rocky creek in forest

What to know before visiting Pretty River Valley Provincial Park

Pretty River Valley Provincial Park is nestled into the Niagara Escarpment, and is an important part of a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The park is home to a multitude of species, ecosystems, and sensitive habitats, all of which Ontario Parks is trying to protect.

Your actions as a visitor can help us keep this unique park a haven for the many organisms that call it home, as well as a beautiful place for generations of park users to visit.

The most important thing to realize before your visit is that Pretty River Valley Provincial Park is a non-operating provincial park.

What does this mean? Well, quite simply, there are no staff or facilities located within the park. That also means no washrooms.

Visitors use this park at their own risk. For more information about the park, please call Wasaga Beach Provincial Park’s office at 705-429-2516.

Now, here are our tips on how to have a successful visit to Pretty River Valley Provincial Park:

1. When is the best/worst time to visit?

Pretty River Valley is busiest on weekends.

Weekdays are the best time to visit, however on nice days, parking can fill up quickly as well, so please plan accordingly. If you MUST visit us on a weekend, plan to arrive early.

cars parked on roadside

If the park is full when you arrive (no parking is available), please delay your visit for another time.

We’re counting on people to be responsible when enjoying our parks, and continue to follow all of the public health advice, including physical distancing, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge, and washing hands frequently and thoroughly.

Please do not travel outside of your area to visit.

2. How do I get to the park?

Pretty River Valley Provincial Park is located southwest of Collingwood.

There are multiple access points to the park’s trail systems:

  • mountain biking – 6th Sideroad / 2nd Line
  • hiking – Pretty River Road

Limited parking is available, particularly during the snowy season.

3. Where can I park?

Park in a designated parking spot and obey all signage. This is especially critical for winter visits.

It is important to ensure that adjacent roadways are kept open for emergency vehicles and snow removal. Otherwise, cars may be towed and/or ticketed.

cars parked along road

Environmental impacts to this special place rise exponentially when it is overcrowded, so keep a simple rule in mind: if there is no space for you to park, there is no space for you on the trail.

4. What do I do when the parking is full?

There are other non-operating provincial parks nearby:

Keep in mind, however, that if Pretty River Valley is full, these parks are likely full too.

These parks are also non-operating parks, and therefore operate under the same rules and regulations as Pretty River Valley. Please park responsibly, ensuring  roadways are kept open for emergency vehicles and snow removal.

We’re counting on everyone to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 by following the advice of public health officials. Please only visit provincial parks or conservation reserves close to home for day-use; do not travel outside of your area.

5. Does Pretty River Valley allow camping?

No. Camping, including backcountry camping, is not permitted at Pretty River Valley Provincial Park or any other non-operating provincial park in the area.

If planning a trip during camping season, the closest provincial park campgrounds are:

Reminder: In order to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and support Ontario’s Declaration of Emergency and Stay-at-Home order, Ontario Parks has temporarily closed campsites and roofed accommodations

6. Is hunting allowed in the park?

Yes. If visiting the park during any open hunting season, please exercise caution, particularly during the late fall / early winter deer season, and — for your safety — wearing “hunter”-orange-coloured clothing is highly recommended.

For more information on hunting seasons at Pretty River Valley, please review the Ontario Hunting Regulations or call Wasaga Beach Provincial Park’s office at 705-429-2516.

7. Can you recommend a hiking spot other than Pretty River Valley?

In order to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and support Ontario’s Declaration of Emergency and Stay-at-Home order, we’re asking you to only visit provincial parks or conservation reserves close to home for day-use; do not travel outside of your area. If you’re planning a future trip:

Bronte Creek Provincial Park in Oakville has five great hiking trails.  The 50 m deep Bronte Creek ravine is a photogenic feature.

Darlington Provincial Park in Bowmanville has four hiking trails and is also located along the 350 km Waterfront Trail that follows the shore of Lake Ontario from Niagara-on-the-lake to Trenton.

trail
Darlington Provincial Park

Earl Rowe Provincial Park offers six hiking trails, including the Lookout Trail that leads to a lookout platform with a view of the park and surrounding area.

If you’re willing to venture farther from the GTA, MacGregor Point Provincial Park boasts a collection of cycling and hiking trails, with several routes along the breathtaking Lake Huron shoreline. The sunsets here are not to be missed!

8. Can I drive my ATV and/or snowmobile in the park?

ATVs are NOT permitted anywhere in Pretty River Valley Provincial Park.

Snowmobiles are permitted on Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) trails ONLY. For information on snowmobile trail locations and conditions, please visit the OFSC’s Interactive Trail Map.

For more information on rules and regulations within the provincial park, please contact the Park Office at 705-429-2516.

9. Where can I mountain bike in the park?

Mountain biking is permitted in the northern section of Pretty River Valley Provincial Park.

Guy on a bike, riding through the forest

Riders will find Pretty River Valley home to a network of 40+ km advanced single-track. Here’s what you should know:

  • these trails are NOT suitable for beginners
  • follow the trail and do not cut corners
  • if you are unable to ride a section of trail, walk your bike; do not create a ride around
  • keep single-track single

Please remember to be mindful of other trail users as Pretty River Valley hosts multiple trail networks for both hikers and bikers alike.

For more information on mountain bike trails, please use Trail Forks.

10. What should / shouldn’t I pack?

If visiting in the summer

Please plan to bring sunscreen, hat, water, snacks, and a good pair of hiking shoes.

Ticks are also common throughout much of Ontario, including Pretty River Valley. For tips on protecting yourself, review our blog on tick safety.

If visiting in the winter*

Dress in warm clothing (layers are optimal), including wool socks and a good pair of winter boots. Pack a change of socks in case your feet get wet, a warm drink, water, and snacks.

Couple snowshoeing along trail

Be aware of your body’s limits and plan your route so that you do not stray too far from your vehicle. It is also important to be familiar with the park before you arrive and ensure that you have a good map of the area.

*please exercise caution during the late fall / early winter deer hunting season; for your safety, wearing “hunter”-orange-coloured clothing is highly recommended during this time.

What you should leave at home:

Please do not bring alcohol or firewood. Reminder that fires are not permitted in the park at any time, and violators will be fined.

Also, try to limit the amount of food packaging and other disposable items you bring with you. Litter and waste disposal in non-designated areas is unacceptable, and fines are in place.

pop can stuck in a tree
Come on, folks — we can do better than this…

Remember: we all share responsibility and stewardship of our protected spaces. If you pack it in, pack it out.

11. How can I help protect and preserve the park for future users?

creek in forestYou can help preserve our park for future generations by obeying park signs and regulations.

Use established pathways and stay on the trail. Walking off trail damages habitats and puts species at risk.

Removing plants or natural objects from provincial parks is also prohibited. Please refrain from picking flowers, harvesting mushrooms, or any other action that removes a natural object from the park.

Take your garbage home with you!

coffee cup in a trail sign on a hiking trail
This is not a garbage can! Please dispose of all trash responsibly. If you pack it in, pack it out!

Nothing ruins a visit to a beautiful natural area more than coming across someone else’s discarded coffee cup.

If you bring it in, take it out.

We all need to work together to protect Ontario’s natural world — thank you, fellow ecostewards!