The leaves are falling, and what was once hidden is now majestically on display.
Don’t count out the month of November as a blasé time to be outdoors; try exploring areas such as the Niagara Escarpment for something to behold.
Here in Ontario, the Niagara Escarpment runs from Niagara Falls along Lake Ontario through the Niagara Peninsula, then takes a sharp left turn at the town of Milton before continuing toward Georgian Bay.
This strip’s natural and ecological elements are so special that it was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1990!
The forests, wetlands, cliffs and meadows of the Escarpment support over 300 species of bird, 52 mammals, 100 types of fish and 30 reptiles & amphibians. Holy biodiversity, Batman!
Two parks fall right along this line: Forks of the Credit and Mono Cliffs Provincial Parks. Both are a great place to see the Escarpment up close.
Both day-use parks have parking and washrooms. You can purchase a day-use pass (covering everyone in your vehicle) at the self-serve fee station machines. Forks of the Credit has approximately 10 km of hiking trails of various levels of difficulty and Mono Cliffs has approximately 19 km.
Over 11,000 years ago, after the last glacier retreated northward, the sedimentary rock layers in this area eroded, creating the escarpments with the softer layers undermining the harder layers above (dolomite and limestone).
In addition to the rock, sand and gravel that the glaciers dumped in the area, large chunks of ice also created the nearby kettle lake (McCarston’s Lake), which has no inlet or outlet.
Don’t just look up when hiking across the Escarpment. Have a look down and keep an eye out for the 44 different species of ferns that are still visible in the autumn. Mono Cliffs is one of the few places you will spot a Hart’s-tongue Fern as they are a rare occurrence in North America (and listed as an Ontario “Special Concern”).
Forks of the Credit and Mono Cliffs are open all year round. They are great assets in protecting the significant geological and biological resources of the park, while still offering visitors the chance to explore.
Pro-tip: head to both of these parks to enjoy the “shoulder season,” when there are no insects, no crowds, and no leaves blocking your view.
And as you plan your winter adventures, remember that these parks are also great spots for cross-country skiing and snowshoe in the winter.