For all you nature lovers who are looking for a quick escape from your busy lives, Rattray Marsh Conservation Area is the perfect spot for a healthy hike. Located in Mississauga, the lakefront wetland offers a unique experience to see various birds, small critters, numerous trees species and plants. This is a pretty neat place to visit since it’s the last remaining lakefront marsh between Toronto and Burlington.
There are several trails and boardwalks added as part of Rattray Marsh’s design to preserve and keep the natural area undisturbed and we stepped in and explored it all. Within the Conservation Area, there are three trails: Knoll Trail (0.3 km), Secondary Trail (1.8 km) and Pedestrian Trail (1.1 km). The trails are easy, which makes it the perfect hike if you’re just starting out.
One of our favourite parts about the area is the trail that takes you by Lake Ontario’s shoreline where you can catch a view of Toronto out in the distance. We found it really relaxing just to hang out by the water watching the waves. We also hiked along the shoreline and stumbled upon the marsh where we had the chance to see it up close. Seeing this ecosystem was such an interesting experience for us, since we were able to see different wildlife and plant species. So, #StepIntoNature and see what wildlife you can spot!
When we first started hiking a few years ago, we didn’t pack very well, nor were we very prepared for what we’d encounter. We hoped for the best and went from there! But as our obsession for exploring grew, we started investing in more stuff that made our adventures a little easier.
We know that if you’re new to hiking, it might be a little overwhelming to head to the trail without being completely ready. Don’t fret: we’ve got you covered with these tips for when you start your adventurous journey.
What to wear
- Sturdy footwear
Whether it’s a pair of running shoes or hiking boots, it’s important to make sure you have a sturdy pair of footwear. Rattray Marsh is easy on your feet but other trails can be filled with tons of rocks and tree roots that you can easily trip on. So, it’s much better to have shoes with support to help protect you from these hazards. Don’t feel pressured to purchase an expensive pair of hiking boots if you’re just starting out. Any pair of runners will do the trick for a short hike. But if you’re doing long hikes in difficult terrain, then it might be good to invest in pair of quality hiking boots.
This can be a pair of comfortable hiking pants, athletic tights or trousers. While pants will keep your legs protected from hazards like poisonous plants or insect bites, shorts are good to keep cool on hot days and offer more mobility.
It’s ideal to wear shirts that are moisture wicking, but you really just need any comfortable top that offers flexibility. On some hikes, we find ourselves needing to use a rock or tree root to help us climb up the trail. Tops with more movement allow us to get around obstacles better!
- Rain gear
In cooler and rainy weather, it’s important to pack a jacket. Make sure it’s waterproof with a hood to help protect you from rain or hail. If you get one with pockets, you can keep your phone or camera in for easy reach! If you don’t have a rain jacket, you can also use a poncho to keep dry, but it’s not as comfortable.
On sunny days, it’s always good to bring a brimmed hat to protect your face from the sun. When we went to Rattray Marsh, it was one of the hottest days of the year, so we made sure we had one during our hike.
But before you go, be sure to bring some essentials with you:
What to Pack
- A small backpack
You don’t need to invest in anything fancy, but it’s nice to have a small and lightweight backpack to carry all of your things. Having one with more pockets is useful for organizing everything, but not necessary.
- Sunscreen and insect repellent
It’s important to protect your skin from the sun as well as insects. There’s nothing worse than coming home with sunburn and insect bites all over your skin. It’s not fun.
- First Aid kit
It doesn’t hurt to keep a simple first aid kit on you. You can either buy one or make your own. We made ours with bandages, alcohol wipes, medical tape, scissors and gauze. Getting scrapes and cuts happen all the times, so we found it’s helpful to be prepared when that happens.
Bring a camera or phone to take awesome photos from your hikes. Make sure your batteries are fully charged before you start. A phone is also extremely useful in emergency situations, should one come up.
- Water and snacks
Hydration is key for any hike! Always bring plenty of water on a hike, especially if it’s a hot day. On longer hikes, we like to bring snacks like fruits, nuts, peanut butter sandwiches, beef jerky or protein bars to keep our energy up. But if that’s not your taste, bring something that’s easy and tasty to munch on!
Rattray Marsh Conservation Area Q&A:
- Where is it located?
There are two points of access. You can either park and walk in at 1180 Lakeshore Road West, Jack Darling Park or walk in from 50 Bexhill Road, L5H 1L1.
- What are the hours of operation?
It opens after sunrise and closes before sunset daily.
- Is there an admission fee?
- What’s the difficulty of the trails?
The trails are pretty easy and well maintained.
- Can I bring my dog?
Of course! Just make sure they are leashed.
- What’s not permitted?
Please note that there’s no cycling or fishing permitted here.
- What facilities are offered here?
There’s limited parking available, washrooms and picnic tables at Jack Darling Municipal Park.
- What can I do or see here?
You can check out the walking trails, go bird watching, practice your photography skills, hang out at the Lake Ontario Shoreline, take your dog for a walk, walk along the boardwalks or hike the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail.