Hike #46: Darlington Provincial Park

Distance hiked: 5km
Location: Darlington Provincial Park, Ontario
Date: October 18, 2020

Located along the sandy shores of Lake Ontario, Darlington Provincial Park boasts of providing a variety of recreational activities such as swimming, hiking, birdwatching, fishing and boating. It is also conveniently located right off Highway 401 and it is open all year-round.

We initially planned to go to the cabin this weekend, but I had to do some work on Saturday. Instead we stayed home and ate like monsters. So on Sunday we decided to get some fresh air, go for a hike and enjoy what remains of the fall colours. We decided to go to Darlington Provincial Park since it’s located close to Toronto.

We arrived at the park just after 10a.m. The visitor centre and park office were closed for the season, so we instead used the self-service machine located behind the Registration Office in the parking lot. From here we set off to hike along the Burk Trail (2.25km, rated moderate).

The path weaves through a meadow and forest and features a scenic lookout over Lake Ontario.

The path also passes by the Pioneer Cemetery. In October 1794, three families (the Conants, Trulls and Burks) landed on the shores of Lake Ontario and were considered the first settlers to arrive in the Darlington area. They came from New York State in response to Governor Simcoe’s offer of free land to any man over 18 years of age. The cemetery contains a single gravestone. It is here where some of the members of the Burk family were buried.

Once we looped back to the parking lot, we followed along the Campground Trail to get down to the beach. Along the way we passed the Darlington Pioneer Home, which used to serve as the visitor centre. The original cabin was built in 1832 for a family of twelve. In 1967, the home was moved and rebuilt as a centennial project to commemorate the early settlers.

We then headed down to the beach. The north shore of Darlington is considered an important area for many birds. The natural habitats of this area provide nesting grounds for nearly 100 species of birds and feeding and resting areas for between 100 to 200 more species during spring and fall migration.

We walked along the beach and then set off to find the Robinson Creek Trail (1km, rated easy). It was a bit unclear where the trailhead was, and we had to backtrack a bit, but eventually we found it. The trail weaves through the forest and follows along Robinson Creek.

Afterwards we walked back down to the beach and found the trailhead for the McLaughlin Bay Trail (1.5km, rated easy). The path starts near a marshy area before weaving through the forest.

From there we walked along the road for a bit until we reached the Waterfront Trail. We followed this for a few hundred metres back to the main parking lot near the park office.

We finished up all the trails in Darlington shortly after 12p.m and headed back home. While we would never camp here (the campsites don’t offer much in terms of privacy and you can hear the nearby traffic from the highway), it was a nice area that is relatively close to Toronto to explore.


My progress on the 52 Hike Challenge can be found here

35 thoughts on “Hike #46: Darlington Provincial Park

  1. kagould17 says:

    This looks like an exceptional option for a day hike close to a major metro area. Looks like it was not too busy, which is also a bonus. Thanks for taking us along. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s surprising that there is a park so close to the busiest highway in Ontario. I’m glad Ontario Parks has protected this environmentally sensitive area and it’s available (all year-round) for everyone to enjoy. And yes, it’s always an added bonus to have the trails all to ourselves. Thanks for following along.

  2. Lookoom says:

    I love the autumn colours and the old log cabin. It’s interesting to see that the name McLaughlin is given to this natural space, while the name is associated with the development of the automobile. The two seem to be contradictory, unless it is seen as an attempt for redemption.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s always neat to learn more about the history of Ontario’s provincial parks and how the land was once used. And yes, interesting that there is a trail named after McLaughlin. I did a bit of research on this and apparently the McLaughlin Bay Trail links to the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve, which is located behind the GM Canada headquarters building. I guess that would help explain the name and its relation to automobiles.

  3. Ab says:

    Thank you for sharing this summary and photos! We stopped by Darlington in October on the way from Ferris and Presquile only to pick up a patch and sticker. We didn’t venture in. We’ll know for next time to drop. I love that something so beautiful is so close to Toronto and just off the 401.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      When we visited the Park Office was closed so we were unable to pick up our patch. I guess we’ll need to come back next year! It’s interesting how there is a provincial park so close to such a busy highway. I don’t think I would ever want to camp here as I imagine it would be quite noisy, but it was a nice place to spend a couple of hours. And yes, it’s super convenient how close it is to Toronto.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This was one of the last weekends to enjoy the fall colours before all the remaining leaves fell from the trees. I’m glad the province protected this area given how important it is for nesting and that it serves as a feeding and resting area during the spring and fall migration for so many species of birds.

      • winteroseca says:

        Oh yeah, this was the same time I moved, and I knew I caught the last of the fall leaves, like Darn! That’s amazing that area is protected. People get to enjoy the nature! Merry Christmas! 🎄🤗

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Much of the area around Lake Ontario is built up, especially around Toronto. So it was nice to come across this pocket of protected green space. This year our parks have been incredibly busy, which goes to show how important it is to have places this this. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Take care.

      • winteroseca says:

        That’s amazing that it’s so popular! There’s been a movement in the US to do activities on Black Friday that are anti-materialistic, and parks have been offering free admission to encourage people to visit on Black Friday. I did have a nice Christmas, thank you! Had some special time with my Mum, got a taste of Canadian culture again, but I did miss my Dad. Hope you had a nice Christmas as well! 😊

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        What a lovely idea! Glad you had a nice Christmas, even if we had to celebrate things a little differently this year. My Christmas was very low-key. I’m just thrilled that we got a white Christmas. I can’t wait to go for a hike in this winter wonderland. Take care.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We’ve driven by Darlington so many times over the years and were always curious what it would be like given its close proximity to the highway. Glad we finally checked it out and crossed it off the list. I bet it’s beautiful in the winter after a fresh snowfall and probably wouldn’t be very busy.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Yes!! At the beginning of the year we thought this was such an ambitious challenge and we weren’t sure whether we’d be able to complete all 52 hikes in the year. But as it turns out, COVID-19 happened and that freed up a bunch of our time. We actually completed all our hikes back in November, now it’s just a matter of writing them all up!!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s the final countdown!! We actually finished up all 52 hikes back in November, I’m just incredibly slow at writing about them all. It’s been a lot of fun exploring new trails in Ontario and I feel a bit sad now that our challenge is over. Looks like we’ll have to set a new goal for ourselves for next year!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      This was one of the last weekends to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage before all the leaves fell from the trees. Even though it was cloudy, it turned out to be a pretty nice day to go for a hike. We’ve driven by Darlington so many times and it was nice to finally stop to explore it.

  4. ourcrossings says:

    Beautiful photos and a beautiful trail. Autumn colours only adds more magic to scenic views. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. Sending wishes to you and yours for a beautiful Holiday Season and a peaceful New Year. Aiva 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. This is why the Fall is my favourite time of the year to go hiking. That and the fact that there are no bugs. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and your family. We had a huge snowstorm on Christmas Eve and finally had a white Christmas.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks. Darlington has such a lovely beach. I’m glad the government has protected this stretch of land along the shores of lake Ontario from development as it’s nice to have some recreational opportunities close to Toronto. It’s also an important area for many birds, including the Piping Plover, which is considered an endangered species.

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