With towering limestone cliffs, caves and glacial potholes, it’s no wonder that Rockwood Conservation Area is a popular destination for a healthy hike! From camping and picnicking to canoeing and swimming, this park is filled with tons of activities to enjoy.
Within the Conservation Area, there are two trails: Pothole Trail and Cedar Ridge Trail. Offering impressive views of the park, they take you around the reservoir, along the tops of cliffs, across boardwalks through wetlands and beside big glacial potholes. The trails are moderate difficulty and can be accessed from the beach or the mills ruins.
One of our favorite features about Rockwood is the variety of activities you can try. Step into nature and hike the Cedar Ridge Trail to see the Harris Woolen Mills ruins, glacial bluffs, potholes and caves. If you’re looking to try something different, you can rent a canoe or paddleboat and explore the Eramosa River, and geological wonders. Or, you can always hit the beach on a hot summer day to swim or relax in the sun. Since there are so many things to check out, you can easily spend a whole day here.
If you’ve been hiking for some time, and you’re looking for ways to test your limits, try out our four tips to make your adventure more challenging!
How to challenge yourself?
- Try a different activity
From biking on trails to rock climbing outdoors to swimming in a lake, there are so many activities to explore. Outside of hiking, one of our favourite outdoor activities is canoeing. We love being on the water and pushing ourselves to reach a new destination using a different method. On top of that, there are certain sights you can only see when you’re canoeing, so it’s well worth it. At Rockwood, you can paddle around islands, past towering cliffs and through narrow channels in the reservoir. There’s even a cave you can check out! Canoes and paddleboats can be rented from the kiosk on the beach. Just note that during the fall, the rental kiosk is open on weekends only.
- Hike a more difficult trail
As you may already know, trails will range in difficulty. If you’re looking for a challenge, try a more demanding trail than you’re used to. Just make sure to base it off your comfort levels and ability. If you’re new to hiking, start with an easy trail and then move onto a moderate trail before trying a difficult one. Trails that are marked as difficult have more obstacles and steep slopes to climb up and down. On the more challenging trails, it doesn’t hurt to use a hiking pole or stick. Honestly, it makes a world of difference for your knees!
- Hike a longer distance
On top of difficulty, trails will also range in distance. If you want to challenge yourself, try hiking further each time. If you’re just starting out, always start with shorter trails before moving onto longer ones. Keep in mind that you don’t have to finish the trail. If you’re feeling tired, it’s better to turn back early than to reach your destination and not have the energy to get back safely. When we first started, we could only hike for about an hour or two. Now, we can hike up to nine hours in a day. Keep it up! It’s all about practice and building your endurance.
- Set a timeframe
If you really want to challenge yourself, try setting a time limit for when you finish. Every time you hike, always try to beat your old record. It’s a fun game and gives you something to work towards. Plus, it can really help build your strength and endurance for those difficult and long trails!
Rockwood Conservation Area Q&A:
- Where is it located?
It’s based in Rockwood at 161 Fall Street South.
- What are the hours of operation?
The park is open all-year round for day use from 8:00 a.m. until sunset. Camping season is between May and October.
- Is there an admission fee?
- Is it wheelchair accessible?
Yes. The park is accessible by wheelchairs in most areas.
- What’s the difficulty of the trails?
There are two trails: Pothole Trail and Cedar Ridge Trail. They are moderate difficulty.
- Can I bring my dog?
Of course! Dogs are welcome but must be leashed. Dogs are not allowed in the beach area.
- What are the natural features?
Rockwood has a very unique geological history. A few specific features include glacier bluffs, potholes, caves and some of the oldest dated trees in Ontario. The glacial bluffs were formed in the ice age and can be small and get as large as 30 metres deep and 200 metres wide. There are also over 200 potholes, formed by hard debris, that vary in size and diameter. The caves are also a really popular attraction and have stalactites, columns and flowstone. If you’re planning to visit the caves, make sure to keep your limbs covered, wear a helmet and bring a flashlight.
- What can I do or see here?
You can go camping, canoeing, fishing, hike the trails, go for a swim, have a picnic, try mini-golfing and check out their natural features and Harris Woolen Mills ruins!