ClimateCare retailers are found all over Ontario. They are owned and operated by local professionals, and many members of the ClimateCare team like to get out and explore.
We recently discovered we have a great network of hiking knowledge all over Ontario!
If you want to get out with the family for an easy hike this evening, or a more intensive hike this weekend, we have some great recommendations.
Free access to national parks.
The Canada 150 free national park pass gives your family access to national parks, so don’t go showing up at provincial parks like Algonquin or Kawartha Highlands Park expecting free entrance.
Only 7 national parks are scattered across Ontario. Some are close to the GTA, but most are a decent road trip away. From closest to furthest from Toronto, the national parks you can explore for free with your family are:
- Rouge National Urban Park. It’s just outside Toronto, on the border of Scarborough and Pickering. You’ll be shocked by the natural landscape so close to the big city.
- Georgian Bay Islands National Park is a small but diverse park about 175 km from the heart of Toronto, just north of Barrie along the 400. The park boasts bike and hiking trails, but gets the best of its reputation from the waterways. 63 small islands create a winding network of canoe and kayak paths you can enjoy for days on end.
- Bruce Peninsula National Park has it all. You can hike, climb, canoe, swim, lay in the sun, explore, get lost, and more. This northern end of the Niagara Escarpment is one of the most striking natural areas in Ontario. North of Owen Sound, the park is almost 300km from Toronto, so pack a lunch. It’s the 2nd largest national park in Ontario.
- Fathom Five National Marine Park is just a couple kilometres past Bruce Peninsula, and gives swimmers, divers and boaters of all kinds access to clear waters and shallow shipwrecks to explore. Not to be missed.
- Thousand Islands National Park is home to a long list of creatures not found anywhere else in Canada. It’s about 300km from Toronto and offers plenty to explore both on and off land.
- Point Pelee National Park is only 15 sq. km., but it packs a punch. It’s a haul, at just over 350km away from Toronto, but you won’t find a more pristine wetland with such a variety of birds anywhere in the province.
- For a longer trip away from home, Pukaskwa National Park encompasses a huge swath of the Canadian Shield along Lake Superior’s north shore. It’s the largest national park in Ontario, at 1,818 sq. km., but it’s also about 1,100km from Toronto.
What about some simple local hikes?
Families in Kitchener, Hamilton, Burlington, Milton, Guelph and all the way up to Owen Sound have countless opportunities to hop on the Bruce Trail and enjoy the main trail as well as smaller trail loops.
Two great waterfall hikes along the Bruce are the Great Falls Loop and the Felker’s to Albion Falls walk.
- The Great Falls Loop is a 3.5km return hike that starts on Mill St. South, in Waterdown. There is also an additional 1.1km side trail to extend your hike.
- Felker’s to Albion Falls is a 10km return hike with 4 beautiful waterfalls to enjoy along the way. It starts at Felker’s Falls Conservation Area and ends at the same spot. Several side trails pop up along the way if you want a diversion.
Hikes closer to Kawartha Lakes.
Dunsford Nature Trail, northeast of Lindsay, runs along a converted railway line for about 2.5km through an area of lowland swamp and forest at the headwaters of a branch of Emily Creek. It’s quick and accessible and great for getting some fresh air with the family.
Toward Pontypool, the 2.2km Valley Trail offers an observation platform above the valley and a more adventurous walk into the forested lands below.
Ken Reid Conservation Area contains 12 interconnected trail loops totaling close to 12km. It’s one of the best areas to get out with young kids, where the shortest trail is only 400 metres in length, and you can string together several short trails to avoid any stuck-on-the-trail-and-cranky situations.
Hiking near Ottawa and Arnprior.
Morris Island Conservation Area on the banks of the Ottawa River has a series of groomed walking paths, easily accessible to hikers of all ages.
Luskville Falls trail in Gatineau is a 4k loop trail with a waterfall and moderate climb up the rocky slope of the Eardley Escarpment. The top of the trail allows a breathtaking view of the Ottawa River Valley.
The Nut Grove Trail, outside Kemptville, is a 2.2km trail with a long boardwalk that gets moderately busy in the summer. The birds are lively and vocal, giving kids the opportunity to spot and try to name some birds.
One of the best things about being independent business owners is the freedom to live and work where we want, and ClimateCare retailers love exploring their communities. Often, they’ve been there for generations.
Get out and enjoy some fresh air and clear skies this summer. And when you get home, stay cool and comfortable with a tuned-up air conditioner you know won’t break down when you need it.