Long Sault Conservation Area
|Location:||Clarington Township, Ontario|
Winter Fun at Long Sault Conservation Area
By David Richardson
With winters in Southern Ontario becoming increasingly unpredictable and unreliable for a good amount of snowfall it can be hard to stay motivated to pursue outdoor activities for several months of the year. Getting outside has many benefits like keeping us healthy and giving us a greater appreciation of nature and the cycle of life. Getting out of the house or the office in the winter is obviously very important to keeping a better quality of life so finding that activity that keeps you hungry for the outdoors is also very important. Skiing and snowshoeing are two terrific hobbies that provide a great deal of exercise and the chance to experience inspiring wildlife and the natural world. The only problem we have to figure out is when the snow finally does fall, where are we going to go to satisfy that craving for the outdoors? If your home is in Durham Region there are several choices and finding that little known piece of nature that offers the perfect way to get out of the in the winter months can be just what the doctor ordered to make it through the cold weather. Long Sault Conservation Area is one of those places.
Long Sault is a great place to visit any time of the year but in winter it becomes a natural playground for anyone wanting to go cross country skiing or snowshoeing. The largest conservation area under the authority of C.L.O.C.A. (Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority) and situated in the rolling hills of the Oak Ridges Moraine, many visits can be made to this area without getting bored of it. The area is almost 400 hectares in size and has 18 kilometers of marked trails. The trails are surrounded by mature forests and other types of habitats and vary in level of difficulty and distance so it's a great spot for everyone to enjoy. A nice feature of Long Sault is that the trails are signed in a way that make ski traffic and foot traffic travel in opposite directions which makes it safer when ascending and descending the steeper hills that may have blind corners. These signs should be followed since skis don't make very much noise and if you're walking down a hill on the crunchy snow you and the skier behind you don't want to find out about each other when it's already too late to stop. Another thing to consider when visiting this or any other area is to try to keep any established ski tracks in good usable shape by hiking or snowshoeing off to the side of the trail. After all next week you could be the one on skis.
It is important to mention that there are no rental facilities at Long Sault so be sure to bring all your own gear. With the popularity of these winter sports on the rise many excellent deals on ski or snowshoes can usually be found and having your own just opens up more freedom of places to go and use them. There is also a very small fee for use of the area so be sure to take along some loonies and townies. This fee can be paid right at the parking lot to an automated machine that gives you a ticket to display on the dash of your car.
Even without all the physical and mental health benefits, being in the outdoors is time I cherish greatly and I can't seem to get enough of it. After spending part of the winter with warmer temperatures that just seem to bring rainy weather, mucky muddy trails and general lack of ambition I just can't help but wish for lots of snow to fall so I can get out and play in it. Next time there's a good amount of snow on the ground, I myself may head to Long Sault Conservation Area to leave a few tracks from my snowshoes or my skis behind. Maybe I'll see some of your tracks in the snow there too.
Long Sault Conservation Area
By Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority
Nestled in the heart of the provincially significant Oak Ridges Moraine, Long Sault Conservation Area is the largest Area owned and managed by the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority. Once part of the Agreement Forest program operated by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Long Sault Conservation Area now includes close to 400 hectares of mature forest, plantation, wetland and meadow. The area is considered an important core wildlife area because of the diversity and size of habitats that it contains. This Conservation Area also includes headwater tributaries that are an important part of the Bowmanville/Soper Creek Watershed.
Much of Long Sault Conservation Area's natural beauty can be seen from any section of the more than 18 km of marked trails that wind throughout the property. With trails that range in difficulty from gently sloping straight trails, to technical rolling and quickly turning trails, Long Sault Conservation Area is a favourite destination for many outdoor enthusiasts looking to pursue a number of different recreational activities.
Pay and Display Parking is in effect at a cost of:
Max. - $5/ vehicle/day or $2/hour.
HIKING: With over 18 km of trails spread out over five different loops, most hikers will not get tired of coming back to Long Sault Conservation Area over and over again. The trails at Long Sault Conservation have been designed and signed so that hikers travel in the opposite direction of mountain bikers/cross-country skiers. Please look for the direction of travel on trailhead signs and on trail posts. During the cross-country ski season, hikers are asked to stay off the established cross-country ski track by only traveling along the side of the trail.
Long Sault Conservation Area can also be used as a jump off point for hiking along the Oak Ridges Trail. Accessible from the main parking area, the Oak Ridges Trail uses part of the trail network within Long Sault Conservation Area. Follow the Oak Ridges Trail signs and blazes that can be found along the designated route.
PICNICKING: Several picnic tables are located in the cleared area adjacent to the main parking lot. No bookings are required for the use of these picnic tables.
PET POLICY: Pets are permitted within Long Sault Conservation Area. Please clean up after your pet, and keep them on a leash (maximum 2 m long) at all times. Pet owners violating these regulations will be fined.
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: Cross-country skiing can be enjoyed on all of the trails (over 18 km) at Long Sault Conservation Area. Please follow the direction of travel indicated for skiers (opposite to hikers) on the trailhead signs and trail posts. Please be aware that the ski trails at are not groomed and that skiing equipment cannot be rented at the Conservation Area.
MOUNTAIN BIKING: All trails at Long Sault Conservation Area are now open to mountain biking (the Eastern Bluebird Trail is open to mountain biking on a trial basis). Mountain bikers are asked to follow the direction of travel for mountain biking (opposite to hikers) that is indicated on the trailhead signs and trail posts. Mountain bikers are also asked to please reduce their speed when traveling around tight turns and when cycling down steep sections.
SNOWSHOEING: Snowshoeing is permitted on all of the trails at Long Sault Conservation Area. Please snowshoe in the direction of travel posted for hikers (opposite to skiers) and stay off the established cross-country ski track by only traveling along the side of the trail. Please note that snowshoeing equipment cannot be rented at the Conservation Area.
DOG SLEDDING: Dog sledding may be permitted at Long Sault Conservation Area. Please contact the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority for further information if you would like to carry out dog sledding activities within Long Sault Conservation Area.
WILDLIFE VIEWING: Long Sault Conservation Area is a great place to see and hear many different bird species. Because of its large size and diversity of habitat, you never know what you are going to see when you are at Long Sault Conservation Area. Please report sightings in our Species Sightings database.
NATURE STUDIES: Because of Long Sault Conservation Area's large size (close to 400 hectares) and diversity of vegetation communities (forest, woodland, swamp, marsh, thicket, plantation and meadow), this is a great area to carry out your studies on a variety of topics. Please apply for a Sensitive Areas Permit if you would like to venture beyond the designated trail system and activity areas.
Season of Operation
This conservation area is open year round.