Once upon a lockdown, we went for a hike.
Our winter destination was Crawford Lake, a beautiful area part of Conservation Halton less than an hour’s drive west of Toronto. This year-round park was spectacular in the snow with lots of outdoor space to explore and keep your distance.
The area is rich in nature and history, making it a super spot for outdoor learning. I’m a plaque reader – it drives my family crazy – but you’ll learn so much about Ontario’s species at Risk and the Indigenous history of the site. It’s really a great fresh-air supplement for those of us with little virtual learners in TOw.
The main trail is the 1km loop around Crawford Lake, a meromictic lake. (What’s that? The lake is deeper than its surface area, meaning the bottom of the lake is rarely disturbed, which uncovered an incredible amount of history for researchers and scientists – and you’ll learn about this along the trail). The trail around the lake itself is a boardwalk so good for all ages.
(PS: If you’re doing a summer visit, keep in mind this is a no swimming lake.)
A highlight, and a bit of a motivator for kids who may not be so keen on making the trek, is the Hike and Seek Trail located along the blue Crawford Lake Trail towards the lake. This series of large wooden carvings explore Ontario’s Species at Risk, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds, insects and plants. They are really well done and look beautiful against the snow.
Before or after your hike, be sure to explore the Longhouse Village, a reconstructed 15th century Iroquoian village. Archaeological work during the 70s and 80s uncovered 11 longhouses on the site and over 10 000 artefacts from day-to-day lives of the Iroquoian people who once lived there. Three there are three longhouses based on these findings and in non-lockdown days you can experience this history through interpretive programs and demos, and season exhibits featuring contemporary Indigenous art and culture.
GETTING THERE: Crawford Lake operated by Conservation Halton is near Milton, around 70km west of Toronto. Currently two-hour reservations are required – reserve in advance here. Admission at the time of writing this is $6.50 for adults; $5 for kids and seniors and kids 5 and under are free.
WHAT TO DO: Short and long day hikes all seasons and Longhouse Village. In winter you can cross-country skis on the Pine Ridge Trail or do a daytime or moonlight snowshoe hike.
POTTY TIME: There is a visitor centre and bathrooms were open when we were there.
SNACK TIME: Bring your own food; leave no waste.
IN THE HOOD: We’ve put the Nassagaweya Cayon Trail on our post-lockdown to-do list. This trail, connecting Crawford Lake and Rattlesnake Point makes for a 4-5-hour roundtrip hike, which is just not do-able in the current two-hour reservation limit.