It’s International Day of Forests!
Ontario Parks protects a collection of breathtakingly beautiful forests from across the province. Each will be brimming with signs of life as the snow melts and temperatures warm.
Let’s take a look at five unique forests you can visit this spring.
1. Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest at Arrowhead Provincial Park
Open all year
Arrowhead is located just north of Huntsville, and is situated in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest region.
The main tree species you’ll find in this forest are:
- Sugar Maple
- Yellow Birch
- American Beech
- White Pine
- Eastern Hemlock
- Balsam Fir
- White Spruce
From mid-to-late May, the forest floor is beautifully blanketed with White Trilliums.
Visit Arrowhead from mid-to-late May to view blankets of trilliums along Stubb’s Falls Trail.
Take this 2 km loop to Stubb’s Falls, and stop to take in the incredible views of trilliums and the sounds of songbirds.
Watch the forest spring to life from Big Bend Lookout, where you’ll be treated to a view of the surrounding forest and landscape, including the gorgeous Big East River Delta.
Big Bend Lookout is a short walk from the parking lot on Roe Campground Road.
2. Carolinian forest at Rondeau Provincial Park
Open all year
Rondeau is located in southwestern Ontario on Lake Erie, and is known for protecting old growth Carolinian forest.
Located at the southern tip of Ontario, this forest ecosystem experiences warmer year-round temperatures, supporting a high level of biodiversity.
Nearly a quarter of Canada’s human population lives in the Carolinian zone, encompassing the area from Windsor, north to Pinery Provincial Park, and east to Toronto.
Most habitat in this zone has been lost to agriculture and other development, which means Rondeau’s forests are especially precious!
Take Rondeau’s Tulip Tree Trail to wander through the Carolinian forest.
This 1.2 km barrier-free loop features a boardwalk and the chance to view many Carolinian tree species such as tulip tree, Sassafras, and Shagbark Hickory.
These species are rare in Ontario due to the limited range of Carolinian forest, and due to habitat loss. Keep your eyes peeled for the large beautiful yellow-green flowers on tulip trees from late May to early June!
View wildflowers and migrating birds while exploring this forest.
3. Red and White Pine forest at Caliper Lake Provincial Park
Open May 20, 2022
Nestled within a mature pine forest, Caliper Lake is in northwestern Ontario, between Fort Frances and Kenora.
Located within a transition zone between the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence and boreal forests, Caliper Lake’s towering stands of Red Pine and White Pine are estimated to have originated over 180 years ago.
Camp under the tall pines and starry skies during your visit.
Explore the transitional forest species that can be found in both Great Lakes-St. Lawrence and boreal forests.
4. Deciduous mixed forest at Pancake Bay Provincial Park
Open May 6, 2022
Pancake Bay is located on the eastern shore of Lake Superior, north of Sault Ste. Marie.
The park lies within the northern part of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest region.
The lush forests of Pancake Bay are mainly dominated by Sugar Maple and Yellow Birch.
Take the park’s Lookout Trail for the best views of the surrounding forest and Pancake Bay!
The Lookout Trail is a moderate 7 km hike to the lookout and back, with two excellent viewing platforms along the way.
During early-to-mid May, view the forest below, and observe the pinkish-red tones of Sugar Maple flowers in bloom.
5. Frontenac Axis at Frontenac Provincial Park
Open all year
Frontenac is located in southeastern Ontario north of Kingston.
This park is within the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest region, situated within the Frontenac Axis.
The Frontenac Axis is a southwestern projection of the Canadian Shield that connects the northern shield environment of Algonquin Provincial Park to the southern deciduous forests of the Adirondack Mountains.
The Frontenac Axis geology creates a unique region for a diverse range of habitats, plants, and animals. The frequent forests, rock barrens, and waterbodies of Frontenac form an awe-inspiring landscape.
Frontenac offers over 100 km of hiking and backpacking trails in interconnected loops. Choose from a variety of trails to explore the diverse and spectacular ecosystems of Frontenac.
The 3 km Doe Lake Loop Trail is a great introduction to the park. The trail starts at the park office and passes through forests, wetlands, and lakes.
Be sure to take in the stunning views at the lookout over Doe Lake.
Stop! Don’t forget these forest tips
Here’s a few things to keep in mind while visiting any forest:
- plan ahead and come prepared
- pack out what you pack in, please don’t litter
- take only photos and memories, leave only footprints
- stay on the trails
- keep your dogs on leash, and clean up after them
- brush your shoes and hiking boots before and after hiking to prevent the spread of invasive species