Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: February 2021
Bronte Creek Provincial Park is located on the western edge of Oakville. It’s open year-round and features a variety of activities such as hiking, biking, swimming in one of Canada’s largest outdoor pools, fishing and disc golf. It also contains a number of picnic shelters, Nature Centre, large playbarn for kids, and Victorian homestead.
Provincial parks have become a lot busier than usual during the pandemic. Our strategy was to visit the ones closest to Toronto during the off-season to avoid the crowds. Today we decided to drive to Bronte Creek, which is located about 35 minutes from Toronto. The main road leading into the park is plowed in the winter and there is even someone at one of the booths to ensure people pay for a day pass. There are four main parking lots in the park (so you can just imagine how busy this place can get in the summer) and two of them are open in the winter.
We parked just outside the gate of Parking Lot D and planned to hike a loop through the park, hitting up a few of the trails along the way. From the parking lot we walked north towards Spruce Lane Farm. The farmhouse was built in 1899 and was home to the Breckon family until the 1950s.
According to legend, the Victorian house is haunted. Some visitors claim that there’s a door that opens and closes on its own. Other visitors, on separate occasions, have felt like a servant was following them around. There are also rumours of people hearing whispers, footsteps and children’s laughter from various parts of the house. One theory is that Henry Breckon who mysteriously died in 1931 haunts the house. Nothing is known about his death except that his body was laid out in the front parlour for a days-long wake. Pre-COVID, the park used to host a ghost walk every Sunday night in August to explore the paranormal side of Spruce Lane Farm.
The path passes by the Victorian house and around a series of barns and other buildings that were used by the Breckon family for farming.
The trailhead for the Trillium Trail (1km) is located behind the barns of Spruce Lane Farm. The trail loops along the top of the ridge through a section of hardwood forest and provides nice views into the valley below. Apparently the trail is especially scenic in the spring as there is an abundance of wildflowers and trilliums through the forest. During this time of the year however, the ground was just covered in snow.
Once we looped back to the trailhead, we followed the signs towards the Halfmoon Valley Trail (2km). The trail is well marked with numbered signs from #1 to #10 and is easy to navigate. It leads through a forest, down into the valley and around a small wetland. It also features a nice scenic lookout along the edge of Bronte Creek. The valley was formed during the last ice age. From 1849 to 1874, the valley was home to a kiln that manufactured the bricks used in many local structures. The area was also used for logging until the 1920s.
The path doesn’t quite form a loop and leads out into an open field. We proceeded straight through the field to the forest along the Ravine Trail (2.7km one-way). The path winds along the top of the valley and leads to a scenic lookout of Bronte Creek. The path is not signed and there are a few junctions that lead to Parking Lot A or a picnic area. We accidentally turned off at one of these junctions, ended up at the picnic area and had to use google maps to find the part of the trail that leads to the scenic lookout.
From there we walked back towards the picnic area to the Maiden’s Blush Trail (1.3km). The path is relatively flat and loops through the forest.
We veered off at the junction for the Barrier Free Trail (2.4km). This path was a bit confusing to navigate as there are several access points to the trail. The path leads up a hill and provides a panoramic view of the surrounding area. In the winter the hill is a popular place to go tobogganing.
From the peak, we followed the trail down to the road. We walked along this for a short stretch, passing the pool and park store along the way. The road eventually leads back to Parking Lot D where we parked our car.
We were surprised to see that the remainder of the parking lots were pretty busy by the time we wrapped up. I guess it’s not that surprising considering how close it is to a number of populated cities. Glad we were able to cross this one off our list during the winter as I can only imagine how busy this place would be when the weather is nicer.
My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here
64 thoughts on “Bronte Creek Provincial Park”
So great having this park so close to T.O., but also a curse with crowds, likely. The old house is really cool, especially with the haunting story and the paths look interesting. Nice when a spot has hills, valleys and forests to make it interesting. Thanks for sharing. Stay well. Allan
We always have mixed feelings about the parks close to Toronto. One one hand, it’s very convenient, but on the other, you have to time your visit just right to avoid the crowds. Usually we just try to get there as early in the morning as possible. Hiking in the off-season helps as well, but it seems like the parks are even more crowded than usual these days now that the snow is nearly gone. It’s too bad the park has postponed their ghost tour as that sounds interesting. It certainly was a nice area to go for a hike.
What a lovely, all-season oasis to explore for hikers and nature lovers. I’d say it would be nice to go back to Bronte Creek Provincial Park to see the Trilliums in full bloom as they are a sight to behold. I really like your photos of the old barns – with the gorgeous blue sky and snow on the ground – away from the city, hidden from the world, and surrounded by nature. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. Aiva 🙂
Agreed. It’s nice to return to a place in a different season, which can sometimes offer a totally different experience. The trails can be a bit muddy in the spring, but it’s nice to see the trees starting to bud and flowers blossom. Old barns are always so much fun to photograph and are usually unique and full of character. It’s always great to get away from the city and spend some time in nature. Thanks for reading. Take care.
It does look like a creepy house for a ghost tour.
Ha, it really does. It’s too bad the park stopped offering ghost tours of the house as that sounds like it would have been fun.
Looks like a nice trail L, were you scared about the haunting story — wonder if it’s for real!
It’s too bad the park stopped offering ghost tours as that sounds like it would have been a lot of fun. There are usually creaks and other noises in older houses, which I’m sure just add to the notion that the house is haunted.
That barn looks a lot like Mutt’s barn in Schitt’s Creek!
Ha, that’s right. What a great show. Have you finished watching all the seasons?
Yes. I have seen all seasons about 3 times over now. I will never forget the first time I saw it and how much of it resonated with me being new to Canada
It is honestly one of my favourite shows. Ever. All the characters are really good, but Catherine O’Hara really cracks me up. Her accent is so good.
I know! I can’t think of a show to match it!
Agreed! It was very well done. I’m probably going to start rewatching it again this weekend.
Corner Gas – it’s up there as well with being so on point and funny!
For sure. Corner Gas is another fine example of a great (and funny) Canadian tv show.
Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll see if I can find it on CBC Gem
I’m quite sure it must be on there. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Another one I always say we should go and visit 🙂
Despite being so close to Toronto, this was the first time I’ve visited this park. It reminded me a lot of Rouge National Urban Park in some ways. I’m glad I visited in the winter before the crowds take over. Now that the weather has been getting warmer I’ve noticed how much busier the parks are getting.
This looks so inviting and I love that it’s very close to home. And that Victoria haunted house will be most appealing to our T.
I did look this up when you suggested it earlier this week and I didn’t know about the large outdoor pool. We will definitely have to check this out one day soon!
I’m glad I crossed this one off the list from our parks challenge before the weather got warmer and roads busier. It seems like this is a great park to visit with kids as there are lots of family friendly activities. It reminded me a lot of Rouge National Urban Park in some ways, probably because it’s so close to the city.
That’s great. Will have to add it to our list. Thanks again!
Ontario seems to have a lot of these wonderful provincial parks. I like that they incorporate old homesteads and farms as well as the natural landscape. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks to the pandemic, I’ve made more of an effort to explore a number of these provincial parks. It’s been fun learning more about the history of the area and early settlers. Agreed, it’s great that some of these historic buildings have been preserved and integrated into some of the parks. Thanks for reading.
The Victorian house is gorgeous. Wouldn’t mind one of those, haunted or not. 🙂 It does look like a lovely area to explore, with such varied landscapes. Hope you can come back in spring to see the wildflowers in full bloom.
I’m currently in the process of buying a house. There was this one gorgeous Victorian house we were contemplating putting an offer in, but it didn’t have any ductwork, so we ended up passing. Older houses just have so much charm and character. And agreed, would love to come back in the spring before the mosquitoes get real bad to see all the flowers in bloom.
I love old Victorian buildings, what a pity that one didn’t work out for you. Hope the place you’ve settled on ticks all your boxes!
Agreed. Especially since the housing market is only getting worse. Oh wow is it fiercely competitive. Our search continues.
You did a good job with the photos, as the park is surrounded by inhabited areas but it is not visible and gives the impression of being in the middle of nature.
Thanks for your words. I was surprised we didn’t hear too much traffic given its close proximity to the highway. There’s clearly a big demand for parks close to urban areas, especially these days, it’s too bad there aren’t more of them.
Beyond the park, there is also a path along the river to Bronte on the shore of Lake Ontario.
I’ll have to check this out the next time I visit Bronte Creek Provincial Park. Thanks for letting me know.
I love that so many of your parks combine history & nature. They all look so fun to visit!
For sure. I’ve come to appreciate parks that have storyboards or signs that provide more information about the history of the park and different types of flora and fauna in the area. It’s a good way to get some exercise and learn something new.
What a terrific hiking spot, and the old house looks beautiful, spooky or not. Ontario’s “historical parks” are such a wonderful mix.
Agreed, there’s something so charming about those old Victorian houses. There are usually lots of creaks and other noises in older houses, which I’m sure add to the story that it’s haunted. It’s too bad the park stopped offering its ghost tours.
Lately there is no such “off-season” when speaking about parks nearby Toronto, isn’t it – especially when it’s sunny outside🙂 Thank you for the tour, I didn’t know about the haunted house!
Oh I know. A couple weekends ago we tried to go to Forks of the Credit Provincial Park and were turned away because the parking lot was full. I’ve never seen it so busy there before, especially during this time of the year. The weather is supposed to be nice this weekend so I imagine everyone will be spending time outdoors. Glad we crossed Bronte Creek off our list!
Wow, as soon as I read the title I was flooded with memories. My folks lived in Burlington for almost 40 years and Bronte Creek PP was a favourite place. I remember family walks there and have special memories of a sugaring-off (maple syrup) party one spring.
I can easily see why this was one of your favourite places. Bronte Creek is very family friendly and offers a variety of activities in every season. It’s too bad their annual maple syrup festival is cancelled this year. Hopefully they’ll bring it back next year (assuming this pandemic is finally over).
You mentioned a ghost tour, and we’ve been to some in cities in the U.S. But one out here could be especially eerie! Gorgeous scenery as always in this post!
I’ve been to a couple of ghost tours in other places and have always found them a bit cheesy, but a lot of fun. But alas, ghost tours may be a thing of the past thanks to COVID. At least we can still enjoy our parks!
There were ghost tours while we were there, so I guess all that is re-opening. Because we’d been before, we didn’t do that this time, but we like them. More for the history than the spook value!!
Haha yes, that’s for sure. It’s always neat learning more about the history and hearing stories of suspected hauntings. The things people come up with!
My hubby and I have been trying to do more exploring and day hikes locally. You have inspired me. I enjoy ghost walks…although I have yet to see a ghost on one. I’ve made another addition to bucket list thanks to you. That’s a good thing! Thanks for the article. -Andrea
Oh!!! I love a good haunted house story. The house is beautiful too.
I agree with your plan to visit the busy parks during the winter. There are so many places I just can’t get to in the summer, even if I arrive at 5:00 am. Crazy! Glad you are making it work.
Victorian houses are gorgeous. Since it’s such an old house, I’m sure all the creaks just add to the haunted house theory. Now that the weather is getting warmer, the parks are becoming even busier. A couple weekends ago we were turned away from a park because the parking lot was completely full. A good reminder to head out early.
Oh yes, I know all about that. The RCMP started to ticket people who were parking on the 1A after the lot was full. Always good to start early or have a solid Plan B.
I love nature but they are some great looking man-made buildings!
Agreed! Those historic buildings, especially the Victorian house, are so charming. I’m glad they’ve been preserved and incorporated into the park. It was neat learning more about the history of the early settlers.
I don’t know how I missed this one. Great to have a park with heritage buildings in it (haunted or not). A lot of variety here with forest and ravine. Nice that it is so close to the city, except that is likely why it gets so busy. Thanks for sharing. Have a great weekend. Allan
Anything even remotely close to the city has become busy these days, especially since we’ve been having nothing but blue skies and sun. Great weather for hiking (assuming we remember to take sun screen), but hard to avoid the crowds. Glad we visited this park during the winter when the cold and snow kept people away. Have a great weekend too. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Take care.
Absolutely love the old barn and house. Screams Ontario to me – so different than prairie barns and houses. It’s great that the original homestead is part of the park.
Agreed, I’m glad that this area, including the victorian house and homestead have been preserved. It’s neat getting a glimpse into the past and learning more about the early settlers and their way of life. Now I’m curious as to what the barns and houses look in the prairies. If travel restrictions continue into next year we’ve talked about going on a road trip out west.
Are typical older houses are called Prairie Foursquare. They are not near as elaborate as older Ontario houses. Are barns are those big typical hip roof red ones with horizontal siding not vertical. If you come West I hope you’ll give the prairies more of a chance than some people do.
I googled some images of Prairie Foursquare houses. They look so charming with the wrap around porches in the front. Older homes are usually more charming, but I imagine come with their own set of unique challenges!
You can check out my other blog (1918 Eaton’s Eager) to see the old beauty that we brought back to life. They are very “basic” and not very decorative as compared to old eastern houses but I love mine.
What an incredible experience to buy a historic house, move it, and then completely renovate it. You must have a lot of patience, perseverance and creativity. It’s neat seeing the transformation from the original to what the house looks like now. Well done.
Oh and if you hit Saskatoon we will take you on a bike tour and feed you Saskatoon pie!
Yes please! Many thanks for the offer. We typically don’t like sitting for too long in the car, so I imagine that means we’ll be looking for plenty of detours and places to stop on the drive through the Prairies.
It’s a great city for a bike tour you and down the river. Would love to give you the tour and feed you saskatoon pie!
Sounds delightful 🙂