Toronto is surrounded by conservation areas, provincially regulated green spaces designed to protect watersheds and the natural environment in general. There are 36 conservation authorities that manage more more than 290 of these parks in Ontario, which provide a convenient escape from urban living for day-trippers. The range of activities on offer at conservation areas is broad, from your basic picnicking to advanced mountain biking, maple syrup tours, and camping. They're generally cheap to access (under $10 per person), and even those close to Toronto boast serene landscapes and bucolic surroundings.
Here are my picks for the top 5 conservation areas around Toronto.
Rattlesnake Point Located southwest of Milton on the Niagara Peninsula, Rattlesnake Point offers sweeping views of the bucolic landscape below the gorge heading down to Lake Ontario. Trails line the top of the escarpment, which regularly open to sweeping vistas of farmland and the azure lake. Cyclists will want to test their mettle of the climb up Appleby Road leading into the park. It's one of the toughest in Ontario.
Kelso Kelso is a mountain bikers dream, with 22km of at times highly technical trails that meander along the Niagara Escarpment. But it's also so much more, with skiing and snowboarding in the winter (there are 15 slopes), a campground, a supervised beach in the summer, and a sprawling 396 hectares of total space.
Elora Gorge The jewel in the crown of the Grand River Valley, Elora Gorge promises hiking trails with stunning views, decent fishing opportunities, and some of the best tubing in the province. The latter is a favourite past time in the area and easier than you might think: simply plop your tube in up river and float away your cares.
Kortright This is maple syrup country in the winter, with guided tours and heaping pancake-heavy breakfasts. It's also a place that's devoted to renewable energy education, featuring two LEED Platinum certified buildings and what they call the Power Trip Trail, which highlights a variety of technologies related to sustainable energy production.
Belfountain Located beside the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, Belfountain might be the prettiest conservation area near Toronto. The river and its many small waterfalls is much nicer than the streams we tend to find at the bottom of our ravines, and the woods are absolutely spectacular with saturated colour come mid-October. Hit the swing bridge over the river for a great view and a bit of adventure. There's also numerous trails and picnic facilities.
New OTA Internet video helps teach road users about truck/cycling safety & awareness
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 10, 2014) - Whether you're a driver, a pedestrian or a cyclist - and most of us in Ontario are a combination of all of these - safety and respect for one another on the road is something we should all be aware of.
To mark the approaching end of cycling season this long weekend (no doubt many of us will want to turn those bike peddles and work off that Thanksgiving turkey), the Ontario Trucking Association has produced a smart and fun new internet video to educate truckers and cyclists about looking out for each other and help them share the road more safely.
The witty video - titled Trucks 'n Bikes: Sharing the Road - is a great visual resource for road users, students, teachers, governments, safety and public service groups, community centres - as well as car, bike and truck clubs and associations - and anyone else who wants to learn about truck/bike safety and raise awareness.
It features Thomson Terminals driver and charismatic OTA Road Knight Mike Paolozzi, paired with his avid-cyclist alter ego. Together, they provide visually animated pointers on traffic awareness, intersection positioning, blind spots and collision avoidance, such as: 'The Blind Date', 'The Right Cross', and of course, 'The Rear-End.'
"Undoubtedly, there are concerns about traffic and space voiced by each and every road user and pedestrian - especially in big cities like Toronto. The fact is that most of us drive as well as ride bikes and we should be looking out for each other," says OTA President David Bradley. "We think this video will help cyclists better understand trucks and how to behave around them while also reminding professional drivers to be vigilant around the most vulnerable road users."
Added Steven Del Duca, Ontario Minister of Transportation: "The Ontario Government remains committed to keeping our roads the safest in North America for all users of the road. It is a team effort and I commend the Ontario Trucking Association for their leadership on this safe driving and cycling video."