Now that the weather’s looking like springtime again, there’s plenty to appreciate in the great (and warmer) outdoors. And you don’t need to go that far to enjoy fun for the whole family.
Fishing fans will be pleased to know there are good carp catches at Milne Dam Conservation Area, Markham’s largest park, at 123 hectares, with the Rouge River running through. Meanwhile, you can also enjoy the lush forest, nearly two and a half kilometers of trails for jogging or cycling and migratory bird watching. It’s located on the east side of McCowan Road, just south of Highway 7. Though there is no admission fee, parking is $5 on weekends and holidays.
Throughout the summer, the Rouge National Urban Park, a getaway not far from the city, can be a place to appreciate nature and be a hotspot for fun. The park straddles Toronto, Scarborough, Markham and Pickering.
On June 9, learn the ins and outs of hiking – the basics of safety, equipment, local animals – at a 10 a.m. meeting at the Glen Rouge campgrounds. Embark on a challenging trek, with an experienced guide, for a two-hour learning experience.
For those keen to learn about the diversity of plant life, at 10 a.m. on June 10, participants can take a two-hour guided tour, beginning at the Twyn Rivers.
Do you love butterflies? At 9:30 a.m. on June 13, a view of the colourful creatures of the Rouge National Urban Park is available during a five-kilometre family-friendly walk, starting at the Twyn Rivers.
From butterflies to birds and beasts, on June 20 discover the various living species in the Rouge River Valley. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at the lower parking lot of the Rouge Beach, for a five-kilometre family-friendly stroll.
You can also discover the plants and animals that live in the Beare Wetlands, a restored landfill site. A two-hour family friendly stroll starts at 9:30 a.m. June 27 at the Twyn Rivers.
For the active bunch, on June 18, Wildlands League hosts their fifth annual Paddle The Rouge event, which also celebrates their 50th anniversary as an environmental group. According to the organization, more than a fifth of Canadians live within an hour of the Rouge Valley – rich with a plethora of wildlife and natural scenery. All proceeds from event will go to conserve wilderness and preserve the Rouge. Log on to paddletherouge.com for information.
About an hour away are boat trips to Georgian Bay Islands National Park. While there, take in a picnic, rent a bike, grab a swim or a hike, or join a cruise to Beausoleil Island. Cruise reservations can be made with the Parks Canada Reservation Service: 1-877-737-3783.
At Cedar Spring, at the south end of Beausoleil Island, you’ll find mountain bike rentals, a welcome centre, picnic shelters, beaches and easy trails. The more rugged Chimney Bay at the north end of the island is primed for hiking or swimming and where you can also take in the wonderful Georgian Bay scenery, much of which inspired many of the Group of Seven paintings.
And finally, for a more hands-on family-friendly activity, take in the petting farm or pony and wagon rides at Lionel’s Farm, at 11714 McCowan Rd, Whitchurch-Stouffville.