Chasing waterfalls - kid friendly Toronto edition
August 8, 2014 10:48 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a recommendation for a park or conservation area within an hour drive of Toronto. Travelling with kids who love swimming, and exploring waterfalls, but aren’t up to long or rugged hikes. Hoping to encounter waterfalls, ideally combined with the swimming area. Requirements – kid friendly swimming, some kind of washroom available, parking / drive in location. Does this place exist?
posted by walkinginsunshine to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have any specific suggestions but I wonder if the escarpment might be your best bet for further research. You could also look into finding a "day trip hikes near Toronto" type book from the library or even an ontario tourism information kiosk.
posted by Poldo at 11:34 AM on August 8, 2014

Hamilton! City of Waterfalls

fuck it, they're the waterfall capital of the world!

Hey if I had 100 waterfalls in my jurisdiction, I would brag too.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:38 AM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Agreed about Hamilton, and try Confederation Park. I haven't been but I've heard great things.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:43 AM on August 8, 2014

I don't know of any areas around Hamilton where you can swim in/near the waterfalls, so you'd have to break things up into two parts of the day perhaps.

Confederation Park, mentioned above, is a pretty big, open space. There's a wave pool there, batting cages, and some picnic areas, and plenty of flat walking trail/space. We used to hold our family picnic there each year so the adults could sit in the shade of the trees and the kids could go wear themselves out - and because it was a short drive from all of our homes. Each 'fun' thing costs additional money and is owned by different companies (so it's not a 'pay one fee' sort of place).

I am a big fan of Christie Lake because I grew up near there - it's got a concession stand and washroom and pretty much nothing else commercial other than boat rentals. No waterfalls, but lovely walking trails (nothing too rigorous). Valens Lake is another huge favourite - it is flat-out gorgeous. So many interesting places to wander and the boardwalk through all the marshes is amazing. Both Christie and Valens have swimming areas, unchlorinated, and it's worth checking to make sure they're open before you venture over.

For waterfalls, the general favourite is Webster's Falls - gorgeous, but a lot of hiking required. Fairly rugged and often REALLY crowded during nice weather. Parking is ridiculous. If you ever want to explore with just adults, though, it's awesome. Otherwise, check St. Peepsburg's links for some basic info about the falls in the area and see if one might work for you. They're ranked from easy access to difficult and will tell you how far from the parking lot you'll need to hike.

(I have such a fondness for Hamilton. It's the weirdest mix of industrial awfulness and exceptional beauty.)
posted by VioletU at 12:16 PM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Elora Gorge (near Guelph) is a very nice park which I'm sure has some quieter stretches for swimming. The nearby quarry is definitely swimmable but may be crowded.
posted by Flashman at 1:17 PM on August 8, 2014

I just got back today from Rockwood - lots of swimming and easy hikes (and the fries were delicious!) with small waterfalls. I was there during the week and it was quiet, not sure how it would be on a weekend. I would guess it is just over the hour mark to get there (plus there is a cool Ostrich Farm nearby too)

Hilton Falls has a beautiful waterfall with Mill Ruins, easy hikes, but not a regulated swimming area - although my kids have swum there in the creek. It is between Milton and Halton Hills, so under an hour by car.

Belfountain has a great waterfall with a bridge over it and a little more rugged hikes (still doable, just not as stroller friendly as Hilton Falls). I don't remember swimming there though. It is an hour from Toronto including an amazing drive through the Forks of the Credit.

Those are three different conservation organisations, you might want to poke around on each of their websites to see if anything else looks promising. All three sites have easy parking, paved roads to get there and bathroom access.
posted by saucysault at 1:45 PM on August 8, 2014

« Older How do I get better at improvising at acting...   |   What are some good ways to learn languages at home... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.