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Cheltenham Badlands Bedlam

We stopped at a convenience store to pick up some sugary snacks for our mini-hike. As I passed the newspaper stand on my way out of the store I noticed that familiar, dusty, rolling red clay. There it was on the front page of today's Toronto Star - a large colour photo of people frolicking in Cheltenham's Badlands and we just happened to be on our way there.

Located not far north of Brampton, the Cheltenham Badlands are a vibrantly coloured and intricately contoured geological phenomenon. They're also a relatively short drive from Toronto and offer a unique viewing and hiking experience.

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Thanksgiving Monday was the perfect day for the family to head out of the city, breathe in some fresh air, and take in the turning of the leaves. Many people had the same scenic spot in mind (which would be the case with or without the Star feature).

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We parked on the side of the road and walked toward the trail head, side-stepping minivans and small droves of people making their way out.

The scene we arrived to was not far from bedlam - an erosion free-for-all of sorts. People were everywhere, and very few were taking into consideration the requests on the information signs at the trail head. Although the area is vulnerable to natural erosion, The Bruce Trail Association owns and vows to protect the Cheltenham Badlands. The signs inform us that human impact will quickly destroy the formations and ask that all visitors stay on the designated trails. As you can see, this clearly isn't information that's reaching visitors.

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The Badlands are crumbling. Do I want to see the area roped off? Not really. But without better marking of the walking trails and without making it clear to visitors that the red rolling hills are not to be trampled on, I fear that in just a few short years this amazing, beautiful, natural wonder will be no more.

Please do go and see the Badlands - they're stunning to look at. But please, please don't trample them!

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