Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: 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