While rumors abound of a potential delay in the in-person return to school, there’s never been a better time to (re)acquaint yourself with some of Oakville’s beautiful outdoor facilities.
With a little help from Eugenie Eckler, an Oakville mom and realtor behind the Facebook group Ideas for activities and outings ~Halton Kidswe’ve rounded up some favorite destinations to visit during the winter break.
To take a walk
A trail accessible to younger walkers begins in the woods behind one of Eckler’s favorite playgrounds, Nautical Park in southwest Oakville. The trail makes a 400m loop through a mature forest stand before returning to the parking lot. For a longer walk, it is also possible to continue east on foot until Village wood park or head southeast along Utilities Corridor Road to Shell park.
For younger children, the Oakville Public Library has installed Journey of stories: at Bronte Heritage Waterfront Park, Tannery and Aqueduct Parksand George Savage Park. “Along the boardwalk there’s this book that’s displayed,” Eckler explains, “Every few yards there’s a billboard of another page from the book. They’re pretty cool. The three parks featuring StoryWalk facilities make great outings for the whole family.
To take a walk
With a few free hours, it is possible to go on an adventure in the heart of nature without leaving the city.
The trails of Sixteen Mile Creek make it a popular year-round adventure. Although the city closes the steep road access to Lion 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 to the bottom of the valley.
The trails of Bronte Creek Provincial Park provide another close-to-the-wilderness experience without leaving the city. The park straddles Bronte Creek north of the QEW highway, and there are wilderness trails on both sides. the access to the campsite is at 3201 Upper Middle Road West, near Bronte Road, there is an area for off-leash walking and a trail that hugs the cliff with many great views of the valley.
Be sure to wear proper footwear as the wild trails get muddy after a snowfall or rain. Try it Gaia app to locate yourself on the wild trails of the park. A daily vehicle permit ($18) is required, but you can borrow provincial park passes at Oakville Public Library.
“I really like my ravine walks,” Eckler says. She recommends printing out a simple treasure hunt like this one from CBC Kids to help add interest.
Visit a new playground
Sometimes it’s nice to mix that up with a visit to a different playground. Fortunately, Oakville has plenty of them. 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 his children’s all-time favourite: Fowley Park, northeast of Dundas and Sixth Line. Located in a new neighborhood, the park has a fun zipline to ride and plenty of room to play.
While Park of the old abbey (1110 Old Abbey Lane) remains a favorite destination for sledders, Eckler also recommends the slightly less traveled hill behind Garth Webb High School at 2820 Westoak Trails Blvd.
Other toboggan hills to discover include memorial park (120 Oak Park Blvd.) in downtown Oakville, 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 privately owned but has been a popular tobogganing destination for decades.
And finally, last but not least, Bronte Provincial Park also has a good sledding hill accessible from the west day use gate at 1219 Burloak Drive. As mentioned above, a valid permit is required to access the park.