Springwater Provincial Park

Length of stay1 day
April 2021

Springwater Provincial Park is a day-use park located near Barrie and is open year-round. It was named for its numerous springs and seepages that feed into a series of streams and ponds in the park. It offers a variety of trails that are used for hiking in the spring, summer and fall and cross-country skiing in the winter.

We spent the Easter long weekend at the cabin. Since we both had Monday off and the weather was nice, we decided to squeeze in another hike that was close to Toronto. We are under a stay-at-home order after all. It seemed fitting to visit Springwater in the Spring.

We pulled into the park entrance just before 11a.m and were pleasantly surprised to find someone working at the main gate. We don’t get to socialize much with people in person these days, so appreciated the opportunity to chit chat with another human being. After discussing the recent public health measures, hearing more about the history of the park and recommendations for which trails to hike, we set off for the trailhead.

There are four trails in Springwater, all of which originate at one main trailhead near P5. There used to be a fifth trail, but it looks like it’s been decommissioned.

Many of the trails are interconnected. We decided to hike along the longest trail, the Red Trail (5.0km), which loops around the outer edge of the park. The guy at the main gate warned us that the trail contains some wet and muddy sections, but we should be fine.

From the trailhead we hiked clockwise along the Red Trail. The trail is well signed to help hikers and cross-country skiers navigate through the web of trails. Since the trail is multi-purpose, the path was quite wide and allowed us to walk side-by-side. The first stretch wasn’t too bad. The path winds through the forest and is relatively flat. Given its close proximity to the road, we could still hear the sound of cars zooming by though.

The Red Trail connects back with the Blue Trail. There is another map of the trail system at the junction and a sign that speaks to the importance of wetlands for woodlots and forests. Without a wetland, a stream can cause flooding, erosion and be more prone to drying out during the summer. Marshes and swamps also provide an opportunity for a greater variety of plants, attracting more wildlife to the area.

The sign about the importance of wetlands was aptly placed. Maybe it was a warning sign for what was still to come. From here the trail cross-crosses over and around a series of small springs. This meant that the ground was quite wet and muddy in certain areas. The park was named Springwater for a reason after all. The stretch of the trail that runs parallel with Willson Drive was easily the worst.

After much careful maneuvering around the mud, the trail swerves left and runs parallel to the C.P. Railway. The worst part was over. And hey, at least the bugs weren’t out in full force as that would have been a disaster. The remainder of the trail was mostly dry. In case you were wondering, the railway is still in use. As we were walking along this stretch, a freight trail came roaring by.

From here it’s a short walk back to the trailhead and parking lot. While Springwater isn’t the most scenic of parks and doesn’t offer much in terms of activities or facilities, it was still a nice area to go for a walk. Given it’s close proximity to the city, I’m sure it’s been well used during the pandemic. It would be nice to return in the winter to see what the cross-country skiing is like.


My progress on the Ontario Parks Challenge can be found here

53 thoughts on “Springwater Provincial Park

  1. kagould17 says:

    Nothing worse than spring mud bog trails and I love the Canadian optimism…”at least the bugs weren’t out”. My favourite saying during a -40 cold snap is “Hey, at least there are no mosquitoes.” Every mud puddle or snow bank has a sliver lining. Stay well and thanks for sharing. Allan

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Agreed. Even though I wear waterproof hiking boots (that I know I can wash afterwards), I just hate that feeling of stepping in the mud. Then it becomes caked on the bottom of my boots and I have less traction, so everything becomes more slippery. It also adds more weight and is never fun to clean up afterwards. Despite my distaste for the mud, I’d much prefer it to the mosquitoes. Thanks for reading. Take care.

  2. ourcrossings says:

    Looks like it’s a perfect place to enjoy nature and its peacefulness. I love the entrance of Springwater Provincial Park with a howling wolf, and I love parks like these where you can easily stich together a few short walks into a one big one. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s neat how some Ontario parks have their own unique entrance sign. It’s also cool to see how some of them have changed over time. Agreed, it’s great when the trails are connected so you have the option of scaling up or down depending on trail conditions or how much time you have. During the Spring the trails can be in rough shape with flooding and mud, so it’s comforting to know you can always cut your hike short. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of your week.

  3. Book Club Mom says:

    I’m sure you are right that this trail has been used by many city folks during the pandemic. Although I’m lucky to live in an area with a lot of options, if I lived in a city, I would definitely visit this one. Thanks for sharing it and happy hiking!

  4. Little Miss Traveller says:

    With several trails to choose from it looked like a good place for a walk. Mud is a problem at this time of the year with us too. Hopefully it will start to dry out soon. As for midges, we can all be out together and my husband and younger son totally unaffected whilst older son and me can return home looking as if we’ve caught measles!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      That’s always the downside to hiking during the Spring: mud and bugs. It’s rained here pretty much every day this past week, so I imagine the trails are going to be in pretty rough shape this weekend. Luckily the bugs haven’t come out yet. Midges are very annoying as they love to swarm the face. It’s funny how some people seem to be completely immune to the bugs while others are like a magnet for them.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s always nice to explore a new trail and knock another park off our list. The downside to hiking during this time of the year is that the trails are usually a wet and muddy mess. But at least the bugs aren’t out yet! In a few weeks hiking will become next to impossible so we’re trying to get in as much of it while we can.

  5. carolinehelbig says:

    I like the colour-coded trail system. Keeps it nice and simple. It looks like it would be a nice spot for cross country skiing. Great little Canadiana touch with that Canadian Tire rail car (at first glance I thought it was a store).

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      That it does. I am directionally challenged so appreciate a well-marked trail. It’s also nice to have a map of the trail system at some of the junctions. I must have taken at least 20 pictures of the train going by and noticed that this shot had the Canadian Tire logo visible. It seemed like the clear winner.

  6. Lynette d'Arty-Cross says:

    Nice that it’s so close to the city, and it really looks like it’s far away. Must have been a surprise to see a freight train go lumbering past!
    As for the wetlands, well, it’s good to visit them early in the season. Later on they are going to be a bug festival!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The only downside to visiting a park close to the city is that you can still hear the sound of traffic and cars driving by. A freight train is not something we see or hear often while going for a hike, so yes, that was very unexpected (and loud)! And agreed, I’d rather deal with the mud than the bugs. So I’m glad to cross this swamp off the list.

  7. salsaworldtraveler says:

    This park doesn’t have as many great sights as some of the others but the change of scenery from winter to the beginning of spring made it interesting to follow along. Cool that you were treated to a freight train show, too.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. The park is not the most scenic and memorable, but it was still nice to explore a new trail and make progress on our Ontario Parks challenge. The freight train was very unexpected (and loud)! We were surprised at how close the tracks were to the trail. It definitely made for an interesting walk.

  8. Island Traveler says:

    Thanks for sharing a very relaxing and wonderful adventure today. Hiking is really feeling free and alive. It’s connecting with nature and our inner selves , plus cardio. Take care. 🙏

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      It’s always great to reconnect with nature and go for a walk in the woods. It definitely helps clear my head and puts things into perspective. Since we’re working from home we don’t get as much exercise as we used to before the pandemic. So it’s been good to try to explore a new park every weekend to get some fresh air and exercise. Thanks for reading. Stay safe.

  9. Planet Paul says:

    You seem to have a lot of extremely clearly marked trails in Canada. It reminds of similar in New Zealand but I’m guessing that beyond that there’s a lot of ‘wild’ hiking that could be done. Though we have the odd forest and often reservoirs are used for pleasant hikes around, we don’t generally have the same clear cut colour coded trail type set ups here in the UK. We’ve got lots of wooden public footpath signs not quite pointing the correct way throughout the countryside mind!

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I am terrible with directions and navigation so I appreciate a well marked trail. Gold star if there is a map at the trailhead. I’ve been to the UK once many years ago and spent some time in London and Salisbury. I would love to return to explore more of the countryside, even if the trails aren’t well signed.

  10. Ab says:

    I will admit that we are often in a rush to get out of town and that congestion along the 400 to Barrie is never fun that we often can’t clear Barrie fast enough. We’ve never thought to do detour near Barrie. But something to keep in mind for the future.

    The muddy area didn’t look fun at all but good for you for maneuvering your way around!

    Have you ever ventured into Innisfil? It’s the last big down before Barrie and it is quite lovely there from what I recall from childhood memories.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      The traffic around Barrie is the worst, especially on weekends and in the summer. Since we both had Easter Monday off we figured this would be a great park to cross off the list as we wouldn’t have to deal with the roads being congested in the middle of a weekday. The park itself is nice, but nothing special. I’ve become a bit of a pro at trying to keep my hiking boots as clean as possible (I just hate the feeling of walking through the mud!). I’ve never been to Innisfil, but I’ve heard it’s nice. I used to work with someone who lived in Innisfil and would make the commute to Toronto every day. She’s probably living her best life out there during this pandemic. I’ll have to check it out next time I’m in the area (assuming it’s not on a weekend or during rush hour traffic).

      • Ab says:

        Innisfil is quite a charming town and also quite amazingly innovative as you may see one day.

        Happy Friday and weekend! 😊

      • WanderingCanadians says:

        Good to know. I’m always a fan of a charming town. Happy Fri-yay to you as well. The weather looks like it might be pretty decent this weekend. We’re going to try to visit the Scarborough Bluffs tomorrow morning on the drive up to the cabin.

  11. Olympus Mountaineering says:

    It’s nice to know/read that from your cabin you could visit Springwater Provincial Park.

    Although this hike was not very long, I see you do a lot of km the last few months and it is nice to see/read on your blog!

    Looking forward to your next adventure.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Now that we’re working from home we don’t get as much fresh air and exercise as before the pandemic. So we’re trying to make more of an effort to go for at least one hike every weekend. Some hikes are shorter than others, but you’re right, once you add them all up, it’s quite a lot of hiking we’ve done since the start of the year. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  12. Lookoom says:

    I compliment you for keeping this walking program at a high level, it is true that with the return of the bugs it will be less pleasant.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      We’ve made really good progress on our Ontario Parks challenge this month despite the muddy conditions on the trail. We figure we might as well try to visit as many provincial parks as we can before the mosquitoes come out to play! I’ll take the muddy and wet trails over the mosquitoes and black flies any day.

  13. Diana says:

    This is very much beside the point, but I really like the entry sign for the park! I think maybe it’s the unique shape of it that caught my eye.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      Some of our parks have their own unique entrance sign. I’ve made it a habit to take a picture of these signs as I find it cool to see how they evolve over time and do a comparison with other parks. The shape of this one definitely stands out and I quite enjoy the howling wolf (even though there are probably no wolves in that area anymore).

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      I’ve come to enjoy taking pictures of the entrance signs at the various parks we’ve been visiting. Some of them, like this one at Springwater, have their own unique style and design. It was a beautiful day to go for a walk, even if the trails were a bit muddy.

    • WanderingCanadians says:

      For sure. It’s still nice to have these green spaces for all to enjoy, even if the views themselves aren’t always spectacular. It was a beautiful day to go for a walk and enjoy the fresh air.

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