As rumours abound of a potential delay in the return to in-person school, there’s never been a better time to get (re)acquainted with some of Oakville’s beautiful outdoor amenities.
With a little help from Eugénie Eckler, an Oakville mom and realtor behind the Facebook group Activity & Outing Ideas ~Halton Kids, we’ve rounded up some favourite destinations to visit this winter break.
Take a Walk
An accessible path for the youngest walkers starts in the woods behind one of Eckler’s favourite playgrounds, Nautical Park in southwest Oakville. The trail makes a 400-m loop through a mature forest stand before looping back to the parking lot. For a longer walk, it’s also possible to continue east on foot into Village Wood Park or head southeast along the utility corridor path to Shell Park.
For younger children, the Oakville Public Library has installed StoryWalks: at Bronte Heritage Waterfront Park, Tannery and Waterworks Parks, and George Savage Park. “Along the walk, there’s this book that’s being displayed,” Eckler explains, “Every few feet, there’s a billboard of another page of the book. They’re kind of cool.” All three parks with StoryWalk installations make for excellent outings the whole family will enjoy.
Take a Hike
With a couple of hours free, it’s possible to take a near-wilderness adventure without leaving town.
The trails of Sixteen Mile Creek make a popular year-round adventure. Although the town closes the steep road access to Lion’s Valley Park for the winter, it is still possible to access the area on foot. Hikers and trail runners tend to park at Neyagawa Park (540 Riverglen Blvd) and follow the trails into the base of the valley.
The trails of Bronte Creek Provincial Park offer another near-wilderness experience without leaving town. The park straddles Bronte Creek north of the QEW, and there are wilderness trails on both sides. The eastern campground access at 3201 Upper Middle Road West off Bronte Road has an area to walk off-leash and a trail that hugs the clifftop with many beautiful vistas into the valley.
Make sure to wear appropriate footwear because the wilderness trails do get muddy after a snowfall or rain. Try the Gaia App to get situated on wilderness trails in the park. A daily vehicle permit ($18) is required, but you can borrow provincial park passes from the Oakville Public Library.
“I really like my ravine walks,” Eckler says. She recommends printing out a simple scavenger hunt like this one from CBC Kids to help add interest.
Visit a new playground
Sometimes it’s nice to mix it up with a visit to a different playground. Fortunately, Oakville has many. Eckler recommends West Oak Trails Community Park with its play structure, wooded trails and soccer field, Pine Glen Park at Third Line south of Dundas, and her kids’ all-time favourite: Fowley Park, northeast of Dundas and Sixth Line. Located in a new neighbourhood, the park has a fun zip line to ride and lots of room to play.
While Old Abbey Park (1110 Old Abbey Lane) remains a favourite destination for sledders, Eckler also recommends the slightly less busy hill behind Garth Webb Secondary School at 2820 Westoak Trails Blvd.
Other toboggan hills to check out include Memorial Park (120 Oak Park Blvd.) in Oakville’s Uptown Core, Tannery Park (west of downtown Oakville), Riverview Park (north of Bronte Beach off Lakeshore Rd W.), and the grounds of Appleby College. The latter is private property but has been a popular tobogganing destination for decades.
And finally, last but not least, Bronte Provincial Park also has a good toboggan hill accessible from the western day-use gate at 1219 Burloak Drive. As mentioned above, a valid permit is necessary to access the park.