Getting out and enjoying nature is one of life’s greatest pleasures. A pleasure for which there are many health-associated benefits. Simply taking a leisurely stroll amongst the trees has been known to decrease stress, improve mood and increase happiness. After all, nature has a healing touch.
As we approach the tail end of summer, there is no time like the present to get out and enjoy our natural surroundings. Although this list is not comprehensive, here are some local wonders that showcase Durham Region’s beauty.
“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
—John Muir, Our National Parks
Lynde Shore Conservation Area, Whitby Ontario
Lynde Shore is a popular destination for young families, birdwatchers and photography buffs living in Durham Region and neighbouring communities. This 272-hectare conservation area includes Lynde Creek Marsh, The Waterfront Trail, Chickadee Trail and the Cranberry Marsh.
When you visit this conservation area the first thing you will probably notice is the abundance of wildlife. Common critters seen here include raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, bunnies, deer, waterfowl and a variety of local and migratory birds. As wildlife in this part of town is not especially people shy, so long as you are respectful, you can get up close and personal with the wildlife. Placing some seeds in the palm of your hand will soon have you feeling like a Disney character with Chickadees perching on your outstretched fingers for an afternoon snack.
Heber Down Conservation Area, Whitby Ontario
Heber Downs is a popular place for dog walkers, hikers, fishing and family picnics in Durham Region. Ranked number 2 on Trip Advisors “Things to do in Whitby” list, Heber Down makes a great day trip. This local 284-hectare beauty contains multiple walking trails, Devil’s Den Pond and a variety of greenery. Where Lynde Shore tends to be bustling with activity, Heber Down has a calm and serene feeling. If you are feeling leisurely, it is definitely the spot you want to be.
Darlington Provincial Park, Bowmanville Ontario
Despite living in Oshawa for just over 24 years, I had never ventured to our local Provincial Park until very recently. Now that I have finally seen it, I can’t say enough about this hidden gem! Darlington Provincial Park has 208.82 hectares of land for public enjoyment. It features trails, picnic tables, camping zones, fishing areas and a spacious beach where you can lounge, swim or stack stones. With a Park Store that sells ice cream and other nature necessities, this is a great family friendly location and is perfect for those of you looking for a longer excursion. With so much to do in one location, I guarantee you will want to spend some quality time exploring this park.
Stephen’s Gulch Conservation Area, Bowmanville Ontario
This conservation area bordering Stoper Creek offers 345 acres of picturesque scenery. Visitors can often be found biking or hiking Stephen’s Mill Trail, which winds through the conservation area. With a blend of deciduous and coniferous trees, the forest is a diverse piece of nature that is a treat to look at. The conservation area is open year round, though trails are not maintained during winter months.
Second Marsh Wildlife Area, Oshawa Ontario
The Second Marsh is connected to the Lake Ontario Waterfront trail and is comprised of several boardwalks, viewing platforms and trail systems. As its name suggests, this location does contain marshland and supports a diverse eco-system throughout the 400-hectare plot of land. The marked trails and informational signs that explain local species and their habitat make this a great location for education and outings with children. A popular stopover for migratory birds, birders can often be found enjoying the viewing platforms during migration seasons.
McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve, Oshawa Ontario
McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve is made up of a series of 11 trails that connect to the Second Marsh and Darlington Provincial Park. The 41 hectares of trails and viewing platforms are another popular destination for local bird watchers. This site hosts a wide variety of local plants and animals. Free to the public, this reserve is an ideal location for taking a relaxing walk or bike ride. With a rule that encourages you to avoid making excessive noise this seriesof trails is great if you simply want to listen, and enjoy, nature.
Whether you decide on a leisurely stroll, a bike ride or picnic under the trees there is no better time than now to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Before summer is over, I encourage all of you to take some time to enjoy some of Earth’s innate aesthetics. When planning your adventure, be sure to check out the locations’ website before visiting. This will give you an idea of what to expect, including any guidelines you need to follow, fees for entry or parking, and if there are any seasonal events or activities going on.
And above all else, enjoy it!