Here are the more popular York Region parks and conservation areas:
Aurora Community Arboretum
135 Industrial Parkway North, Aurora,
Part conservation centre, part formal parkland on a site representative of the native forests, wetlands and meadows, with lots of resident wildlife.
Austin Drive Park (Unionville)
North of Highway # 7, South of Austin Drive, between the Kennedy By-pass and Bullock Drive
This 5.58 hectare (13.8 acre) park has a wooded area (where the forest is being regenerated), a large open space, the Rouge River flowing through, Waldon Pond and a second smaller pond. There are 2 kilometres of pathways for walking, running, and bird watching.
Bartley Smith Greenway
Multiple access points, From Steeles Ave to Maple
This l5 kilometre trail follows the West Don River. The trail commences at Steeles Avenue near Dufferin Street, northward through Marita Payne Park, continuing north to Langstaff Road where the southern trail ends. The trail recommences north of McNaughton Road and continues to Teston Road (Maple).
Boyd Conservation Area
416-667-6299 or 905-851-0575
Islington Avenue, Woodbridge (Vaughan)
(5 kilometres north of Highway #7, just south of Rutherford Rd)
Ninety-six hectares (237 acres) of protected woodand and designated nature trails in the Humber River Valley. Popular for barbecues, picnics and relaxation. Sports venues for camping, bocce, soccer, sand volleyball, and basketball. It opened in 1957, and has 7 kilometres of hiking trails for bird watching and nature hiking. Open: April to October. Admission Adult (16+) $5, senior (60+) $4, children free. Pets allowed but must be kept on-leash.
Bruce's Mill Conservation Area
(just east of Warden Avenue off Highway 404 in Whitchurch-Stouffville.)
There are over 92 hectares of scenic conservation land. Picnic areas beach areas and swimming. Bruce's Mill Conservation Area is part of the future Rouge Park Trail Network, with 10 km of hiking trails. The area houses several wetlands, grassy areas and mature woodlots and is home to more than 50 species of birds. The regular operating season runs from mid-March to early October,open daily 9 am to 8 pm (closing earlier in non-summer months). Admission Adult (16+) $5, senior (60+) $4, children free. Host of TRCA Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival (early March to mid-April). Pets allowed but must be kept on-leash.
German Mills Settlers Park (Thornhill)
SW John Street & Leslie Street This 26 hectare (65 acre) natural area park is part of the German Mills Creek system. There is a peaceful walking area, a gazebo, and a park with trees recently planted by the Thornhill Summit Scouts. In the open area, on the West side of the creek, is a gravel pit and a landfill site.
Bradford West Gwillimbury
Access points: Hggihway 400 to the west and Yonge Street to the east)
Holland Marsh has 2900 hectares (7,200 acres) of organic/muck soil, which drains to the northeast by the Holland River (which in turn empties into Lake Simcoe). The marsh is a flat, level area that was once an arm of glacial Lake Algonquin. As the lake level dropped and the land rebounded when the glaciers receded, and the resulting accumulated dead vegetation for a few centuries on top of the clay pan in the basin. Popular with natives and early European settlers for productive fishing and hunting lands, the marsh was named for surveyor Samuel Holland. In 1925 28 km of dikes were built and drainage operations began along with diversion of the Holland River. The marshlands lie 8 feet below the level of Lake Simcoe. By the early 1930s, 18 Dutch families came to the marsh and began building a prosperous agricultural community. The marsh today is a market garden for the Ontario and foreign markets, producing carrots and onions, and smaller amounts of lettuce, potatoes, celery, parsnips, cabbage, cauliflower and beets. The 1990s added a demand for Asian greens and bok choy.
Humber Trail (William Granger Greenway)
The first and second phases of the gravel Humber Trail (5.7 kilometres) link these areas: Canadian McMichael Art Collection, Boyd Conservation Area and Canada Company Way. It is open and free of charge, for hiking, biking and walking. This section of the Humber Trail is named for William Granger, former chairman of the Toronto Region & Conservation Authority (T.R.C.A.) The trail includes many significant natural habitats, cultural and heritage resources, recreational and educational facilities, and the historic Toronto Carrying-Place Trail which was a key aboriginal trade route. Access Points: Stegman's Mill Road & Islington Avenue at Canada Company Way. The trail ends at Rutherford Road, with no access at this location. Parking: Bindertwine Park; Foster T. Woods.
Kortright Centre for Conservation
905-832-2289 or 905 -661-6600
9550 Pine Valley Dr., Woodbridge
(Pine Valley Dr . runs south off Major Mackenzie Dr., west of Highway 400)
Visit Canada's largest environmental centre, with emphasis on conservation and renewable energy technology. There are over 18 kilometres (11 miles) of trails through mixed woods, marshes, and open parkland. It is home to several peregrine falcons and other birds of prey, including hawks and owls.
Annual events: Maple syrup festival (early spring). Open Mon-Fri: 9am-4pm, Sat-Sun: 10am-4pm, Admission: Adult (16 +) $5.00, Senior (60+) $4.00, Children-Free, Parking-$3.00
Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority
1-800-465-0437 Fax: 905-967-1265
120 Bayview Pkwy, Newmarket, L3Y 4X1
We invite you to pursue a wide range of recreational opportunities in the conservation areas within the Lake Simcoe watershed. By picnicking, hiking, fishing and cross country skiing in these areas you can experience-first hand-the benefits of a healthy environment. Year round hiking opportunities exist in the following conservation areas: Scalon Creek, Thornton Bales, Sheppard's Bush, Rogers Reservoir, Beaver River Wetlands.
This valley has the largest constructed wetland in Ontario, thousands of new trees and shrubs, and wildlife that includes birds, beavers, coyotes, foxes, birds, snakes, turtles and frogs. 6 km long gravel trail for walking, hiking or biking. Access Points(s): Main intersections are Steeles Avenue and Dufferin Street, Langstaff Road and Keele Street. Total Approximate Distance: 6 kilometres Parking: Dufferin Clark Community Centre (Clark Avenue and Dufferin Street); Langstaff Road at Planchet Road
Milne Dam Conservation Park (Markham)
Picnic permits: 477-7000 ext. 750
On the East side of McCowan Road, just South of Highway # 7
This 123-hectare (305-acre) park is Markham's largest park. There is thick forest on the southern and eastern edges, and the Rouge River passes through the middle. The park is a migratory bird stop off (best viewing early morning, late in day). Off-leash dog area only at the NW corner of Miller Avenue and Rodick Road. The 2.3 kilometres of trails are suitable for walking, jogging and cycling. Fishing is allowed with a MNR fishing permit (available at bait shops and Canadian Tire stores). Popular for large group picnics, with a modern picnic shelter for 100 people.
Open am until dusk from Victoria Day weekend until Thanksgiving. Admissio: free weekdays, weekends and statutory holidays $5 parking fee.
416 28-ROUGE (287-6843)
50 Bloomington Road West, 3rd Floor, Aurora, L4G 3G8
This large natural environment park, situated in an urban-rural setting, is 11,600 acres (47 sq km) in size. The Rouge Park provides low-impact recreational trails, and the City of Toronto's only campground, rare plants, and visible geological formations within the Rouge watershed. There are two National Historic Sites of aboriginal origin within the Park, and some families of early European settlers still farm lands in Rouge Park today.
The park's landscapes run from the rolling hills of the post-glacial Oak Ridges Moraine 50 km north of Toronto, to the vast wetlands and sandy beach where the Rouge River empties into Lake Ontario. The Park also includes the Petticoat Creek, Duffins Creek and Rouge River watersheds to form a major urban greenbelt. In one park, see forests, meadows, ponds and Toronto's biggest wetlands at the Lakeshore. The beauty of the Rouge River inspired Frederick Horsman Varley of Canada's famed Group of Seven painters.
Sibbald Point Provincial Park
905-722-7587 or 905-722-5416
26071 York Rd., Sutton West, ON, L0E 1R0
Situated on a 19th century lakeside estate, the 1835 Eildon Hall built by Susan Sibbald, bringing Old World luxury to the Canadian wilderness. Tour the family manor and visit St. George's Church, the family church, near the shore. Enjoy the sandy beaches, boat launch and docks, grassy picnic areas, forested hiking trails and activities for children. The park store is open from May until September. The park has 604 campsites with fireplaces & picnic tables, and 284 have electrical outlets.
Toogood Pond (Unionville)
behind Unionville Public School, between Carlton and Kennedy
This 33.3 hectare (82.3 acre) park features a partially naturalized pond and marsh, with a walkway around. The pond was recently restored, including plantings of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers and adding cascading pools to accommodate fish migration.
York Regional Forest
Owned by the Regional Municipality of York since 1924, but managed by the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources, showcases a successful restorations of a degraded landscape.