Shade's Mills Conservation Area

Location: Cambridge, Ontario
Region: Southwestern
Character: Day-use

Shade's Mills Conservation Area
By Grand River Conservation Authority

Shade's Mills has been called the best-kept secret in Cambridge. Favourite activities in this day-use area include swimming, sport fishing and canoeing. The conservation area has 12 km of hiking trails through a mature hardwood forest that winds along Mill Creek. There is good fishing for northern pike, perch, largemouth and smallmouth bass in the 32-hectare (80 acre) reservoir behind Shade's Mills dam. It is open for cross country skiing and ice fishing during the winter.

450 Avenue Road
Cambridge, ON N1R 5S4
Approximate latitude 43 22' 56 N
Approximate longitude 80 8' 52 W
Print a map and directions

E-mail conservation area staff or phone (519) 621-3697

0pen 8 a.m. to sunset daily from the last Friday in April to the Sunday following Thanksgiving, and during the winter for ice-fishing and cross country skiing if conditions allow. During the winter, the park closes at 4:30 p.m.

Special Notices
Alcohol is NOT permitted at this conservation area
There is NO beach patrol at GRCA conservation areas. Children are the responsibility of the parents/guardians/adults.

The lake is ideal for canoeing and non-motorized boats. Canoes can be rented with a credit card imprint for damage deposit. Rentals are available during the week and on weekends from gatehouse staff. Check the fee schedule for rental fees.

Northern Pike, Largemouth bass, Smallmouth Bass, Yellow Perch, and Black Crappie are all plentiful in Shade's Mills Reservoir. Good fishing spots are anywhere along the shore (away from the swimming area), around the islands, and up Mill Creek. Worms are for sale at the gatehouse during gatehouse hours. Fishing from the Head Office shore and the dam is restricted.
Shade's Mills also has ice fishing in winter when conditions allow. Ice huts are available, but not bait. Popular spots are around the islands. Regular park entry fees apply. Check the Newsroom during winter for the winter activities update. Please contact the conservation area for hours of operation.

There are 12 kms of trails for cycling and hiking.

There are 12 kms of trails for cycling and hiking.

A 220-metre sandy beach area is on the reservoir and an ideal place to cool off on hot days. The beach is not patrolled, so parents or guardians must keep a close watch on children at all times.
A life-jacket loaner program is available. Use of the life-jackets is free with a small, refundable deposit. Ask at the gatehouse for information.
Water quality is tested weekly during the summer.

Picnic tables are scattered throughout the conservation area and waste bins are provided.

Winter activities
Eight and a half kilometres of cross country ski trails and a 2.5 km snowshoe trail loop around the 420-acre mature hardwood and pine plantations when conditions allow. Ski equipment can be rented for $13 a set and are available on weekends and daily during March break, but call ahead for other weekdays. Hot drinks and food are available on weekends.
Shade's Mills also offers ice fishing when conditions allow. Ice huts are available but not bait. Popular spots for ice fishing are around the islands. The regular park entry fees apply. For hours of operation during the winter please contact conservation area staff.

This is the location of the lost and found and it is the place to go to report problems or concerns, or get further information about the conservation area.

Group facilities
Five group areas are available to rent and are ideal for corporate, church and family picnics, but they are often booked well in advance, so please contact the conservation area early to reserve. These range from an enclosed shelter with a kitchen that is fully serviced to three shelters and a picnic area. All but the Pines picnic area have large barbecues located right beside them.

Along with three vault type toilets which are located throughout the conservation area. There is also a main washroom equipped with flush toilets. A pop machine is located outside the washroom.

Sports and fun
These include a beach volleyball court and open areas for picnicking and games. A nine-hole disc golf course is available for use free of charge.

Boat Launch
A launch is available.

Dog Policy
Pets are welcome in the conservation area but they must be leashed and under control at all times. Pets are not allowed on the beach or in the swimming areas. Owners are asked to "stoop and scoop". There is a fine for not obeying these regulations.

Lots of shopping is located nearby, including over 30 factory outlets as well as in historic downtown Galt.
The nearest hospital emergency is Cambridge Memorial Hospital, 700 Coronation Blvd, Cambridge.