April showers bring May flowers. Spring is a fantastic time for a walk in an Ontario park, especially before leaf-out.
Trilliums are a favourite with park walkers. The White trillium, Ontario’s official flower, carpets many parks’ forest floors from late April to mid June depending on where you are. The Rainbow Run Trail at Earl Rowe Provincial Park near Alliston is a good bet for trillium-viewing. Earl Rowe has a fish ladder too, which is worth seeing. Rainbow trout leap up it every spring on their way up the Boyne River to spawn. Trillium Woods Provincial Nature Reserve is near Woodstock in southwestern Ontario. An easy one kilometre trail winds through a Carolinian forest that is thick with trilliums every spring. The Trillium Trail at Bronte Creek Provincial Park in Oakville is another sure bet. Further east, Peter’s Woods, a provincial nature reserve on the Oak Ridges Moraine, 20 km northeast of Cobourg, is known for its trilliums. Closer to Campbellford, the Friends of Ferris Provincial Park plan a guided Trillium Walk in their park on May 1st. A neat suspension bridge crosses the Trent River here and is a good photo opportunity.
The Spicebush Trail is easily one of Rondeau Provincial Park’s favourite walking trails. Spring wildflowers along it include Trout lily, trilliums, Bloodroot, Mayapple, Hepatica and Dutchman breeches.
The Old Shore Trail runs the entire 7 kilometres length of MacGregor Point Provincial Park on Lake Huron, near Port Elgin. Multiple in-park access points along the trail take you past mixed forest, wetland and shoreline habitats rich with spring wildflowers, including Fringe polygala, Lady’s slippers and Cardinal flower. The annual Huron Fringe Birding Festival is always held in spring. This year’s dates are May 27-30 and June 2-5. Guided morning hikes in and outside the park will concentrate on birds, but also wildflowers, butterflies and insects. Afternoons sessions planned include photography and video. ‘Owl Prowls’ are popular in the evenings. Preregistration is required.
The best wildflower show in Lake Superior Provincial Park is along the trails through deciduous forests, before leaf out. Winter tends to linger in the north and the best timing can vary from early May to mid-June. Wild flowers here include Lady’s slippers, Bloodroot, Moccasin flower and Bunchberry. Look for them on the park’s Pinguisibi, Orphan Lake, Awausee and Peat Mountain Trails. The trails vary in length from six to eleven kilometres. Some have beautiful lookouts over Lake Superior.
Witness the spring runoff at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park as an assortment of Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Lowlands and Boreal Forest wildflowers spring to life along the Boardwalk Trail. Let your photography skills blossom at the same time by registering for the first in a series of Giant Digital Photography Workshops, featuring a special evening workshop at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park on May 26th. Click here for more information and online registration.
Enjoy the views, but please don’t pick wildflowers in Ontario Parks, they are protected! To maintain parks as natural settings, the removal of vegetation, wildlife and natural features is prohibited.
More spring activities at Ontario Parks are listed here.