Enjoy the Best of Spring on One of These 5 Inspiring Hikes
Dust off your hiking boots and discover wildlife, majestic waterfalls and flowers on the trails of the GTA
After a winter of heavy snowfall, bracing windstorms and sub-zero temperatures, spring is bringing new life back to the GTA. And there are plenty of wild places that will reacquaint you with the great outdoors.
Not all trails are suitable for spring hiking; some can be muddy or even treacherous. But others showcase the best that spring has to offer, from early blooms and migrating birds to rushing waterfalls. Here’s where to get out and enjoy the season.
Hilton Falls Conservation Area
Spread out over 1,600 acres, this conservation area is known for its falls, rivers and reservoir—and it’s conveniently located near Highway 401. There are plenty of wooded trails open year-round for hiking, trail running and mountain biking. But in springtime, it’s ablaze with early wildflowers and the sound of chickadees. Hilton Falls is particularly impressive as its volume increases with the snowmelt. Follow the 4.7-kilometre loop trail to the falls from the parking lot.
Bronte Creek Provincial Park
This oasis on the edge of Oakville offers five nature trails ranging from one to 2.7 kilometres in length, including some that are wheelchair accessible. Come here in springtime to see nature’s display of white trilliums—Ontario’s provincial flower—with blooms blanketing the forest floor. The aptly named Trillium Trail, an easy one-kilometre path that starts behind the barns of Spruce Lane Farm, is considered the best place in the park to see trilliums and spring wildflowers.
Tiffin Centre for Conservation
Meander the wetlands, forests, meadows and ancient lake beds of the Tiffin Centre, which are spread out over 300 acres of protected land. The 17 kilometres of looped, flat trails are ideal for hiking and birdwatching in the spring. Plus, thanks to an extensive sugar bush—you can hike the Maple Valley Trail, after all—the conservation area has been hosting the Spring Tonic Maple Syrup Festival for more than three decades. From Barrie or Highway 400, drive west on County Road 90 to the 8th Line of Essa, then turn left and drive four kilometres to find the parking lot.
With a network of winding trails spread out over 400 acres, Toronto’s largest city park is suited for both leisurely strolls and longer hikes. While the park has sporting and cultural facilities and even a zoo, there are plenty of wild places to get away from the crowds, particularly in the western ravine. In springtime, try to catch the cherry blossoms at Hillside Gardens, which bloom ever-so-briefly in late April to early May.
Urban dwellers will have a hard time believing they’re in the middle of Toronto. This 52-hectare ravine system of woodlands and wetlands is home to maple, beech and oak Carolinian forest, with many trees that are more than a century old. In springtime, you’ll spot early wildflowers and possibly white-tailed deer. For a pleasant stroll, the Crothers Woods Trail is a relatively moderate 2.4-kilometre loop from a trailhead near where Laird Drive becomes Millwood Drive, behind the Loblaws parking lot.
Looking for more seasonal activities?
Head to five more beautiful hiking trails that are a short drive from Toronto. Or experience the great outdoors in a more relaxed way and check out these open-air spas across Canada.
Image credit: Conservation Halton/Tourism Burlington, Tourism Simcoe County and Tourism Toronto