Today is Ontario’s Greenbelt 12th birthday and there are more than 1.8 million reasons to celebrate – literally! The Greenbelt permanently protects more than 1.8 million acres of farmland, forests, and natural areas across the Greater Golden horseshoe spanning from Cobourg to Niagara. To help you take in the best of the landscape, we’ve picked 12 amazing things to do and see in the Greenbelt.
1. Visit Ontario’s wine country. With more than 88 wineries in the region alone, Niagara is the Greenbelt’s wine capital. Many of the producers specialize in VQA wines (Vintner Quality Assurance) that are made exclusively with Ontario grown grapes, so raise a glass of Ontario’s finest to wish the Greenbelt a Happy Birthday!
2. Check out amazing Greenbelt Farmer’s Markets Get your fresh fruit and veggie fix, along with Ontario produced meats, cheeses and so much more! Meet and get to know your local farmer, support and eat local food and learn more about what’s in season.
3. Pick your own farms and orchards The Greenbelt has so many options – whatever you fancy, depending on the season. From apple orchards to berries, peaches to plums and pears, from veggies to nurseries with local Christmas trees, the Greenbelt has it all.
4. Get your foodie fix! Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea, you can enjoy fresh local treats in one of the Greenbelt’s quaint towns and villages. Try Pine Farm Orchard, a great little farm in King Township with a bakeshop and year round sit-down café, apple orchard, play area and farm animals for kids.
5. Take a spin on the Greenbelt’s cycling route Lush forests, sparkling rivers and welcoming communities await you in the Greenbelt’s beautiful, protected countryside. Enjoy the day exploring part of a 475 kilometre signed cycling route spanning from Niagara to Northumberland.
6. Visit the Iconic Holland Marsh Located just 40kms north of Toronto’s CN Tower, The Holland Marsh is one of Canada’s most intense agricultural areas. 125 farms grow 60 different crops on 7,000 acres of prime farmland. This special spot with its striking dark rich soil, just off highway 400, between King Township and Bradford West Gwillimbury is something to see. Get up close and meet the Marsh farmers and sample some wine from one of their newest wineries.
7. Hike the Greenbelt. Get outside in the fresh air and walk, hike, ski or snowshoe one of the Greenbelt Walk trails. Whether you’re exploring the Bruce Trail, Oak Ridges Moraine Trail or Ganaraska Trails, there is an option for every fitness level. Don’t forget to download the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation’s easy to use PDF guides before your hike. They contain maps, detailed directions and notes about the special local flora and fauna you will see along the way.
8. Spectacular waterfalls! Did you know that there are incredible falls in Hamilton, St. Catherines’ and Twenty Valley? In fact, Hamilton is known as the Waterfall Capital of the World, thanks to the Niagara Escarpment which runs through it, creating perfect conditions for over 100 majestic cascades. In St. Catherines, the Upper DeCew Falls is a large 22 metre plunge waterfall and the Lower DeCew Falls is a smaller 25 foot steep waterfall in a more wild and remote setting. And, Jordan Village along the Twenty Mill Creek Valley is home to Ball’s Falls Conservation Area where you can follow the trail and see the Upper and Lower Ball’s Falls. Prepare to be wowed!
9. Check out the wildlife. The Greenbelt is home to an incredible range of wildlife including 78 species at risk. As one of the province’s important ecological corridors, there is so much to see when you are walking, hiking or recreating in the Greenbelt. Grab your binoculars and head out into the countryside to catch a glimpse of rare hawks, owls, or even flying squirrels.
10. Sample maple syrup season. Spring is around the corner and with it comes the start of maple syrup season. The Greenbelt is a great place to share in the fun of maple tree sap tapping and maple syrup making. Many farms in the Greenbelt sugar off in early spring check out our list of places to visit here.
11. Be inspired by the Greenbelt. Visit the McMichael Canadian Art Collection gallery between March 1 to June 30, 2017 and take in the 20 award winning photographs from the 2016 Greenbelt Photo Contest which will be on display for all to enjoy.
12. Share the Greenbelt and help protect it for future generations. Watch and share internationally renowned spoken word artist Shane Koyczan’s slam poem on the importance of the Greenbelt. Use the hashtags #ShareYourVoice and #ONGreenbelt on social media to join the conversation about the importance of preserving the places we hold dear. The Greenbelt is stronger when we raise our voices to grow and protect it, helping to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.