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Crawford Lake

for First-Time Visitors

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So, you want to explore Ontario’s Conservation Areas? You’re in the right place.

If you’re planning your first trip to a Conservation Area, Hi and Welcome! We’re here to provide you with some helpful tips and information that will enhance your experience and make it a memorable one, and (hopefully!) turn you into a repeat Conservation Area visitor. Below you’ll find some useful information on a series of topics that will help you hit the ground (trails) running. 

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Father & Son

Did You Know?

Ontario’s Conservation Areas are home to 3,510km of trails

Across Ontario you’ll find more than 300 just waiting to be explored. Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities collectively own and operate over 500 Conservation Areas with a total area of more than 150,000 hectares, making Conservation Authorities one of the largest property owners in the Province.

More than 300 Conservation Areas are accessible to the public. They play an important environmental, educational and recreational role in Ontario, and contribute to the physical and mental well-being of over 10 Million visitors annually. Hidden within these natural gems are lakes, rivers and streams, wetlands, sand dunes, beaches, waterfalls, caves, forests, natural heritage sites, and more. Plan your visit and StepIntoNature #HealthyHikes!

According to Hike Ontario, walking is more than an enjoyable mode of transportation

It can also improve your fitness, health and mental well-being. Walking relieves stress and tension, refreshes the mind, reduces fatigue and increases energy. More than half the body's muscles are designed for walking; it is a natural movement that is virtually injury-free. Walking provides an enjoyable time for sharing and socializing with friends and family.

Regular, brisk walking can reduce elevated blood fats or blood pressure, and improve digestion and elimination. Regular walking increases the number of calories you expend and helps you feel good about your body. When combined with healthy eating, walking will help you maintain a healthy weight and a positive body image. Brisk walking is an aerobic activity as it increases the body's demand for oxygen and trains your heart, lungs and muscles to work more efficiently.

Did You Know?

You will find many different types of trails at Conservation Areas each offering a unique experience

When planning your visit decide if you would like to try foot trails, multi-use trails, bikeways, boardwalks, or interpretive/nature trails. Trails can be footpaths with natural surfaces, multi-use tracks with manufactured surfaces, on-road bicycle routes, walkways, boardwalks and sidewalks, utility corridors or former rail lines, forestry and mining access roads designated as trails, waterways and portage routes.

Woman on boardwalk

Nature For All

Ontario’s Conservation Areas are safe, welcoming, and inclusive greenspaces for all identities and abilities. Everyone deserves to experience nature with abandon.

Visit an accessible Conservation Area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Your Conservation Area visit should be a fun and memorable experience. Here, we’ve compiled a list of tips that will help you make the most out of your visit.

Conservation Areas are open year-round or seasonally from early spring to late fall. You can visit seven days a week, however, we encourage you to check the website before your visit for operating hours or service interruptions.

Want to get to your favourite Conservation Area safely and quickly – let Waze or Google Maps be your guide.

Want to visit a Conservation Area, but you don’t drive or have access to a car? Let Park Bus take care of your transportation needs to select Conservation Areas.

Online reservations are required at all Conservation Halton Parks throughout the year. During peak times online reservations are required at select Credit Valley Conservation, Hamilton Conservation Authority, and Grand River Conservation Authority Conservation Areas.

Secure your campsite! Online reservations are required to book campsites at Conservation Areas.

We’re happy to share that admission to many Conservation Areas is FREE! The small cost for entry at some Conservation Areas goes towards maintaining and protecting these natural ecological spaces and the creation of activities, programs, and services.

A Park Pass is not available to access all Conservation Areas that require an admission fee. However, you can purchase an Individual, Family, or Senior annual pass from many Conservation Areas.

The Credit Valley Conservation Parks Pass also gives access to Toronto and Region Conservation Authority parks thanks to their Conservation Parks partnership.

For your safety and the health of the environment, stay on marked trails when visiting Conservation Areas – don’t trample habitat. Access is only permitted on marked trails and trail surfaces provided. Staying on the trail will also reduce your exposure to poisonous plants and ticks and protect our native plants and animals.

Respect the privacy of our Conservation Area neighbours along trails by staying on marked trails and avoiding excessive noise. Off-trail use is not permitted. Do not climb fences or take shortcuts. Obey all posted signage. Give the right of way to smaller and slower users, and cyclists should follow dismounting signage. Stay right when approaching oncoming users.

Visits to Conservation Areas are on a steady increase with more and more people wanting to experience nature, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. But, sometimes with more people, comes more problems such as litter, invasive species, and trail erosion. Some things to keep in mind when planning your next visit.

Have more questions?

Use Our Online Map To Plan Your Trip

Use our Conservation Areas map to locate more than 300 Conservation Areas across Ontario. Plan your trip based on Location, Activity, Facilities, Accessibility, and more.

Download our FREE Conservation Areas Guide

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Resources & Articles

Rockwood Conservation Area

Rockwood Conservation Area

With towering limestone cliffs, caves and glacial potholes, it’s no wonder that Rockwood Conservation Area is…

Rattray Marsh Conservation Area

Rattray Marsh Conservation Area

For all you nature lovers who are looking for a quick escape from your busy lives,…

Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area

Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area

From bold-faced cliffs to beautiful views of the escarpment, Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area offers a fun…

Old Baldy Conservation Area

Old Baldy Conservation Area

Looking for a different kind of adventure? If you love hiking and rock climbing, Old Baldy…

Eramosa Karst Conservation Area

Eramosa Karst Conservation Area

At Eramosa Karst Conservation Area, the park is filled with treasures including forests, meadows and underground streams.

Bruce's Mill Conservation Area

Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area

Looking for a fun place for a family outing? Head out to Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area in Stouffville…