For a family outing, Crawford Lake, west of Milton, offers several winter activities in a natural forest setting. It has a little bit of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing for beginners to try, plus scenic hikes to take in.
My intentions were to get out of the house and city with my family, after what seemed like weeks stuck at home with pandemic boredom.
Our visit to Crawford started with a hike around the small lake of the same name to warm up. A 1 km boardwalk path built on limestone boulders surrounds this body of water. It’s not a trail you can ski nor does it require snowshoes.
Next, we strapped on our skis and did the two small loops. These are not groomed and the snow was all tramped down by hikers; we saw no ski tracks to follow. After a snowfall would be better. We spotted numerous large wooden carvings of animals along the route.
The red 1.5 km Woodlands Trail is an easy, fairly flat trek on a wide path. The green Pine Ridge Trail, at 3.6 km was more enjoyable and scenic. It’s a moderate ski with a big hill (some may choose to walk), and a lookout. On the backside, through the trees, the cliff drops down to a quarry and mushroom farm.
We then trekked some of the brown 3.4 km snowshoe trail. It is laid out as a grid in between rows of evergreens—pleasant but monotonous. So we took on some other trails for hikers that led us to the cliffs and big boulders of the Niagara Escarpment.
The Bruce Trail passes through here connecting you to many more kilometres. (You might be wondering if you can Nordic ski them; I hear not very easily, if at all.)
I hesitated to post this location, as it would be not my first choice for exercise and training. This is not a place for serious Nordic action. Rather, it’s a convenient jaunt for casual skiers and a place to let the kids loose, close to home.
This conservation area is centred between Guelph, Cambridge, and the west side of Oakville and Mississauga, just south of Hwy 401, a mere 30-minute drive for many.
There is a visitor centre and an Iroquoian village to visit, and you can do more trekking at two similar parks that are close by: Hilton Falls and Mountsberg.
Currently, with Covid restriction issues, buildings may be closed and there are no snowshoe rentals this season. You also have to book a visit time online to get a park day pass.