Family-Friendly Hiking Trails in the GTA
**Editor’s note: It’s best to call or check the websites of each of these locations before going for current updates.
Hiking is having a moment. Families are flocking to hiking – and loving it – because of its simplicity. There are discoveries of all sorts while hiking: the natural world around you, the excitement of a new geological find, the refreshing outdoor air, and the peace of the forest. Hiking also has physical benefits (those hills!!) and mental, too (nature therapy at its finest). Plus, all you need is a good pair of runners or hikers, a water bottle and you’re good to go. Rediscover the thrill of exploring the great outdoors with these totally awesome trail adventures.
Splitrock Narrows – Mono Cliffs
Just a bit north of Orangeville is an amazing Bruce Trail side trail that features fabulous views, lots of cool crevasses, and…wait for it…a treasure hunt. Find the ten plaques along the side trail loop and you can send away for a “Take a Hike” button. Plenty of tree identification and information plaques make this great for the budding botanists, as well. The hike is less than 4 km, so perfect for youngsters.
Uxbridge is known as the trail capital of Canada, and we can see why. Some meander through town, others through the countryside. Some are suitable for wheelchairs and disability scooters, including the Wooden Sticks Trail and the South Balsam Trail. Other trails focus on the history of the region. So many to choose from!
Forks of the Credit – Caledon
This provincial park is a small beauty, with gorgeous vistas of the Credit River and the opportunity to see some awesome waterfalls. Plus, the drive there passes through pretty countryside.
Lover’s Leap Trail in Elora Gorge
Elora Gorge is a spot that should be on your radar. This place is definitely worth visiting, and hiking the trails gives you some amazing views and is more suitable for kids not yet old enough to go tubing in the Gorge. You’ll see great views of the Grand River, Irvine Creek, and the cove where the two intersect. Very cool limestone cliffs will spark some fairy tale creative thoughts, no doubt.
Scanlon Creek – Bradford
Scanlon Creek is a lovely Conservation Area near Bradford and represents some of Lake Simcoe Watershed’s finest features. Trails are short (the longest is 3 km) and offer boardwalks, lots of flora and fauna, and even a huge adventure playground. Lots of great eating options in Bradford, from Mexican fare to Portuguese custard tarts, make this an outing to remember.
Oliver Creek Side Trail – Mansfield
Maybe you spend a bit of time in Mansfield in the winter skiing. Well, this beautiful area can also be explored all year round! It’s a side trail off the Bruce Trail, so you can certainly go for longer, but the great loop described by the Ontario Nature Trails website results in a 2.8 km loop manageable for the kiddos and still encompasses amazing views of the Boyne River valley.
Spencer Gorge/Webster Falls Conservation Area (Dundas/Hamilton)
This gorgeous area has not one but two waterfalls to check out. The kids will love them both, as well as the cool forest landscape of the gorge below. Be careful around those steep drops, though. Check out the plants and animals that are both rare and spectacularly diverse.
Limehouse Conservation Area – Halton Hills
All short trails and cool features make this Halton Hills conservation area a must-see. The Bruce Trail winds its way through these parts, so expect pristine, well-signed tracks. Check out the restored limestone kilns, powder houses from the past lime industry, as well as the ladders over the “hole in the wall” (if kids are older and/or sure-footed).
River and Ruin Side Trail (Britannia and Blind Line)
photo: Alberto Jaramillo via alltrails.com
Check out the ruins of a stone house built by James Cleaver in Lowville. This is a Bruce Trail side trail and features the cool stone house ruins, and, as the trail name suggests, a river (Bronte Creek). There might even be fossils to find in some of the limestone rocks.
Bond Lake Loop – Richmond Hill
photo: Kevin Warthan via alltrails.com
This is a 2.7 km loop perfect for younger explorers. It circles the lake and has some fun rugged sections with roots and logs, plus wonderful views.