Shade’s Mills Conservation Area

Shades_Mills_swamp_Flower
We have a very unique cat who we believe does not realize that he is indeed a cat. His name is Shade and perhaps that is why we were initially attracted to Shade’s Mills Conservation Area. Of course, it could also be because we travel the 401 an awful lot as we visit family that live in various cities along our version of a superhighway and we see all of those helpful conservation area signs at the exits!
On our way back to Mississauga after an Easter weekend spent with my family in London , we decided to veer off the highway to check out Shade’s Mills. Of course, after finding our way through Cambridge and finally arriving at the main gate, we found it still

closed for the season. So, on the first Saturday of the new season, we got in a nice hike at Cambrigde’s “best kept secret.”

This is a multi-use area that offers swimming, sport fishing, canoeing, paddle boating, and hiking. In the winter, you can enjoy cross-country skiing and ice fishing. Shade’s also has plenty of space for family or company picnics and has installed shelters that you can rent. They also offer a disc golf course in the picnic zone (you can pick up the discs at the gatehouse).

Even though we pulled in about three hours before closing time on its first weekend, we were still pretty surprised to see no other car in the parking lot and only one other person (and their dog) along the trails. We’re thinking that this probably isn’t the norm during the warmer, sunnier and less wet months of July and August. We followed the Toyota Trail along the river and across the footbridge to the other side of the conservation area. The trail map came in handy after we decided to take a side-trail only to find our planned return route inundated by the overflowing lake. So, rather than wade back towards whence we came, we opted for an alternate route along the well-marked trail (i.e., there is actually a marker that says “EXIT” and points you in the right direction!)
Shade’s Mills Sign Trilliums Of special note was the largest number of trilliums that I have ever seen in my life! There are quite beautiful and seem to come in purple and even with a green stripe too. As we meandered along the trail, we admired a number of local plants that could only be described as downright tropical, despite the climate that they actually live in (see photos). That is on our “to learn” list for this summer— study up on our local botany so that we can actually identify and comment upon the stunning array of plant life that we come across on our hikes.

Of special note was the largest number of trilliums that I have ever seen in my life! There are quite beautiful and seem to come in purple and even with a green stripe too. As we meandered along the trail, we admired a number of local plants that could only be described as downright tropical, despite the climate that they actually live in (see photos). That is on our “to learn” list for this summer— study up on our local botany so that we can actually identify and comment upon the stunning array of plant life that we come across on our hikes.

If you enjoy fishing, apparently this is the place to be! They even have fishing platforms along the Toyota trail, right at the edge of the river, for those who wish to take a seat and fish for the afternoon.

Alternately, canoes can be rented at the gatehouse ($12/hour) and you can enjoy a cool swim at the beach. Overall, this Conservation area definitely seems to be a nice place to take a quick stroll or spend a day with the family.