Kortright Centre for Conservation
Run by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority, this 324 hectare package of beautiful woodlands that are filled with a variety of bird and other wildlife, is right in the centre of an area that is brimming with new homes and construction projects. Even though Kortright’s neighbours are right on impinging on its borders, you would think that you were out in the country somewhere, far from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Kortright is a very special place that all of GTA residents should visit at some point in their lives. Many Toronto area children will experience this centre through educational programs when they come for a fun-filled day of learning about sustainable living, weather, aboriginal arts and lifestyle, and to enjoy winter activities. Kortright also offers
30 sustainable technology workshops for the public.
The Kortright Centre (in collaboration with the TRCA) hosts special weekend events all year-round. For instance, on February 2nd and 3rd your family could enjoy a Winter Fun Festival, featuring dog sled races. Routinely throughout the winter months, the TRCA offers interpretive, hands-on workshops such as “Paw Prints” at a variety of different locations that invites participants to learn how to recognize animal tracks. Another regularly scheduled workshop is “Hoot and Howl,” wherein participants (literally) enjoy a night full of hooting and howling in an effort to get owls and wolves to hoot and howl back!
Families are also invited to Kortright to enjoy a Maple Syrup Dinner by lamplight on March 29th from 6 p.m. to 9p.m. For a full-schedule of workshops, you can visit the TRCA calendar.
Though I had brought several classes to the centre for field trips, and Rob and I attended a wedding at the centre last summer, we’d never actually had the opportunity to go hiking together on one of the numerous trails on-site! There are 16 km of trails winding their way through marshland and woodland at Kortright. This is a pretty popular hiking spot, even in the winter months, due to the mostly level hiking terrain (making for a very family-friendly environment). The Marshland Trail can still be quite icy and slippery despite lack of snow in other parts of the centre and city at-large, so use extra caution when walking close to the water and on the boardwalks. The Power Trip Trail is also a popular hiking route and highlights demonstrations of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies.
We seem to be getting into birdwatching lately and have been gearing our hiking choices towards centres that are rumored to boast a lively bunch of birds. Though Kortright is home to three kinds of woodpeckers, chickadees and other birds, we weren’t very lucky on our overcast afternoon. We did get a pretty good show from one downy woodpecker and a few chickadees let us take a couple of pictures of them but overall, the birds were not overly friendly.
At the end of your hike, be sure to stop in at the Visitors’ Centre to check out their gift shop (full of plenty of outdoorsy goodies) and to look around at the array of information that is posted on their walls. Even the washrooms provide for an educational experience, as you learn all about how they reuse and naturally treat the water that is used in their toilets! There is also a little snack shop if you’re feeling thirsty or peckish at the end of your hike.