El Camino, Anvil Rock) in difficulty. Belay anchors are fixed above the cliffs to prevent damage to trees along the edge. Professional rock climbing and caving outfitting and lessons are available from adventure tour guides such as Free Spirit Tours - 705-444-3622. The Metcalfe Crevice Caves feature narrow passageways,
Colborne Riverside Park has limited parking for day use only and a steep trail that leads to scenic cascades over ledges in the Maitland River. The trail joins the Maitland Trail through lush forest along the river. The park has a good fishing hole and favourite swimming spot for youths who like to jump off the rocks into the river.
The Beaver River is a busy spot for anglers during spring and fall Rainbow trout and salmon runs. A fishway allows fish to bypass the Thornbury dam when they swim upstream and a viewing platform enables visitors to witness the spectacle. The Lookout has interpretive plaques and lovely flowerbeds that enhance the view beside the bridge. The Riverwalk and lookout in Thornbury are part of the Georgian Trail recreation corridor, a smooth path for hiking, biking and skiing between Collingwood and Meaford.
Nature, history, scenery and memorable adventures await the whole family at the most varied natural playground in Ontario. Scenic Caves Nature Adventures Explore a self-guided trail of caves, caverns and crevices carved out 10,000 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
MacNaughton-Morrison Trail follows the creek from the park in Exeter to Morrison Dam Conservation Area as part of the South Huron Trail. The trails are well packed for biking, hiking or skiing over scenic bridges and through riparian forests where opportunities for wildlife observation are exceptional. MacNaughton Park has manicured flower and rock gardens and an outdoor pool. It is also a good place to see Exeter's famous white squirrels that are an unusual colour phase of the common Gray squirrel. Morrison Lake is a good place to cast a fishing line or picnic in the pavilion overlooking the water.
Nottawasaga Lookout Provincial Park is located north of Singhampton at 794685 Osprey-Clearview Townline (Road 31), where the Bruce Trail provides a panoramic view of Nottawasaga Bay. A side trail to the north end of the park encounters the Singhampton Crevice Caves, where huge rock chunks have split off the escarpment to form a maze of deep corridors that lead in all directions. Interesting formations include Standing Rock and yawning chasms that meet at the top to make tunnels between the cool, mossy walls that drip with condensation. Nearby Devil’s Glen Provincial Park has a scenic
A lush Carolinian forest oasis at the southern tip of Canada, Point Pelee National Park resounds with migrating song birds in the spring, hums with cicadas in the summer, flutters with Monarch butterflies in the fall and is a peaceful place of reflection in the winter. Point Pelee National Park is the most southern part of mainland Canada and has one of Ontario’s finest Carolinian habitats and Great Lakes marshes. The park gives refuge to more rare or endangered plants and animals than anywhere else in Canada. Visitors can stroll through the cattails along the 1.4-km., floating marsh
The Georgian Bluffs Trail runs between Park Head on Grey County Road 10 through Shallow Lake to Owen Sound harbour. The trail follows a former railway corridor that crosses innumerable wetlands, forests and scenic vistas of Georgian Bay at the east end. It is a multi-use trail for hiking, cycling or motorsports year round. Trail users should be observant and careful not to run over wildlife that is very plentiful and can be closely encountered along the way.
Highway 559 leads to Killbear Provincial Park with its beautiful sand beaches, campgrounds and picnic areas. A bicycle path runs the length of the park and the Lookout Trail offers stunning views. A nature centre and amphitheatre conduct interpretive programs and musical entertainment on summer weekends. The park also has a dog exercise area and beach for pet owners. The landscape epitomizes Georgian Bay’s eastern shoreline of sparkling water, and colourful rock outcrops bedecked by windswept pines. The coast is also famous for its scintillating sunsets over the lake.
Erieau is located at the end of County Rd 12, which leads through lush farmland past McGeachy Pond Conservation Area with its lookout platform and scenic shoreline trail, which is perfect for cycling or walking to Erieau's business district, sandy beach and harbour. The narrow jetty to the lighthouse is intriguing and Rondeau Bay has some of the best walleye and bass fishing on Lake Erie. The Erieau Marsh Trail begins at 17689 County Road 12 and follows an abandoned railway corridor past Rondeau Bay for excellent viewing of wildlife. The former Erie & Huron Railway was built along the
Massasauga Provincial Park is a wilderness park that can be reached from Pete's Place in Blackstone Harbour, from Three Legged Lake or by boat from Georgian Bay. No camping is allowed at access points, but only at designated interior sites, most of which are accessible only by boat. Permits and canoe rentals are available at Pete's Place or Oastler Lake Park. Moorings and docks are available throughout the park. The park’s features include old growth forest, plentiful wildlife, incredible geology, a maze of islands and fabulous fishing. The park contains diverse features such as
Rock Glen Conservation Area is located two kilometres northeast of Arkona, Ontario, Canada at 8680 Rock Glen Road. Phone gatehouse at 519-828-3071 or phone Ausable Bayfield Conservation office toll-free at 1-888-286-2610 for information. The admission fee (subject to change) is only $4.00 per person or $3.50 per walk-in. That includes admission to Arkona Lions Museum and Information Centre. Two picnic pavilions can be reserved for groups. More and more brides and grooms are being married at Rock Glen Conservation Area. Driving Directions: From Sarnia or
The Kincardine Trails system runs throughout the town with numerous scenic loops that follow the Penetangore River and other green spaces. The trails are best accessed from Geddes Environmental Park, which has a lovely picnic area, Peace Labyrinth Garden and plenty of parking. Points of interest include lookouts, bridges, forests, wildflower meadows and a massive ash tree that displays knots resembling a face.
Bruce Peninsula National Park encompasses an area primarily composed of limestone bedrock, yet it holds many diverse features. Marl rock fens and sand dunes are found along Lake Huron where most orchids grow and sunsets are among the best in the world. Towering cliffs, caves and cobblestone beaches make up the Georgian Bay shore where the views are most impressive. The park is home to wildlife such as Black bears, wolves, fishers, porcupines and Massasauga rattlesnakes. This is wilderness - campers should not leave food inside tents to avoid thieving animals! Several hiking trails begin at
Tobermory’s two national parks feature an exciting Visitor Centre, located on Chi sin tib dek Road or off Head Street at the southeast edge of the village. Exhibits explain the fascinating geology, ecology and cultural history of the parks with a tour through a mock-up cave, secrets of the underwater park and a miniature lighthouse. A film show takes visitors on a helicopter ride over the peninsula’s most spectacular scenery. Interpretive programs put people in touch with indigenous plants and animals they might encounter in the wild. A 20-metre high, wooden lookout tower, the
Ontario’s “deep south” provincial park – at the same latitude as Northern California. Campgrounds are situated among a tangle of creeks in a beautifully wooded Carolinian forest setting with a number of creekside campsites. Trails wind through a southern style Carolinian forest. Many migratory birds pass through and Point Pelee National Park is only 20 minutes away. The day-use area features two kilometres of sandy beach and a children's playground. Unique foot bridges over a creek system connects campgrounds to day-use areas.
Skinner's Bluff is accessed north of Lake Charles via Centre Road and east on Colpoy's Range Road to a small parking area before the road descends a steep hill. Friendly horses often greet hikers at a pasture beside the trail entrance. The views are magnificent from the east and north sides of the escarpment, high above the forests and islands of Colpoy's Bay. The cliffs present sheer drop-offs and overhanging ledges in places where the Bruce Trail follows the edge of the escarpment. The views are especially striking during the autumn colour displays.
Pinery Provincial Park is located on Lake Huron near Grand Bend, Ontario. It is a natural environment-class Provincial Park created to help preserve Ontario's largest oak savanna and its 9 km. of beach dune ecology. To preserve this habitat, a population control program for White Tailed Deer has been implemented. During the early 1960s, when the value of native savanna was not recognized, large numbers of Red and White Pine trees were planted in the park, displacing the native vegetation. That is also how the park got its name. The Old Ausable Channel is a wide, slow-moving river which flows
Hullett Provincial Wildlife Area is located east of Clinton between Hydro Line Road and Summerhill Road. This 2,200-hectare, diverse wetland provides superb opportunities for wildlife viewing, fishing, hunting, hiking, horseback riding and canoeing. Facilities include viewing platforms and trails that can be hiked along raised dikes. Water access is not permitted from May 15 to August 1 to minimize disturbance to nesting waterfowl.
Pretty River Valley Provincial Park is a nature reserve that straddles the escarpment southeast of Blue Mountain. The Bruce Trail and several side trails run through the area where mossy limestone, fern covered outcrops and hidden crevice caves abound. The cave passages are very narrow and fun to explore. Petun Conservation Area is another rugged trail area located just 1 km north of the Pretty River Valley trails. The park is also accessible below the escarpment from Nottawasaga Side Road 30/31 or Pretty River Road. It is not advisable to venture off trails in winter due to the danger of
Killarney Provincial Park, the jewel of Ontario's wilderness parks, is accessible via Highway 637, Highway 6 at Charlton Lake near Willisville or Lake Panache via Road 10. The stunning La Cloche Mountains contain lakes that are famous for their azure colour and clarity. Some are so lucid that their bottoms can be seen many fathoms below. Hiking trails provide access to interior lakes and ethereal, quartz ridges with panoramic vistas from the Silhouette Trail and Silver Peak, the highest point in the park. Backcountry campsites are limited and must be reserved in advance. Paddlers entering the
One visit to historic Southampton, oldest port on the Bruce Coast, and visitors will know why it makes a great destination. The beaches are free of automobile traffic, hence the peaceful surroundings that make Southampton one of the most idyllic communities on Lake Huron. Take a stroll along the beach boardwalk to the Long Dock Beach and admire the giant flagpole at the end of High Street. A picnic shelter is located at 273 Front Street. The Chantry Dunes raised boardwalk is accessible from Island Street; the west end explores the delicate savannah ecosystem along the dunes. The beach is also
The Beaver River is designated a Heritage River due to its beautiful scenery and important wetland habitat. A 25-km., 5-hour canoe trip is possible from Kimberley to the Slabtown dam north of Heathcote. The route begins at the Beaver River access point on Grey Road 13 just north of Kimberley. The river meanders through an extensive swamp where wildlife viewing opportunities are outstanding. North of the Epping bridge, the wetlands give way to pastures and orchards where blossoms are spectacular during May and swimming holes are inviting. The river from Slabtown to Clarksburg becomes
Grundy Lake Provincial Park has beautiful camping and beaches, including group campsites, drive-through sites for motor homes and secluded back country sites. The park contains old growth forest, trails and scenic lookouts and it is home to some rare species such as the Pink Lady's Slipper and Blandings Turtle. It has a nature display centre and operates guided hikes, canoe instruction and nature interpretive programs. All the park lakes are free of motor boats to keep them quiet and free of pollution. Canoe and boat rentals are located outside the park at the junction of Highways 522 &
The Cup & Saucer Trail is located 18 km. west of Little Current at the junction of Highway 540 and Bidwell Road. The lower trail follows the saucer, or base of the bluff while the higher trail leads around the cup at the top of the escarpment. Several trail routes vary between 3.8 and 12 km. loops. The most challenging Adventure Trail encounters steep ledges and a rock chimney that has split off the main cliff face. The highest point on the island, at 352 metres above sea level, has views of the bays and surrounding countryside that are breath taking, especially during the autumn colour
The Nottawasaga River is a scenic canoe route that is navigable from Willow Creek, a 1-hour paddle above Edenvale to Wasaga Beach. The river has phenomenal scenery along serpentine channels that cut through high banks and sand dunes. It also flows through the Minesing Wetland Conservation Area, one of Southern Ontario's largest swamps that is a haven for wildlife viewing. Fishing is best at Jacks Lake or the Oxbow or Montgomery Rapids in spring and fall when trout and salmon swim up the river. Edenvale Park has a picnic area and boat launch located at the bridge on Highway 26. Klondike Sports
The Goderich-Auburn Rail Trail (GART) follows a remnant of the 1907-1989 CP Railway bed that provides a packed pathway for cycling, hiking and skiing and horseback riding as far as the Maitland River and continues on the east bank to Auburn; snowmobiling is allowed on the east section of the trail only. The trail passes through thick forest, wildflower meadows, ponds and fields for unparalleled views of wildlife and the countryside. Near its beginning at Lake Huron, the trail passes a side trail to a massive, 200 year-old oak tree and the Meneset Arboretum at kilometre 2.75 where native trees
MacGregor Point is one of the most unique natural places along the Lake Huron shoreline. A complex ecosystem unfolds at this all-season park on a seven-kilometre stretch of coast, just south of Port Elgin. Numerous hiking and cycling trails allow access throughout the park as well as the Gore Drain Trail link to Port Elgin. Park interpreters offer a full summer program of activities including guided walks by the shore and through silver maple swamps, cattail marshes, ponds, fens and bogs that reveal unusual inhabitants. A Ducks Unlimited wetland within the park augments the habitat for
Rondeau offers unique car camping experiences in two ecosystems that are very rare in Canada. Camping in these habitats provides park visitors with the possibility of up-close interactions with rare and interesting animals including Ontario’s only lizard, the Common Five-lined Skink, and the striking Red-headed Woodpecker. The main campground at Rondeau opens the first Friday in April and closes the last Sunday in October. It is located in the north end of the park in an Oak Savanna ecosystem, within walking distance of sandy beaches, the Park Store, prime fishing
Torrance Barrens nature reserve, located on Southwood Road 13 south of Torrance, has trails over intriguing alvars where Ontario’s only lizard, the Five-lined Skink can be found as well as other rare reptiles such as the Massasauga Rattlesnake and Spotted Turtle. These beautiful animals are protected by law and may NEVER be removed from their natural environment, which is the only place where they can truly flourish. The Barrens is also a Dark Sky Reserve where stargazing is simply amazing! The trails can be bicycled or hiked over terrain that varies from open rock alvars to forests
Little Cove is a fascinating part of Bruce Peninsula National Park, just east of Tobermory. A small parking lot and interpretive sign are the only facilities located a short walk from the cove. It is a favourite dive site for SCUBA divers since it holds underwater cliffs, caves and concoidal fractures that are caused by post-glacial pressure releases on the rock. The Bruce Trail follows the shoreline where extremely rugged and picturesque rock formations are located. Hikers should be wary of their footing; the rocks are slippery when wet. Sea stacks, eroded passageways and holes in the
Jack Miner became the founder of the migratory waterfowl refuge system by creating the Jack Miner Migratory Bird Sanctuary in 1904. Five years later he pioneered the banding of migrating waterfowl; the recovery data was instrumental in the establishment of the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1916 between the USA and Canada as no government banding programs had been in existence at that time. The Jack Miner Migratory Bird Foundation was established in 1931 in the United States and in 1936 in Canada to continue the good work of Jack Miner. The Foundation is a charitable organization that operates
Fathom Five National Marine Park contains both significant geological and man-made heritage sites such as unusual rock formations, shipwrecks and lighthouses. Flowerpot Island Tour boats visit the shipwrecks before docking at Flowerpot Island. Flowerpot Island cruises last an hour and twenty minutes and passengers may disembark to return on the boat later. A visiting fee is charged by Parks Canada. Flowerpot Island has two rock pillars on its east side that were created by wave and ice erosion. These sea stacks look like huge flowerpots; hence the name. Flat limestone shelves at water
Wasaga Beach Provincial Park's Blueberry Plains Trails offer scenic hiking through high, forested dunes with scenic lookouts and ample opportunities to see wildlife. In winter, the Wasaga Nordic Ski Centre maintains 30 km. of groomed cross-country ski trails and snowshoeing areas including warm-up shelters with fires and a chalet with rentals and refreshments.
The Shipley Trail is a hidden gem in the midst of a busy resort town such as Port Elgin. It best accessed from the Town Pond Trail at the end of Upper Avenue where fishing is allowed for youths 16 and under. The trail continues south to join the Shipley Trail at the bend in Mitchell Lane where it follows the post glacial shoreline ridge of Lake Huron through scenic forest interspersed by rolling swales and spring fed trout ponds. The trail ends at McKinnon Lane, which links to Shipley Avenue and Gobles Grove beach.
Oliphant has a very wide and shallow sand beach that is a favourite spot for wind surfers and kite boarders. The dredged channels also provide a harbour for small boats. The reedy bays and rocky shoals are great for bass and perch fishing. Oliphant Fen Boardwalk, located at Oliphant 1.5 km. north of the dock, is a 470-metre boardwalk that provides access to a delicate wetland. Colourful wildflowers including rare orchids, Fringed Gentian, Indian Paintbrush and insect-eating plants grow in the fen. Petrel Point, just north of Red Bay and St. Jean Point, north of Howdenvale, are other local
Holiday Beach Conservation Area offers a long sandy beach on the Lake Erie shoreline, plus many other amenities. It is ideal for a day at the beach, a beautiful picnic, hiking, cycling, fishing and controlled waterfowl hunting in the autumn. Holiday Beach Conservation Area has serviced seasonal campsites, new showers and washrooms, large shady picnic areas, a playground, nature trails, a boardwalk, and a three storey observation tower. It is also one of the sites at which Conservation Education Field Studies are conducted. Holiday Beach and Big Creek Conservation Areas received international
On the west shore of the peninsula, the Singing Sands Beach at Dorcas Bay has extensive sand flats, wooded dunes and a picnic area. The gradient of the beach is so shallow that bathers can walk out for hundreds of metres. It is one of the best places in Ontario to see rare flowers such as the rare Ram's Head orchid and Showy Lady's Slipper; 44 species of orchids grow on the peninsula. Other unusual plants that grow in the wet fens are Indian Paintbrush and the insect eating Pitcher Plant, which derives much of its nutrients by digesting insects that fall into its jug like appendage. These
Highway 559 leads to Snug Harbour or Dillon, which are good launch locations for boating around Franklin Island. The island has starkly sculpted, multi-coloured rock and convoluted shorelines that form intriguing shapes. Wilderness campsites can be found on crown land surrounding the area. Snug Harbour lighthouse presides over the inlet while the Red Rock lighthouse appears as a squat fortress on a tiny island offshore. The hamlets offer fishing, marine services, cottage resorts and lovely beaches.
Take a hike along one of the most beautiful old growth forest trails in Essex region. While exploring this 19-hectare Carolinian woodland, you’ll see Tulip-tree, Sassafras, Black Gum, Sycamore and Flowering Dogwood trees, as well as wildflowers such as Trillium, Jack-in-the-pulpit, May Apple, Spring Beauty and Columbine, to mention just a few. Kopegaron Woods Conservation Area is renowned for its spring wildflowers and is a great place for photographers to hone their skills in the brilliant sea of colour that lines the trails. Boardwalk trails meander through this conservation area, and
Pristine, sandy beaches, trails, breathtaking headlands, boat dockage, camping and cabins can be found on Beausoleil Island, part of Georgian Bay Islands National Park. The park also provides nature interpretation programs. Access is by private boat, local water taxi or DayTripper* park ferry from Honey Harbour. The park is also the gateway to Georgian Bay’s fabulous 30,000 Islands, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve that is unequalled in its beauty and biodiversity. It is the world’s largest fresh-water archipelago. The region contains the iconic, windswept pines, oak savannahs and
The Piping Plover is one of Canada's rarest birds; only a few dozen remain in the Great Lakes region. In recent years the tiny shore bird has reestablished its former nesting range on sandy shorelines and dunes such as Sauble Beach with the help of local conservation groups and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The plover nests from May to August along the north end of the beach where protective cages have been set up to guard the nests against predators such as gulls, hawks and cats. Plovers are not shy, but they are easily disturbed when they have chicks, so visitors should leave
Crevice caves are located in the Duncan Escarpment Provincial Nature Reserve located just east of Duncan along The Blue Mountains Euphrasia Townline. Massive chunks of limestone have split and broken off the escarpment to create a labyrinth of tunnels, narrow corridors and grottos along the cliffs. Networks of cedar roots splay across the rocks like tentacles groping for cracks to anchor into and the rocks harbour many unusual species of ferns and lichens. The Bruce Trail runs through the area, providing rugged and scenic trekking for hikers and skiers.
Beautiful, unspoiled – yet accessible, the French River Provincial Waterway Park is best described as a 105-km. long series of island dotted lakes, connected by falls and rapids. Look over your shoulder as you portage around a rapid – you may sense the spirits of past French Canadian voyageurs traversing this first water highway to the west. Such a place is Recollet Falls, which may be reached by a 1.5-km. trail from the Park Visitor Centre at Hwy 69. The falls has a nice picnic spot with an impressive view on the edge of the thunderous cataract. Other rapids like Devil’s
Towering cliffs surround the hidden enclave of Hope Bay with its lovely beach. Washrooms and a picnic site adjoin the beach. A trek along the Bruce Trail to the Jack Post Side Trail on the north escarpment reveals giant glacial potholes in the beautiful, old growth forest of Hope Bay Forest Nature Reserve where many rare ferns grow along the limestone cliffs. The cylindrical potholes were eroded out of the bedrock by spinning boulders caught in giant whirlpools during the previous Ice Age meltdown. They attest to the power of the vortices that were created as water surged between gaps in the escarpment.
Bass Lake Creek creates a pretty cascade past a replica of the historic, water-powered Batman’s Sawmill. A viewing platform is located beside a fish ladder where jumping fish can be observed during spring or fall spawning runs. A picturesque boardwalk links this park with the village along Mill Street. Docks, launch ramps, toilets and a picnic area provide parking and access to the lake at the end of Dunlop Street.
The 14-km Trout Hollow Trail forms a loop along both banks of the Bighead River Conservation Area. The trail is marked with yellow blazes and follows the valley through open meadows, thick forests and some steep ridges that make for challenging hiking. Many high lookouts afford spectacular views of the river's braided channels and rapids. The Bighead River is well known for its sustenance of Rainbow trout, and good fishing holes can be found along its course. The trail also encounters several historic ruins of a sawmill, electric power station, grist mill and water flume. John Muir, the
The Pottawatomi & Jones Falls Conservation Area has several wooded trails that cross the Pottawatomi River to reach Jones Falls beside Highway 6 at Springmount. Numerous ferns and wildflowers can be seen in the forest. The trails start at the Grey-Bruce Information Centre, which has a picnic area and washrooms.
Head west off Stokes Bay Road to Myles Bay Shore Road and Sandy Beach Road to find Black Creek Provincial Park, an idyllic beach bounded by wooded dunes and a creek that lazily meanders into the sheltered bay. The day use park has free parking, toilets, picnic tables and hiking trails along the creek. It is a great spot to launch a small boats or kayaks to explore the convoluted shoreline and islands around Stokes Bay.
Fish Point, on the southwestern tip of Pelee Island, is a 110-hectare Provincial Nature Reserve. It features dunes and the intriguing, crescent shaped sand spit that constantly shifts with water erosion along this most southerly tip of Essex Region that is inhabited. Middle Island, an uninhabited nature reserve located a bit further south, is the absolute most southern land in Canada. Dangerous rip currents can be present at the tip during windy conditions so swimming there is not recommended. Hiking and cycling trails and continuous beaches provide access to the area. Fish Point contains
Misery Bay Provincial Nature Reserve is located south of Elizabeth Bay. It harbours rare plants and animals such as the Lakeside Daisy, Pitcher's Thistle and Blandings Turtle among its fens, dunes and limestone alvars. The fissured, flat pavements are easily accessible for wheelchairs in many places and they create a surreal landscape as they gradually slope into the shoreline. Misery Bay has a wide, shallow beach that sweeps around the bay, offering excellent wading areas. The park has several trails and an interpretive centre. It is one of the island’s best bird watching spots.
Lighthouse Point Provincial Nature Reserve occupies about 100 hectares on the island's northeastern spit and has several hiking trails, a long sandy beach that extends down the island's east side and the Pelee Lighthouse. On the west side of the spit, Lake Henry Marsh offers wildlife viewing opportunities and spectacular sunsets. The Blue Racer Snake, the Eastern Spiny Soft-shelled Turtle, and the Smallmouth Salamander are among several rare species found within the reserve. There are remnants of deciduous forests, savannas and an expanse of wetland rich in aquatic plants. The reserve
Lambton Heritage Forest at Port Franks encompasses oak savanna forest, high dunes, wetlands and numerous trails that allow public access to explore this rare and beautiful ecosystem. The nature reserve protects exquisite oak forests and savannah meadows with habitat for Carolinian species that only live in the microclimate along the lake. On hot summer days the scent of juniper and pine among the dunes is intoxicating and the buzzing of cicadas creates a magical atmosphere. The Karner Blue Sanctuary has several walking trails at 9904 Nipigon Street. Thedford Conservation Area has nature
Adjacent to Lake Erie, the walking trails, nature centre, washrooms and viewing towers at Hillman Marsh can be accessed from the main entrance. Swimming beaches are accessible North Beach parking lot on Mersea Rd. 2 and from South Beach parking lot located on East Beach Road. The area also has cross-country skiing, fishing, canoe and kayak launches. The nature centre is open at limited times during the spring with educational displays about flora and fauna typical to the area. Witnessing migration activity at the Spring Shore and Songbird Festival in May is one of the highlights of
Awenda Provincial Park offers a retreat to wild shorelines, scenic trails, pristine beaches and nature interpretive programs. The shorelines exhibit gigantic boulders with colourful patterns and shapes. Cyclists may also use the Bluff, Beach and Brûlé Trails. The Robitaille Homestead Trail leads to ruins of a pioneer farm and spectacular lookout over Georgian Bay. Kettle’s Lake has a sheltered beach, fishing, barrier free ramp access, viewing platform and canoe rentals. It is one of the few lakes in Ontario that contains Eastern Floater Mussels. The park has campsites and
The Rankin River tributary is navigable from Sky Lake to Boat Lake where the river meanders through marshes that shelter osprey and Black tern nesting sites. River access is possible from three locations: The Red Bay Road runs west from Mar and crosses between Sky Lake and Isaac Lake that have some of the best bass and pike fishing in Ontario. A boat launch is located beside the bridge on County Road 13. Isaac Lake Nature Reserve has a picnic area, boat ramp and numerous nesting sanctuaries for waterfowl. It is located at the east shore of the lake on Isaac Lake Road.
Rare plant habitats with exquisite wildflowers such as Lakeside Daisies and Dwarf Lake Irises can be found at Bruce Alvar Nature Reserve, just off Highway 6 a half-kilometre north of Dyer’s Bay Rd. The best season for viewing flowers is May to mid-June. Alvars are bedrock pavement areas that have little soil and undergo extreme climatic fluctuations. As a result only the hardiest plants can thrive there, some of which are found nowhere else in Canada. Visitors should stay on trails to avoid damaging the fragile growth underfoot.
Cedar Beach is a popular sandy spot for swimming, sunbathing and picnicking. Located at the mouth of Cedar Creek, it is also a good spot for fishing. The Cedar Creek basin is probably the most significant, most extensive and beautiful natural area in the Essex Region. Contributing to the diversity of this area are Carolinian woodlands, rolling landscapes, creeks, tributaries and abundant wildlife. Cedar Creek is a pristine natural area offering excellent bird watching opportunities. Be inspired by the sight of eagles soaring, herons and egrets wading, and turtles basking on logs. View the
Inverhuron Provincial Park has one of the most spectacular beaches and best sunsets in the world, with picnic and washroom facilities, a boat launch and camping May to October. The park also contains a 4,000 year-old aboriginal archaeological site and is developing an amphitheatre for interpretive programs. Native artifacts found in the park can be viewed at the gatehouse. An historic pioneer cemetery and lime kiln are located in the park. Scenic Drive Trail can be biked along the coast. The landscape along the Huron Fringe has interesting formations such as sand dunes, limestone outcrops,
Bayfield Inlet, on Hwy 529-A, has boat access to the colourfully veined and polished Painted Rocks along the north shore of Charles Inlet where hikers can explore fantastic alvars for kilometres. The Georgian Bay archipelago contains idyllic swimming, picnic spots, fabulous fishing, camping and cottage resorts. The 30,000 Islands are truly spectacular as the world’s most extensive lake based island chain. Its glacier-scoured, granite islands dotted by windswept pines, contain some of Canada’s most incredible scenery.
Brucedale Conservation Area is located on the shoreline of Lake Huron south of Port Elgin. This small gem is home to only 52 campsites, very much the way nature intended them, large and spacious. The entire campsite is located within mature hardwoods making for an excellent camping experience. This campsite has simple amenities but its popularity never wanes. Its small size provides an intimate camping experience without the hustle and bustle of the larger, more commercial campsites. In addition, for those who enjoy being on the lake, this location is well known for its beautiful
The Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre lets visitors discover the secrets of wetlands with the help of staff naturalists. Look for life in the water with guided canoe excursions or the marsh from accessible floating boardwalks and an observation tower. Enjoy the grace of the magnificent Trumpeter Swans, North America’s largest waterfowl. Hike, bike or ski the trail system or visit the exhibit hall to find out more about the ecosystem or browse through the displays of books and gifts. The centre also features environment themed events and workshops for all ages. Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre
Bruce’s Caves are named after a hermit who once inhabited them at 502098 County Road 1 east of Oxenden. Follow the Bruce's Caves Road to the parking lot where a short trail leads to the caves. Sea caves are flanked by rock pillars and mossy cliffs festooned by unusual ferns. Hikers can clamber through huge archways and hidden tunnels that were eroded from the escarpment over 10,000 years ago when glacial melt waters raised the Great Lakes levels to that height.
The famous Bruce Trail follows Moore Street to the east bluff and leads up to the top of the escarpment through the Lion’s Head Provincial Nature Reserve, providing panoramic views of the bay. This area contains the largest concentration of glacial potholes in Ontario and it has many challenging rock faces that are favourites among climbers. The potholes are huge cylinders that were bored into the rock by stones caught in whirlpools during the Ice Age meltdown. Hikers can climb into and through some of the potholes that have open walls. The region also boasts the province’s