Distance hiked: 6km
Location: Lynde Shores Conservation Area, Ontario
Date: October 3, 2020
Lynde Shores Conservation Area is located along the shores of Lake Ontario near Whitby. It is in an environmentally sensitive wetland and a popular spot for birdwatching. It also offers three viewing platforms of the marshes and over 7km of hiking trails.
This fall has been particularly wet and cold, but the fall foliage has been outstanding. The forecast for today looked promising, so we decided to go for a hike at the Lynde Shores Conservation Area, which is about a 30 minute drive from Toronto.
We arrived at the conservation area just after 9:30a.m and the parking lot was already over half full. We might as well get to it. We briefly hiked along the Waterfront Trail to get to the trailhead for LaVay’s Lane Trail (1.8km). The path leads through the forest to a large open meadow, showcasing all the beautiful fall colours in the area.
Mid-way through the trail, the path reaches a junction at a private road. From here we took a short detour to hike along the Lake Ontario Trail (600m), which leads down to the water.
We hiked back the way we came toward LaVay’s Lane Trail and stopped at the lookout for Cranberry Marsh. Back in the late 1990s, Cranberry Marsh was in very poor health. To bring the marsh back into a healthy state, the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority started de-watering the marsh and regulating the water levels. This allowed the vegetation to rejuvenate, which provided a better aquatic habitat that could sustain more plants and wildlife.
From the lookout, we hiked back to LaVay’s Lane Trail. The path weaves through the open meadow and eventually loops back to the Waterfront Trail.
On the way back to the parking lot, we turned off to hike along the Chickadee Trail (500m). While we didn’t see many chickadees on this trail, we did see a large amount of ducks and geese. The part of the path along the water is an extremely popular area to feed the ducks. And from the looks of them, they are very well fed.
From here, it’s a short walk back to the main parking lot. We hopped in the car and drove to the south western part of the conservation area to check out the remaining lookouts and hiking trail.
We parked at the first side parking lot and checked out the two other lookouts of Cranberry Marsh. It’s a short walk to the viewing platforms, which are extremely popular places for birdwatching. We saw a number of people with fancy cameras and binoculars. One of the birdwatchers kindly gave us some bird seed to attract the chickadees. Suddenly I had a lot of friends.
The second viewing platform is a raptor viewing facility. In 1993, the Greater Toronto Raptor Watch was organized to count the number of raptors (which are birds of prey and should not be confused with velociraptors, which is immediately what came to my mind) during the fall migration from August to December. This provided an opportunity to standardize monitoring procedures and exchange annual data collected at Cranberry Marsh and High Park in Toronto.
We continued walking south towards Lake Ontario to the trailhead for the Bobolink Trail (600m). The first stretch follows along a paved path on the Waterfront Trail before meeting up with the Bobolink Trail, which then connects with the Waterfront Trail again to form a loop. The path meanders through an open meadow. It was particularly scenic in the fall with all the fall flowers and colours.
Once we looped back to the trailhead, we walked back to our car and headed home. Overall it took us just under two hours to explore the Lynde Shores Conservation Area.
My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here