Located along the sandy shores of Lake Ontario, Darlington Provincial Park is considered an important area for many birds. The northern shores 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. Darlington also provides a variety of recreational activities, such as swimming, hiking, birdwatching, fishing and boating. It is conveniently located right off Highway 401 and it is open all year-round.
We’ve been to Darlington twice:
Darlington offers few short and relatively flat hiking trails:
(1) Burk Trail (2.25km, rated moderate). The path weaves through a meadow and forest and features a scenic lookout that provides a glimpse of Lake Ontario. The path also passes a Pioneer Cemetery, which contains a single gravestone and is where where some of the members of the Burk family, who were among some of the early settlers in the area, were buried.
(2) McLaughlin Bay Trail (1.5km, rated easy). The path is relatively flat and weaves through tall grass near a wetland and leads to the shore of Lake Ontario. The trail also passes a fish hut (to clean your fish) and four fishing nodes that extend out into the bay.
(3) Robinson Creek Trail (1km, rated easy). The trail is relatively flat and loops through the forest and follows along Robinson Creek.
(4) Waterfront Trail (2.6km, rated easy). A small section of the 350 km, multi-use trail that follows the shore of Lake Ontario from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Trenton and passes through Darlington.
Other Activities and Attractions
Darlington also offers a few other activities and sights including:
- Swimming – There is a beautiful sandy beach at Darlington, although some areas have been fenced off to minimize human disturbance to the nests of Piping Plover, an endangered bird.
- Darlington Pioneer Home – Serves as the park’s Visitor and Information Centre. The original cabin was built in 1832 north of Whitby for a family of twelve. In 1967, the home was moved and rebuilt as a centennial project to commemorate the early settlers.
- Birding – Many species of migratory birds can be seen in the park in the spring and fall. There is even a bird sightings board located at the main park office to indicate what has been spotted lately.
- Fishing – There is a fishing hut and four fishing nodes located near the third and four parking lots (P3 and P4) and are accessible via the McLaughlin Bay Trail.
Darlington is located close to the GTA, so we have never camped here (and probably never will given its close proximity to the highway). However, the park offers car camping on 322 sites across three different campgrounds: Lakeside, Cliffside and Hilltop. All of the sites in Lakeside Campground offer electrical service and are designated as radio-free. The sites in the other two campgrounds are a mix between electrical and non-electrical.