Boyne Valley Provincial Park

Length of stay1 day
March 2021

Ontario boasts of having 340 provincial parks. Not all parks are created equally though. Some of these parks are non-operating, meaning they have limited or no visitor facilities or services and offer few (if any) activities. Boyne Valley Provincial Park is one of these non-operating parks, however, it does provide a few hiking trails.

We put an offer on a house earlier this morning and decided what better way to take our mind off things than by going for a hike. Searching for a house during the pandemic (and watching prices steeply climb) has been stressful. Needless to say, we could use the distraction.

Boyne Valley Provincial Park is located near Shelburne, which is just over an hour northeast of Toronto. There are a few access points and parking areas to enter the park. We parked at a small parking lot at the northern boundary of the park near Centre Road and 5th Sideroad.

While all the snow in Toronto has long since melted, there was a thick layer of it here in Boyne Valley. Except it was a mix between crusty snow and ice. And we were not prepared for this. We planned to hike a 6.3km loop through the park. From the access point, we veered right along the Bruce Trail. This part of the path weaves through an open meadow and orchard and the conditions on the trail weren’t too bad (yet), we could cling to the sides which were free of snow and ice.

Shortly after there’s a small detour along the Murphy’s Pinnacle Side Trail (70m) that leads to the top of a kame, an irregularly shaped hill composed of sand, gravel and till that was deposited here by meltwater during the last ice age. The side trail leads to the top of the hill, which provides a panoramic view of the Boyne Valley in all directions.

We continued to follow the white blazes through the open meadow and into the forest. This is where things got tricky. Or should I say slippery. Progress was slow, but we managed to stay on our feet the whole time.

We were grateful for the small sections of boardwalk that provided temporary relief from the ice trail. Some of these crossed over the Boyne River, which was at its peak from all the melting snow.

The trail then leads up a steep ridge, which surprisingly wasn’t too bad to climb up despite the ice. The trail continues to weave through the forest and leads to a junction. The Bruce Trail continues onward, but we turned off at the Boyne Valley Side Trail (2.7km), which leads back to the access point from which we entered.

We followed the blue blazes through the forest. This stretch was relatively flat, which made it easier to hike along through the snow. The path leads out to the road, which we followed for a few hundred metres before dipping back into the forest. The next part was the most challenging yet. From here the trail leads up a steep ridge along the side of a ravine. Not only did we have to worry about falling, but if we fell, there was the fear of sliding down into the ravine.

There were a couple of hikers who caught up to us while we were slowly making our way up the ice hill. They of course were wearing microspikes and were having no issues with the ice. They probably thought we were a bunch of idiots. Fear of creating a bottleneck along the trail gave us the final push we needed to get to the top of the death hill.

From here the conditions on the trail improved significantly. The side trail connects back with the larger Bruce Trail and leads out into an open meadow where most of the snow had melted. We were back on solid ground.

We passed a few other hikers on our way back to the access point, some of which were less prepared than us and were wearing running shoes. Good luck. By the time we returned to the parking lot, it was completely full and there were a few cars parked along the side of the road. A good sign to head home.

By the way, we ended up getting that house we put an offer on.


My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here

69 thoughts on “Boyne Valley Provincial Park

  1. Ab says:

    Hey!!! Congrats on the house. That’s amazing! 🙂 Where about will you be moving to?

    The trail looks very nice. I do wonder how safety works in a non-operating park should anything happen though? More of a question for myself and not pros like you two!

    And yes, who knew micro spikes on shoes was something you gotta plan for too? 🤣

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks!! It’s been quite the roller coaster of a process. We’re moving quite a ways out of the city to Georgetown. Non-operating parks are very bare bones. In terms of safety, all the trails, including at non-operating parks, seem to be packed these days. So we’re not too concerned about finding help in case anything happens. Reception can be hit or miss out here, but it wasn’t too bad on this trail. We only lost signal when we were down in the valley. I’ve been meaning to buy micro spikes for awhile, and just kept putting it off. Just when we thought we were in the clear, we of course had to visit this park. I’m sure all the snow and ice is all melted now, especially after the gorgeous weekend we just had!

      • Ab says:

        Congrats! Georgetown is a nice area and it’s also, in the grand scheme, not too far from the city and still commutable! Must be nice to have found your home!

        I’m sure you read this already, but sharing in case – all adults in Hotspot areas can get their vaccine soon. You can look up your postal code to see if you qualify. 🤞🏻

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        It feels fantastic to be done with the house hunt. The house needs some renovations, so I’m sure we’ll experience a different set of challenges! It’ll be quite the shift but it’ll be nice to have more space though and an actual backyard to grow a garden. I’m glad I don’t have to test out the commute anytime soon! I just checked my eligibility for a vaccine and no dice.

  2. kagould17 says:

    Hope your house offer went your way. I recall those times and they can be quite nerve wracking. Boyne looks pretty good for a closed park. Love the vistas and the forests. We always carry our MEC cleats with us at this time of year. We lost one on a hike and bought a new pair. We were surprised to see how much they wear down and I replaced mine too. There is a fine line between ice and then mud, so hard to know what footwear to do, but hikers work best. Stay well. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Oh gosh, the housing market is just insane, and it’s not just in Ontario. There seems to be a common issue everywhere with demand exceeding supply, which just drives up prices and emotions. I’m so glad to be done with the whole housing search. I kept meaning to buy microspikes or ice cleats. And the longer I put it off, the more I kept telling myself that I’d be fine and I could just buy a pair later. I’ll be sure to be more prepared next winter, especially since we’ve come to enjoy hiking during the off-season. The snow and ice should all be gone, now it’s just dealing with the mud. Take care.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’m glad to say that this was the last time we’ve had to hike on a trail that’s still covered in snow or ice. Or at least until next winter. Spring is out in full force here in Ontario and we’ve had such lovely weather the past few weeks. The birds are chirping, the trees are budding and the wildflowers are nearly starting to bloom. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! It’s been quite the stressful process. I’m glad we finally found something and can now be done with it. We always thought we’d live in the city, but the pandemic has really changed our perspective on that. We’re looking forward to being closer to more trails and green space.

  3. Lookoom says:

    I’m happy for you regarding the house, it’s like poker, you had to resist to the crazy price rise. From my time in Ireland, I remember the Boyne Valley being the site of the battle between the Catholic King of England and his Protestant challenger. I wonder if the name in Ontario refers to this event.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! It was sometimes hard to not get swept up in the rush. It’s like the wild west out there and so many people are going in with firm offers without any conditions. We lucked out on this house, largely because the real estate agent didn’t do a good job with the scheduling process (you couldn’t book online, the appointments were only for 15 minutes, and the viewings were during weird times) that coupled with the fact that it was only really on the market for two half days and one full day. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what Boyne Valley was named after. We have a history of naming things after events or places in the UK and Ireland!

  4. ourcrossings says:

    Such a beautiful trail and those views are certainly stunning. Buying a house is an emotional process and it’s difficult to stay level-headed but keeping calm is the best way to make rational decisions. Best of luck with everything and thanks for sharing. Aiva 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for the wise words. It’s hard not to let emotions come in, especially after multiple rejections. I’m so glad to be done with the search and stress. Going for a hike sure was a great distraction. It was a nice way to keep our mind off things and get some fresh air. I’m glad it all worked out in the end. Thanks for reading.

  5. Meg says:

    Hooray for getting your house! And what a great way to (try to) not think about it by taking this lovely hike. 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks!! Going for a hike really was a good distraction, especially since the conditions on the trail were a bit treacherous with all that ice. I’m glad it all worked out in the end, both in terms of getting the house and completing the trail without injuring ourselves in the process!

  6. carol hopkins says:

    I am familiar with Shelburne but have never walked that trail. I am glad you survived your adventure on death hill and are here to write about it! Great pics – we still have a bit of snow and ice in the woods here as well.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Boyne Valley isn’t well signed, so it’s easy to miss. Since it’s a non-operating park, it’s pretty bare bones and offers no facilities or services. It’s a nice area to hike, even if the trails were slippery. Glad we were able to complete our hike without injuring ourselves in the process!

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        For sure, otherwise no more hiking for us for awhile. We were back in this area on Saturday and went for a hike at Pretty River Valley Provincial Park and were delighted that there was no more snow or ice on the trails. Only mud.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        It sure is. It went up to 20C on Saturday! I actually regretted not wearing shorts on our hike. Some of the wildflowers were starting to bloom. So despite the mud, the trail was actually quite nice.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Finally some good news and something to look forward to. It’s a shame what’s happening in Canada with COVID these days. For now we’re just trying to find happiness in the small things in life, like enjoying the warmer weather and watching the flowers bloom. And just hope things will get better.

      • carol hopkins says:

        We are now over 700 cases in this city. In a city of around 80,000 that’s a lot. No doubt the variants are driving the increasing numbers. It’s still climbing and that’s worrisome.

        I shudder when I see what’s happening in Ontario, too. I have a brother in Scarborough, one of the hardest hit areas of the city, or so I’ve read.

        It is a blessing to have green spaces and wonderful trails where people can hear the birds and take in the beauty of nature.

        I hope you stay safe and can continue to enjoy your cabin, despite the new restrictions. Things will get better, we just have to hang on.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        The surge in cases all over Canada has been worrisome. So many hospitals are at or above capacity. My sister is a nurse in Ottawa and she says soon they might have to start making decisions about who to ventilate. I can’t imagine being put in that position and having to decide who to save. For now we’re just patiently waiting our turn to be vaccinated. We’re still going for our hikes, but we make an effort to leave first thing in the morning before the trails become crowded. We’re hoping to visit our cabin next weekend to celebrate my birthday. It’s like you said, we just have to hang in there and do our part to stay healthy and safe.

      • carol hopkins says:

        I will keep your sister in my prayers. That would be a horrible position to be in. I don’t think people understand the toll all health care workers are enduring on every level: physical, metal, emotional, spiritual….
        I also have several family members in health care. I know the vaccine is here but there is no guarantee they will work against certain variants. I was glad to see Ford closed the provinces borders. I just hope it isn’t a cast of too little too late. Hang in there my friend and I hope you do enjoy your birthday despite the covid storm all around us. God bless.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Many thanks. Agreed, I can’t even imagine what some of those front line workers, especially at hospitals or long-term care homes, have had to deal with through this pandemic. Stay healthy and safe. Take care.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Yes! Finally!! I think we lucked out with this one as the selling agent really didn’t do a good job listing it. You couldn’t book an appointment online, the viewings were only for 15 minutes, and the showings were at terrible times (Thursday and Friday from 1-5p.m) and Saturday. The offer presentation was the next day. We went Friday afternoon and luckily there was no one that showed up after us and we were able to spend a full hour in the house. Hope your house hunt isn’t too stressful. It’s the wild west out there.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        There were 5 offers in total. It’s funny because when we first started looking for a house in the fall there seemed to be way more offers on any given house, and yet now, even with less offers, how much a house sells for over asking has nearly doubled. $150K+ over asking seems to be the new normal. Even houses that need extensive renovations are selling like hot cakes. It’s crazy and extremely stressful. All the best with your search. The nice thing is that it seems like there are more houses coming on the market over the past month or so.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        I hear you. You would think that with more houses and fewer bidders that it would stabilize the prices. I guess there’s only so much stress and disappointment someone can take and they’d just rather pay a premium and be done with this. It can’t continue like this forever. It’s just not sustainable. All the best on your continued search.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! One of the main reasons we moved was to be closer to more trails and green spaces. I’ve always enjoyed spending time outdoors and can’t wait to finally be able to grow a garden. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks. The icy trail was a great way to keep us distracted while we waited to hear back about our offer. I’m glad to be finally done with the house hunt and even more thrilled to move closer to more trails and parks.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks!! It was quite the stressful process to try to find a house during the middle of the pandemic. I’m so glad that the search is finally over. I can’t wait to move out of the city and be closer to more trails and green spaces. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The scenic lookout was easily the highlight of the trail – for the views and because that portion of the trail wasn’t covered in snow or ice. Thanks, the housing market is insane, so after a lot of rejection, I’m glad it all worked out in the end!! I’m looking forward to moving out of the city and being closer to nature.

  7. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    Congratulations on your house purchase! That must have been brutal. The house prices are completely nuts. Good luck with your move and all the other bits that come with that. And yes, a nice hike to get your bearings back. I am quite familiar with the Shelburne area but haven’t gone to that park.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks. It seems that the housing market is crazy everywhere these days. After much disappointment and rejection, I’m glad we finally landed something. I think we really lucked out with this house as the selling agent did a really terrible job with the booking and viewing process (couldn’t reserve a showing online, appointments were only for 15 minutes and the house, and the house was only on the market for one full day and two half days). I’m looking forward to moving out of the city and being closer to more green spaces.

  8. Christie says:

    Congrats on the house, the area is really nice! We have some friends who will be moving soon to Erin, I can’t wait to visit them LOL Although stressful at this time, I’m sure you will be soon over, and glad to be away from the city. Take care, xx

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks! I’m so glad to be finally done with the house hunt. It was definitely a rollercoaster of emotions with more low points than high. Erin is beautiful. It’s very rural, but it’s nice to be surrounded by nature. I’m looking forward to leaving the city, especially with the recent surge in cases. We don’t even bother going for a walk during lunch anymore because of how busy the sidewalks are. It’s not worth the risk.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      That it was even though the trail was quite icy. It added an extra challenge to our hike. It was also a great way to keep us distracted while we waiting to hear back the house we put an offer on earlier in the morning.

  9. Janet says:

    Reading about the icy trail and the climb gave me the willies. 🙂 Sounds like it was fun though. Congratulations on your new house! That’s exciting news.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks!! That trail was pretty sketchy with all the ice, especially since it was along a ravine. It was a good reminder that we should probably buy microspikes or ice cleats. It was a good way to keep ourselves distracted from thinking about our offer though. It’s been such a stressful process looking for a house during the pandemic when the housing market is at it’s hottest. I’m so glad it’s over and that we’re moving out of the city!!

      • Janet says:

        I love my microspikes. We hardly use them because there isn’t much snow where we hike. I recommend them though if you’re thinking of getting them. We moved out of the city 15 years ago and never regretted the decision. Good luck with everything.

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Good to know. We only really started hiking during the offseason during the pandemic and have come to enjoy it. The trails are usually quieter and there are no bugs. Our only challenge is dealing with icy trails towards the end of winter and muddy trails in the spring. Everyone I know that has microspikes swears by them, so I’ll look into finally getting a pair.

  10. kagould17 says:

    I couldn’t figure out how I missed so many of your posts, but then I recall one of my readers saying my posts were not always appearing in Reader and then that she had accidentally unfollowed me. This has happened to me a few ties as well. Unexplained unfollows, posts (even mine) not showing u in reader. So, sorry for the late reads. This place looks interesting and I can only imagine it must have Irish roots. Great that you found a hike to take your mind off your house offer. I recall from my times with this, that it is a very nerve wracking time. How are you enjoying the back yard? Stay well. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Sounds like WordPress still needs to work out a few kinks in their system. I’ve experienced issues like this as well where somehow I’ve unfollowed someone or their posts don’t show up in Reader. Instead I have to rely on email notifications, which can be very tedious to sort through sometimes, or visit their actual site to double check. Not ideal.

      Going for a hike was a great way to pass the time and take our mind off of things, especially since the trail was a bit challenging. Sounds like it gave us the good luck that we needed! We are loving our backyard, but I gotta say, taking care of it seems like a full time job sometimes!! We’re making plans to put in a garden next spring, so we’ve been busy planning and researching.

Leave a Reply