Being in Southern Ontario, it’s easy to take a break from skyscrapers and appreciate Ontario’s natural beauty every so often. The GTA is full of natural surprises, whether it be tucked away conservation areas or tourist attractions like the Scarborough Bluffs and Niagara Falls. For those looking to explore Ontario’s landscape in and around the city, here is a list of must-see natural wonders in Southern Ontario.
Devil’s Punchbowl | Stoney Creek
We are lucky to live so close to the Niagara Escarpment, and Devil’s Punch Bowl is just one of the many gorgeous waterfalls that decorate Ontario’s landscape. Located in Hamilton’s Stoney Creek, Devil’s Punch Bowl Falls is a 37-metre ribbon waterfall that is part of the Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area. In smooth traffic, this must-see waterfall is just under an hour drive from Toronto.
Webster’s Falls | Hamilton
Another one of Hamilton’s gems, Webster’s Falls boasts a 22-metre high curtain waterfall that plunges into a panoramic view. In the Fall season, this waterfall is particularly beautiful, making it the perfect place for capturing Instagrammable moments.
Forks of the Credit Provincial Park | Caledon
Located in Caledon, the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park is loaded with natural wonders. From the Credit River and Cataract Falls to the view of the changing leaves in the Fall, any nature lover in the GTA would swoon for this place. The drive down Forks of the Credit Road is famous for its twists and turns and breathtaking scenery, while the park itself also carries a number of hiking trails, fishing locations and great snowshoeing paths in the winter.
Scenic Caves | Blue Mountain
Blue Mountain’s Scenic Caves were carved into the Earth millions of years ago by glacial ice. With self-guided walking tours and a number of lookout points, including a 420 ft. suspension bridge, these caves are a natural wonder that draws thousands of people to Blue Mountain every year. Although it’s a bit of a trek from Toronto, the sights alone are worth it.
Rattray Marsh Conservation Area | Mississauga
Not many people know about Rattray Marsh, which is a wetland located in Clarkson that features natural marsh that was originally protected in the 1970s. There are no vehicles allowed in this conservation area, however, there are plenty of hiking and cycling trails that are great for exploring the peaceful scenery. Bird watching has also become a popular activity in this park. For those coming from Toronto, Rattray Marsh is only about a 15-minute bike ride from the Clarkson GO Station.
Rouge Valley | Scarborough
Located in Scarborough, Rouge Park is home to 1700 species of plants, birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, insects and amphibians. Outcrops of rock carved during the glacial period can be seen in Rouge Park, and are also used by geologists to measure earthquake activity in the GTA. The Rouge River also runs from the Oak Ridges Moraine, which is a unique feature to the park as the moraine is one of Southern Ontario’s most relevant geological landforms. Rouge Park is also currently becoming Canada’s first national urban park managed by Parks Canada, and will protect large tracts of the rarest and most endangered farmland in the country.
Claireville Conservation Area | Brampton
The Claireville Conservation Area is home to a number of natural wonders, including ravines, creeks, flat plains and rolling hills. The park is home to numerous wildlife, including deer, muskrat, garter snakes, dozens of bird and fish species, eastern coyotes, and rare white deer. Many birds pass through this park in the midst of their migratory route, making it a great location for bird watching.
Puslinch Tract | Wellington County
The Puslinch Tract, or Twin Ponds, draws hundreds of mountain bikers every year to explore this park’s unique trails and views. Located in Wellington County, this park features large, beautiful trees that are over 50 years old, a variety of wildlife, and peaceful ponds. This location is about an hour drive from Toronto.
Image of Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, courtesy Michael Gil via Flickr