Hikes

Valens Conservation Area


Just the Facts about hiking Valens Conservation Area:

 main hike website
 google maps location
 hiking trails10 KM
 Distance to Toronto88 KM / 1.1 hrs


Valens Conservation Area - Sign By a traffic-induced twist of fate, we came to visit Valens Conservation Area .  Originally on our way (once again) to the Oak Ridges Moraine area, we were horrified by the already gruesome traffic heading eastbound across the city… despite it being only 1 o’clock in the afternoon.  So, we made a snap decision to head back home for a super-quick surf on the net for a new location.  Voila—Valens Conservation Area!  South of the city of Guelph , about 80 kilometres from Toronto , we found a veritable winter playground.

Valens boasts 10 kilometres of nature trails, a lake and year-round camping.  For a mere $28 per night (or $32 if you want to splurge for a serviced site), you can get a

taste of winter camping, complete with heated washroom facilities.  If you’re more of a daytime winter person, then it will cost you $8 a carload to enjoy an array of winter activities, including skating, snowshoeing, x-country skiing and hiking. Until very recently, fishing was a very popular area activity.  Due to conservation efforts to regenerate the fish population in the lake, fishing is temporarily out of the question.  The man-made lake was created in the 1960s when a dam was built on Spencer Creek to control floods in the Dundas area.  For the past 30 years, the lake has been a spring-time fish sanctuary that allows the panfish to repopulate in time for the summer fishing season.

Recently, Valens played host to an IceFest in mid-February that invited the young and old to partake of a catch-and-release fishing derby and the Ontario Pond Hockey Championships.  Ice huts were available to all but particularly appreciated by those derby participants that were in for the long-haul from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.   Only bluegill and crappies (aka panfish) were accepted in the derby and exchanged for tickets in order to accrue

Valens Conservation Area - Panorama of lake
credit for the catch.  Of course, since this was a catch-and-release derby, though they may have spent a bit of time in a bucket, all fish were released back into the lake.  Teams participating in the Pond Hockey Championships battled for the cup but it was “Cracked Ice,” a team from Stoney Creek that took the 2008 title.
Valens Conservation Area - small stram in wetlands

Though we’ve yet to experience a beautiful summer day at Valens, we could clearly picture the family picnic glory as we rounded the nature trails (sometimes shin-deep in snow).  Looking out over the lake, midway across the fishing bridge, it wasn’t not hard to imagine people frolicking in the water, bike riding along the paths, angling from shore, and barbeques blazing at one of the group pavilions or from any of the over 1000 picnic tables in the park.  Boat rentals are also available on the beach!  Swimming is said to be somewhat of a unique adventure in Valens since the lake water in the beach area is chlorinated.  By using a special screen, park staff can safely chlorinate the water in the swimming zone without contaminating the rest of the lake.   This park just screams out “family day”!

Overall, we were really impressed with the vast network of trails and the fact that washroom facilities were open (and clean) during the winter.  Though there were a few brave campers and a couple of other hikers, we felt that we had the park essentially to ourselves.  It was very refreshing to be out in the gorgeous late-winter weather communing with nature.  We might even make this our first winter tent camping experience--we’ll keep you posted!

Valens Conservation Area - dead standing trees
Valens Conservation Area - drowned forest tree stumps
The thing I liked best about Valens Conservation Area was the diversity. Inside our hour long walk, we saw fully forested areas, open scrubland, a lake, a swamp (or marsh?), streams, a dead forest (still standing!). This must have some great wildlife in the summer!
When we first looked across the lake, the left side had what looked like mud sticking up all over the place... but on closer inspection, it was a bunch of tree stumps.
For more information about Valens Conservation Area:

Address:

Valens Conservation Area

1691 Regional Road (R.R. #6)

Flamborough , ON

Brochure (especially handy in the winter months!)

http://www.conservationhamilton.ca/Asset/iu_files/ValensBrochure2008.pdf

Hamilton Conservation Authority Homepage (includes links to other areas to explore!):

http://www.conservationhamilton.ca/parks/visit/valens.asp