Where to Experience Durham's Natural Resources
In Durham we are lucky to have many parks, big and small, and many fine waterways that offer opportunities to see birds, animals and fish firsthand. We also have many trails that offer free access to natural areas. The following is a list of many of the places in Durham where you can see what nature has to offer.
Durham Region is fortunate to have one of Ontario's many beautiful Provincial Parks within its borders. Just east of Oshawa on the shore of Lake Ontario is Darlington Provincial Park which offers camping, picnicking, trails, fishing, bird watching and many other outdoor activities. There is a cost per vehicle for entry and a fee for camping. Reservations are needed for camping during busy seasons.
Most municipalities in Durham offer many neighbourhood parks as well as walking and bicycling trails. Learn more about local parks in your neighbourhood by visiting the parks and recreation section of municipal web sites.
Trails in Durham
One of the best ways to experience the natural resources of Durham Region is to walk, bike or hike the many trails in the area. The TransCanada Trail passes through parts of Durham and the Waterfront Trail follows the shore of Lake Ontario. Information and maps on trails and conservation areas in Durham Region can be downloaded from the Outdoors section of the Durham Tourism site.
Durham Region is also part of the Waterfront or Lakeshore Trail Association with a series of interconnecting walking and bicycling trails along the north shore of Lake Ontario. Learn more at the Waterfront Trail website.
The Central Ontario Conservation Authority maintains many local conservation areas that offer a wide variety of natural areas that feature woodlands, marshes, grasslands, trails, picnic areas and recreation such as bird watching, hiking, and skating and tobogganing in the winter. Most are free or have a low daily fee.
Greenwood Conservation Area
Greenwood Conservation Area offers residents and visitors alike a chance to escape to nature along the banks of Duffins Creek. Hiking trails allow you to explore the forest or the steep-sided river valley, and picnic tables are available throughout the area for your use. The park offers some of the best fishing, with the opening of the trout season in the spring. The cold, clear-running creek is a perfect home for rainbow trout and other species of fish.
Heber Down Conservation Area
The Heber Down Conservation Area offers a variety of activities. Group camping, fishing, nature walks and picnicking are all popular activities that can be carried out just a short distance from home. The natural valley of the Lynde Creek bisects a portion of this Conservation Area and provides many scenic vistas for those enjoying some of the 5 km. of trail that runs through this property. Springs and seeps within the provincially significant Heber Down Wetland complex provide important groundwater recharge to this branch of the Lynde Creek Watershed. Heber Down Conservation Area is host to the annual Kids Fishing Day held in early May for the public to enjoy.
Lynde Shores Conservation Area
Lynde Shores Conservation Area is a 348-hectare (860 acre) property located along the north shore of Lake Ontario in the Town of Whitby, at the bottom of the Lynde Creek watershed. The Lynde Creek Conservation Area includes Lynde Creek Marsh and the neighbouring Cranberry Marsh, as well as adjacent upland to make up one of the largest contiguous areas of the natural waterfront within the Greater Toronto Area . The Conservation Area is owned by Central Lake Ontario Conservation and is accessed from either Victoria Street or Halls Road. Paid parking is available.
McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve
In 1990, General Motors of Canada Limited celebrated the construction of their new "green" Canadian Corporate Headquarters as well as the creation of theMcLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve. Named after the automakers' founder, Col. Sam McLaughlin, the Reserve has become a popular attraction for lovers of nature and peaceful surroundings.
The Reserve is situated on the north shore of Lake Ontario in south-east Oshawa, Ontario. It is readily visible from Highway 401 (Toronto to Montreal), and is located between the Second Marsh Wildlife Area (a Provincially Significant Wetland) on the west and Darlington Provincial Park (a heavily forested zone) on the east.
The Reserve occupies in excess of 41 ha (108 acres) of land owned and operated by General Motors of Canada Limited. An additional 40 ha of the same tract has been set aside for the office complex, parking and services, along with adequate buffer zones.
Home to almost 400 different varieties of plants, trees, shrubs and wildflowers, as well as a great number of native birds, mammals and fish, the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve features a number of walking trails, viewing platforms for photographers and birdwatchers as well as the Dogwood Trail, for use by partially-sighted or visually-impaired visitors. It is open to the public seven days a week, year-round, free of charge, and is wheel-chair accessible.
Oshawa Second Marsh
The Oshawa Second Marsh is a wildlife habitat in a protected area. Access is not allowed to the marsh itself, however several recreational trails and wetlands border on the marsh. It is just west of Darlington Provincial Park and is at the end of Colonel Sam Drive in Oshawa, behind the General Motors of Canada Headquarters. It also borders on the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve that offers walking trails and picnic areas.
Beaverton Accessible Paddle Craft Launch
Water is very therapeutic and calming. Kayaking and canoeing allow a person to silently slip through the water, enjoying the surroundings in an environmentally friendly manner while improving their physical and mental wellbeing. However, for someone with a physical disability, it can be nearly impossible to access this activity.
On June 25, 2016, the Brock Accessible Launch Dock was officially opened to the public. It provides a means for people of all mobility levels to enjoy the waterfront together and is the first public accessible kayak dock of its kind on Lake Simcoe and in all of Durham Region. The dock is located at Beaverton Harbour in north Brock Township, in the east shore of Lake Simcoe. This special launch dock allows people with special needs to easily and safely access their paddle craft, without needing to have someone there to help them enter and exit their canoe or kayak. It includes a transfer bench that allows anyone who uses a wheelchair to get in and out of their craft without assistance.
Clarington's Accessible Trail and Fishing Location
Do you love to fish? Would you like to try fishing, but worry about accessibility?
Fishing is an age-old pastime, enjoyed by young and old alike, but sometimes, it is difficult to access good fishing spots due to mobility challenges. To address this, a new wheelchair accessible trail, the first of its kind in Durham Region, has been created at Bowmanville Creek. The trail, make of natural surface gravel, allows wheelchair-using adults and children a way to enjoy fishing.
The accessible fishing spot is located along the creek, south of the Goodyear Dam and north of Spry Avenue. The location was chosen using data from studies that showed where fish congregate and should make for some great fishing! The area is large enough to accommodate several wheelchair-using anglers and their friends.