Located in Oakville and bordering Burlington, Bronte Creek Provincial Park is one of the few provincial parks located close to Toronto. While it features some of the best hiking trails in Oakville, this park has so much more to offer! If you’re looking for a great way to get out in nature in the GTA without having to travel too far, see why you should plan a visit to Bronte Creek Provincial Park!
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About Bronte Creek Provincial Park
Long before this area became a provincial park, Bronte Creek was formed as glaciers sculpted the Queenston Shale bedrock over 14,000 years ago. Long before European colonization, this area has been the territory of First Nations Peoples like the Anishinaabe, Attiwonderonk (Neutral), Haudenosaunee and Mississauga. Archeological evidence of this dates back to 5000 BCE.
The influx of European settlers saw the area used as farmland starting in the mid-1800s. Bronte Creek and the surrounding valley was a prime location for logging, mills and farming. As time progressed, settlement increased along the shores of Lake Ontario and industrialization took over.
With development taking control as Toronto continued to expand, Bronte Creek Provincial Park was established in 1972 to protect the natural features of the creek as well as the local agricultural history of the area. This area is significant as it’s the most continuous river valley system along the shores of Lake Ontario – and the least disturbed. It officially opened in 1975 as Ontario’s first “near urban” park. Now it’s safe to say that Bronte Creek Park is certainly a fully urban park!
Seeing over 300,000 visitors each year, it’s safe to say that Bronte Creek is a natural oasis in the concrete jungle of the GTA.
Top Things to Do at Bronte Creek Provincial Park
This 6.4-square-kilometre park has plenty to offer locals and visitors alike! Here are the top things to do at Bronte Creek so you can spend a fun-filled day outdoors.
Bronte Creek Provincial Park Hiking
One of the top things to do at Bronte Park is to check out the hiking trails! With seven official trails to choose from in the day-use area alone along with the numerous pathways throughout the park, there’s no shortage of adventures to be had. Each trail is around 2 kilometres or less, meaning it’s easy to combine a few for a solid hike.
While all of the trails have their own charm, there are a few certainly worth noting. The Trillium Trail is not to be missed in the spring as this is where you’ll find beautiful fields of our province’s official flower – hence the name. The Half Moon Valley Trail takes you through a beautiful forested area and offers access to the ravine. For some of the best views of Bronte Creek, you’ll want to do the Lookout Ravine Trail.
However, there’s one trail that isn’t clearly marked on the map but luckily some kind soul has flagged it on Google. Just off of the Barrier Free Trail in behind the nature centre, you’ll find an adorable little stretch along one of the park’s pathways. Referred to as “Gnome Road”, you’ll see a number of adorable fairy houses that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face! Click here for the location to ensure you don’t miss out on this adorable gem.
What trails you’re looking to hike will help you decide where to park as there are a number of lots in Bronte Creek Provincial Park. The Barrier Free Trail and Maiden’s Blush Trail are both easily accessible from parking lots A, C & D via park pathways. If you’re looking to explore along the ravine as well as the Half Moon Valley and Trillium Trails, I’d recommend parking in lot F.
INSIDER TIP: It’s a good idea to have the Bronte Creek Provincial Park map handy as the pathways within the middle of the park aren’t very well marked. As you get to the trails around the outskirts of the day use area, the trails are more clearly illustrated so you shouldn’t have any trouble. Take a photo as you enter the park or save this one to your phone during your visit.
There are also three trails on the campground side of the park, however they are not accessible from the day-use area.
Check Out the Discovery Programs
Bronte Creek Provincial Park is unique in that it offers not one but two interpretive centres! First, there’s the Nature Centre where you will find displays about the unique natural wonders found within the park. Perfect for all ages, you’ll learn about the ravine and creek as well as the fields and forests around Bronte Creek. There’s also a discovery room where children can have a hands-on experience with turtles.
The other is the Spruce Lane Farmhouse which shares what life was like for farmers in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It’s a living history museum that is bound to be a hit for the whole family. Why? Well, I’d say a warm welcome from the local cows is sure to do the trick!
From March until December, the staff at Bronte Creek have special family programs and events to make your visit extra special. Offerings will vary due to changing restrictions so I’d recommend keeping an eye on their Facebook Page for announcements.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: As of right now, the interpretive centres are closed due to the current regulations. If this is something you have your heart set on experiencing, it’s best to contact the park in advance to ensure these experiences are available.
Cast a Line and Go Fishing
Believe it or not, you can go fishing at Bronte Creek! Grab your rod and tackle then make your way to the Half Moon Valley Trail. From here you can easily access the creek in two spots. Don’t forget you need to have an outdoors card and a valid fishing license in order to do so!
Rainbow Trout, Splake, Steelhead and Pacific Salmon can be found in Bronte Creek. However, each fish has a different season and as such, you can only fish for them when the season is open. Rainbow Trout and Splake is from the fourth Saturday in April until September 30th, Steelhead is from the middle of October until the middle of December and Pacific Salmon is from late August until late October.
Swim at the Bronte Creek Pool
Did you know that you’ll find one of Canada’s largest outdoor pools at Bronte Creek Provincial Park? Located in the day use area’s recreation complex, this 1.8 acre pond-shaped is perfect for families and those who aren’t the strongest swimmers. It has a very gradual slope starting at just a few centimetres but then deepens to two metres (six feet) in the middle.
As this is an outdoor pool, it is open from July 1st until Labour Day, though temporary closures can occur because of inclement weather. There is also an additional fee of $4.00 for adults 18 years of age and older, $3.00 for youth between 4 and 17 years of age and children 3 and under swim for free.
More Things to Do
I’m not kidding when I say there’s plenty of fun to be had at Bronte Creek! Here are a few more ideas of things to do during your visit to the park.
Biking – Grab your wheels and enjoy the gravel roads and access trails throughout the park. Maiden’s Blush Trail is also available for cyclists, meaning you can enjoy a number of great loops in Bronte Creek Provincial Park.
Birding – If you’re a big fan of our feathered friends, you’ll be thrilled to know that over 190 species have been spotted at Bronte Creek. Pack your binoculars and see who you can spot along the trails!
Disc Golf – Similar to Mikisew Provincial Park near South River, Bronte Creek Provincial Park also has a disc golf course for visitors to enjoy. This 18 hole course has a solid mix of wide open long shots and short, tight shots that will certainly keep you entertained. If you do not have your own disc, you can rent one from the park store.
Winter at Bronte Creek
Bronte Creek is one of the Ontario Parks properties that are open year-round! This means you can get out and enjoy some quality nature time even when the snow has fallen. Here’s a list of the things to do at Bronte Creek Provincial Park in the winter.
Cross Country Skiing – One of the many spots to go cross country skiing in Ontario, Bronte Creek features approximately 10 kilometres of ungroomed cross-country ski trails. It’s easy to create a loop through the park and will allow you to cover a little more distance than hiking!
Snowshoeing – While many of the trails will be packed enough it won’t be necessary, some of the trails like the Half Moon Valley Trail can be completed a little easier with a pair of snowshoes. It depends on how much snow has fallen of course, but if you’re set on getting out for a snowshoe, watch the weather forecast and strap on a pair after a storm when the snow is fresh!
RELATED: Don’t forget, it’s important to ensure you have the right gear for winter adventures! Check out my tips for staying warm when winter hiking, skiing, etc!
Fat Biking – It’s prime season for those chunky tires when the snow arrives! You can stick to the main service roads throughout the park or hop on the Maiden’s Blush Trail and park pathways for some fat biking fun.
Tobogganing – Grab your crazy carpets, tubes and toboggans and enjoy the thrill as you slide down the park’s impressive tobogganing hill! The views from the top are pretty spectacular too so it’s definitely worth the trek all the way up to the top.
Disc Golf – Yes, you can even try a round of disc golf in the winter months! If you don’t have your own, head over to the park store to borrow one during your visit.
Bronte Creek Camping
If you’re looking for a spot to go camping that’s close to Toronto then you should certainly consider the Bronte Creek campground! Open from May until October, there are four loops within the campground, all of which offer car camping. If you have a larger vehicle like an RV, your best bet is the Prairie loop. The Ravine, Savannah and Woodlands loops are all best for tent camping and trailers under 25 feet. It should also be noted that the Savannah loop is radio-free, meaning excessive noise and the use of speakers, instruments, etc is prohibited.
Bronte Creek Provincial Park also offers three yurts for rent in the Savannah loop. Each yurt has two sets of bunk beds and has the capacity to sleep up to six people. They have lights, electricity and electric heating as well as a table and chairs, broom and dustpan. Cooking is not allowed inside the yurts but you have the use of a propane barbecue, picnic table and fire pit to prepare your meals.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: As I mentioned earlier, Bronte Provincial Park camping has a separate entrance from the day use area and there is no connection to one another within the park. If you wish to enjoy the activities in the day use area, you’ll need to drive approximately 10 minutes to the other park gate.
Special Programs at Bronte Creek
One of the amazing things about Bronte Creek Provincial Park is that they have special events throughout the year. It’s an added perk and might be worth planning your visit around if any of the following programs tickle your fancy!
Family Day – Enjoy an outing with the family with hands-on activities, nature and heritage crafts, live animal visits and more.
Maple Syrup Festival – When the first Saturday in March arrives, that’s when maple season officially begins at Bronte Creek! Take a guided tour of Maple Lane and learn about the historical ways of collecting sap, indulge in a delicious pancake meal and more. The annual festival is open to the public from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm every weekend in March and during March Break.
Springtime on the Farm – On Victoria Day, celebrate spring the historical way! Head to the Spruce Lane Farmhouse and enjoy historical demonstrations, Victorian games, see the farm animals and more.
Ghost Walks – Bronte Creek Provincial Park gets a little spooky each Sunday in August! Experience the paranormal side of the 1899 farmhouse and learn about the strange customs Victorians had surrounding death. Tours are about 30 minutes long and while they are chilling, they are not meant to frighten or scare you.
Harvest Festival – Celebrate the start of the fall season on the fourth weekend in September! Pick and carve your own pumpkin, enjoy some themed eats and treats, hop on a pony or wagon ride and more.
Victorian Christmas – Bronte Creek really breaks out the yuletide cheer during the Christmas season! Enjoy the beautiful decorations as you learn about the traditions of the Victorian era.
Bronte Creek Park FAQs
Ready to plan your trip to Bronte Creek Provincial Park? That’s great news! Here are some frequently asked questions about the park as well as some things to know before you go.
Where is Bronte Creek Provincial Park?
Bronte Creek PP is located at 1219 Burloak Drive in Oakville. This is the main day-use gate and where you’ll find access to the majority of the trails, pool and other amenities.
If you are camping at Bronte Creek, there is a separate entrance located at 3201 Upper Middle Road West in Oakville. This is where you’ll check in and set up shop for your stay.
Is Bronte Provincial Park Free?
Bronte Creek Provincial Park is not free. The Bronte Creek Provincial Park entrance fee is $18.00 per vehicle to visit the park. Seniors 65 years of age and older and those with an Ontario Disability Permit have discounted Bronte Creek Provincial Park fees at $14.50 and $9.00 respectively. If you own an Ontario Parks pass, you can visit for day-use as often as you like! You can buy a pass at the park or on the Ontario Parks website.
However, you can visit Bronte Creek Provincial Park for free on Healthy Parks Healthy People Day. While dates vary from year to year, this typically happens on a Friday in mid-July.
When is Bronte Creek Open?
Bronte Creek Provincial Park hours fluctuate depending on the season however the park is open from 8:00 am until dusk. In the winter, this equates to 8:00 am until 6:00 pm.
What Can You Do at Bronte Creek Provincial Park?
As I’ve outlined in this post, there are plenty of things to do at Bronte Creek Provincial Park! Here’s a quick summary:
- Hike the 10+ trails in the park
- Check out the discovery programs
- Go fishing in Bronte Creek
- Swim in the Bronte Creek Provincial Park pool
- Cycle the trails on your bike
- Go birding
- Enjoy a game of disc golf
- Camp in a tent or yurt
- Enjoy one of the park’s special programs and events
Are Dogs Allowed at Bronte Creek?
Yes, you can bring your furry family member! Dogs are allowed in the camping area and they must be leashed at all times. There are two designated leash-free areas in the park where you can take your pup to run free and make new friends. However, the leash-free areas are not fenced so your dog must be well trained in order to utilize it.
What Else is There to Do Near Bronte Creek?
Well, lots! With Oakville and Burlington both close by, there are plenty of things to see and do. It’s actually quite easy to make it a weekend trip! Take a look at these great things to do in Burlington and you’ll see what I mean… so take a look and see what hotels are nearby.
Looking for More Provincial Parks to Explore? Check Out These Guides!
Killarney Provincial Park
Long Point Provincial Park
Mikisew Provincial Park
Oastler Lake Provincial Park
Rondeau Provincial Park
Short Hills Provincial Park
Silent Lake Provincial Park
Windy Lake Provincial Park