If you’re looking to do some hiking near Toronto, the hiking trails of Darlington Provincial Park are the best place to get outdoors this winter. Located just off Highway 401, and a few minutes from Oshawa, Darlington Park is a lovely winter destination to visit for the day.
I surprised my boyfriend to a little day trip to Darlington to experience the beautiful Canadian wilderness and wanted to point out the highlights from our trip & why we’d definitely come back!
If you ever get a snowy day, definitely bring your snowshoes to the hiking trails of Darlington Provincial Park! We brought snowshoes, but due to the warm weather we had in January, we only got to use them for a little bit.
Beautiful Wildlife & Nature
I’ve been hiking and camping in many provincial parks in Ontario, and all have unique characteristics to them all. One of the most beautiful moments I experienced at Darlington specifically, was having cute songbirds fly around us like a romantic Disney movie. I even had a few of them sit on my shoulder and even captured a photo of one of the birds landing on my cell phone while I was tweeting.
This moment reminded me of Snow White when she was singing and songbirds would dance around her. Both my boyfriend and I couldn’t believe what was happening. It was truly magical.
The songbirds were so eager to welcome us to their park and they sang with little chirps while they flew around us. Photos couldn’t really capture the moment but I did share a video of the moment on my Instagram! It was truly a fairytale moment I’ll never forget.
I’m not really into bird watching, but now I can understand why many come to witness the beautiful birds and the different ecosystems at Darlington Provincial Park. It’s an oasis of nature and worth visiting just for the cute hiking moments with your partner or family.
If you’re quiet and observant, you might be able to spot other wildlife such as:
- Northern Cardinals
- Blue Jays
- Cedar Waxwings
- Black-capped Chickadees
- and many more!
The Beach & Winter Hiking
Not only does this Park have plenty of tree-covered trails, but they also have a beach and picnic area. The fact that you can go for a beautiful hike and then end up on a beach in front of Lake Ontario is a highlight for me. I love walking along the long strip of beach on a sunny day, even if it’s winter.
If you walk down to the end of the beach, on a clear day, you can apparently see the CN Tower down the lake. We finished our day walking on the beach and got dark fast (thanks winter…), so we weren’t able to make our way all the way down to see the CN Tower. But next time, we’ll make sure to go a bit earlier!
For hiking lovers, Darlington has three easy hiking trails that I loved and were perfect for a walk in the wintertime.
Darlington Provincial Park Hiking Trail Options
- Burk Trail – 1.25 km (30 mins)
- McLaughlin Bay Trail – 1.5 km (1 hour)
- Robinson Creek Trail – 1 km (30 mins)
- Waterfront Trail – 2.6 km (1 hour)
If you want to hike or snowshoe in meadows with a historic pioneer cemetery and lookout point, walk the Burk Trail. If you are interested in marsh ecosystems and interested in spotting a great blue heron, hike the McLaughlin Bay Trail. The Robinson Creek Trail follows the creek and the closer you get to Lake Ontario, you’ll find the campground trails where you’ll find a beautiful bridge to walk across, as well as the trail to the beach!
Easy Escape From The City
Whether you live in Toronto or the surrounding GTA, an escape to nature is so important for everyone’s well-being. Re-connecting with nature, breathing fresh air and exercising is so important for me to live a happy life and for my mental health in the wintertime.
And visiting Darlington is the perfect opportunity to get outside and try some snowshoeing while still being close to the city and 401 highway.
The fact that you can drive less than an hour, with easy access off of the 401 highway, to reconnect with nature, is the biggest advantage of visiting Darlington Provincial Park. It’s so close, there are no excuses not to visit for a day to get some exercise and fresh air with a loved one.
It’s free to visit if you get dropped off or $3.00 per two hours of parking your car. You can also pick up a winter day-use vehicle permit so you can explore Darlington and other Ontario parks that are open all winter long.
Check out all the Winter Adventures to have at Darlington!