island lake conservation area

This breathtaking nature escape is just a short drive from Toronto

There's so much natural beauty to explore just beyond the city borders for those looking to escape to quieter pastures for a day. 

Island Lake Conservation Area is one spot, located only an hour from Toronto near Orangeville, that generously offers up striking waterfront views around a serene, and ever picturesque, lake. 

The 800 acres of forest, marsh, and meadow come complete with hiking, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, swimming, and wildlife watching, so it won't be hard to waste away a day here by the water. 

The most popular of the hikes in the area is the Vicki Barron Lakeside Trail that makes its way around the man-made Island Lake for about eight kilometres. 

The body of water was created in 1967 by two dams in order to hold and release water needed to dilute outflow from Orangeville's water pollution plant into the Credit River and Nottawasaga River

It'll take just about two hours to complete the entire loop, but a bit of extra time should be factored in for the various lookout points along the way. 

A series of wooden boardwalks and bridges lead around most of the lake, except for the most eastern corner where a blocked-off wildlife sanctuary is located.

You'll still spot a fair share of fish, waterfowl and turtles in the water during the hike though. 

You'll also pass by plenty of benches and prime picnic spots, as well as a waterfront amphitheater where outdoor weddings, yoga and theatre productions sometimes take place.

For those interested in a bit of paddling, canoe, kayak and paddleboard rentals are available for walk-ins and limited reservations

There are also two other trails in the area including a two-kilometre walk through a long-standing Maple-Beech forest where syrup production will be in full swing come winter.

The Memorial Forest Trail passes through a meadow where a memorial wall by dry stone waller Eric Landman can be found created in memory of his late wife. 

Make sure to adhere to current group limits during your visit, be careful to physical distance on the trails, and pick up after yourself when you're heading out to keep the area as beautiful as you found it. 

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