Explore Ontario's Greenbelt This Summer

Torontoist

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Explore Ontario’s Greenbelt This Summer

Looking for local places to travel this summer? There are wonderful places to explore in the Greenbelt.

This article is brought to you by Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation

Swayze Falls in the Short Hills. Photo by Robert Casement and used courtesy of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

Swayze Falls in the Short Hills. Photo by Robert Casement and used courtesy of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

The United States has typically been the most popular country for Canadians to visit, with nearly 21 million visits made by Canadians to the U.S. in 2015, according to Stats Canada (the next most-visited country was Mexico, at just under 2 million visits). But given the current U.S. political climate and the dubious travel ban that has recently been put in place, many Canadians are choosing to take their tourism dollars somewhere more in-line with their values. Enter the Greenbelt, a two-million acre stretch of protected green space and farmland around the GTHA.

The protected forests, lakes, rivers, and rolling farms of the Greenbelt make it one of the best places for Torontonians to visit for a long-weekend trip or mini-break from city life that’s close to home.

CORRECTExplore Screenshot 2 - Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation

A new trip-planning tool, Greenbelt Explore, aims to make it easier for outdoorsy types, brewery fans, cycling enthusiasts, families, and anyone who wants to see more of what Ontario has to offer get out into the Greenbelt. With 12 cycling itineraries, 21 Greenbelt Walks, three Brewery Discovery Routes, and thousands of customizable points of interests, there is something for everyone. To get you started, here are some top choices to get out and enjoy the Greenbelt and support the local economy with your tourism plans.

The Cheltenham Badlands on the Royal City Mill Run. Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

The Cheltenham Badlands on the Royal City Mill Run. Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

Cycling

Royal City Mill Run

193 km, three-day cycling loop (Peel Region)
If you’re feeling ambitious, this loop will take you through Erin and Wellington County, passing through eight conservation areas or parks, local farms and farmers’ markets, and, for transit buffs, a railway and streetcar museum. Customize your trip by added B&Bs or campsites to your route.

Views from the Greater Niagara Circle Route. Photo by Nicholas Kuhl and used courtesy of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

Views from the Greater Niagara Circle Route. Photo by Nicholas Kuhl and used courtesy of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

Greater Niagara Circle Route

140 km, two-day cycling loop (Niagara)
If you want to check out the falls and travel on mostly off-road paved trails, this is the route for you. The route includes cafes, a local brewery, the Niagara Falls, and the beautiful Niagara Escarpment.

Alderville Prairie Tour

44 km, day trip (Northumberland)
Starting from Alderville First Nation, this day trip takes you through forests and fields, and, for animal lovers, a possible stop at Primrose Donkey Sanctuary (open from 1–4 p.m. on Thursdays and Sundays).

Cycling on the Alderville Prairie Tour. Photo by Bruce Bellaire and used courtesy of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

Cycling on the Alderville Prairie Tour. Photo by Bruce Bellaire and used courtesy of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

Village Roundabout

59 km, day trip (York Region)
For those who love small-town Ontario, this will be a delightful day trip crisscrossing the Humber River from Schomberg to Kleinburg with a suggested stop at the esteemed McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

Tiffany Falls. Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

Tiffany Falls. Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

Walking and Hiking

Tiffany Falls

0.9 km walk (Hamilton region)
This hike is rated easy and is perfect for any age or ability. Beginning at the Tiffany Falls Conservation Area, walk through the Niagara Escarpment to the 70-foot waterfall.

Ganaraska Forest

4.2 km hike (Durham Region)
If you’re looking for a longer, but still relatively easy, hike with great views of the Oak Ridges Moraine, this walk will take you through the largest contiguous forest area in southern Ontario.

Flowers in the Short Hills. Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

Flowers in the Short Hills. Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

Short Hills

5.8 km hike (Niagara)
This moderate (and ironically named) hike takes you to the highest point in the Niagara Region. The walk is 5.8 kilometres and involves a steep climb to the top, but the view is worth it.

A flight of beers is great way to end a day of exploring the Greenbelt. Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

A flight of beers is great way to end a day of exploring the Greenbelt. Photo courtesy of the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation.

Brewery Discovery Routes

Saints & Sinners

(Cottage Country)
Now known for cottages and the Muskoka chair, during the Prohibition years the south shore of Georgian Bay was a hot spot for bootleggers. Today, it’s also home to many craft breweries and wineries. The Saints & Sinners brewery tour suggests a ton of locations to stop and smell the hops. In between breweries, check out conservation areas, farmers’ markets, and local food at Feast On restaurants.

For these routes and more ideas for local destinations to visit this summer, head to the Greenbelt Explore website!

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