Discover the natural beauty and cultural history of trails in Simcoe County. Whether you are an expert or a beginner, there is a trail for you! You can hike, bike, ski, snowmobile, horseback ride, and more. There are over 110 km of Trans Canada Trail open for use in Simcoe County plus trails in abandoned rail lines, and in our county forests.
The following is a list of some trails in Simcoe County. For information on trail etiquette, Simcoe County Forest Recreation Policy, invasive species and safety tips, scroll down the page.
County Forest Recreational Policy
Established in 1922, the Simcoe County Forest (SCF) has become the largest municipally owned forest in Ontario. There are currently over 130 individual tracts of forest covering more than 32,000 acres. These forests provide a host of environmental, social, and economic benefits to the County including protection of wildlife habitat and water resources, public education and recreation, scientific research and the production of wood products. County Forests also provide for a range of recreational pursuits for County residents and tourists alike.
The recreation policy and associated by-laws are posted on the County's website at www.simcoe.ca/forestry. The policy is in place to ensure that all responsible users of the forest are able to continue to enjoy their recreational pursuits.
Recreation Policy Summary
- Walking, hiking
- Cross country skiing, snowshoeing, dogsledding
- Geocaching, orienteering and nature appreciation
- Mountain biking, horseback riding
- Dog walking - pets must be under control or on a leash at all times.
- Off-road vehicles are permitted only with a valid permit on designated trails.
- Hunting is permitted in accordance with provincial regulations to members of the OFAH except on tracts which are in closer proximity to urban areas. The list of these properties can be found on the forestry website.
Activities NOT Permitted:
- Operation of unauthorized motor vehicles.
- Open fires, camping, and consumption of alcohol.
- Littering, dumping or disposal of any foreign material, including yard waste.
- Cutting, pruning, digging or gathering of trees, shrubs, groundcover or firewood.
- Target practice, paintball.
- Construction of unauthorized structures.
- Placement of unauthorized signs or permanent tree stands.
Enjoy your visit to the Simcoe County Forest. Please respect the environment, other users, and neighbouring properties. All designated trails are maintained by volunteers. Please consider supporting a local club.
Local Club Directory:
- Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association
- Simcoe County Mountain Bike Club
- Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs
- Central Ontario ATV Club
- Simcoe County Off Road Riders Association
Invasive species are those plants and animals that are not only 'non-native' to their new home but also those that have an ability to out compete native vegetation and really 'invade' an area. The most concerning issue with these invasive species is their ability to disrupt ecosystems and their natural functions due to a lack natural controls in their new homes.
Trail users should be reminded that their activity could move seeds or fragments of the plant, starting new colonies. To prevent this from happening always stay on the established trail, and clean mud off pets, footwear, and equipment before leaving, or in a safe location before venturing into any natural area.
More information about invasive species can be found through the Ontario Invasive Plant Council at www.ontarioinvasiveplants.ca.
Giant Hogweed is an invasive plant which is of particular concern to trail users as its clear sap can cause painful blistering and dermatitis if it contacts skin or permanent blindness if the sap comes in contact with the eyes. If you think you have come into contact with this plant:
- Cover up affected areas and keep them out of direct sunlight.
- Wash affected areas immediately with soap and cold water.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
You may see Giant Hogweed on the trails of Simcoe County. If you do, make sure that other trail users in your group know to avoid the plant. While there are some similar looking native species which are harmless, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Leaves of three, let them be…
Poison ivy grows vigorously throughout much of Simcoe County. It is a woody vine that is well-known for its ability to produce urushiol, a skin irritant that may cause an itching rash for some people. To humans, poison ivy can be poisonous year round, including the berries in the winter.
It usually grows as a groundcover 10-25 centimetres (4-10 in) high or sometimes as a shrub up to about 1.2 metres (4 ft) tall. The leaves are compound with three almond-shaped leaflets, giving rise to the mnemonic, "leaves of three, let it be".
The colour of the leaves ranges from light green (usually the younger leaves) to dark green (mature leaves), turning bright red in the fall. The leaflets are 3-12 cm long, rarely up to 30 cm. New leaves are shiny, older leaves are duller. Some leaves are notched. Some leaves are not. When poison ivy grows near the beach it tends to have curly, waxy looking leaves. The berries (actually drupes) are a grayish-white colour and are a favourite winter food for some birds and deer.
For more information, see www.poison-ivy.org.
Dog-Strangling Vine threatens our natural ecosystems by forming dense colonies which "strangle" other plants and small trees. It also interferes with reproduction of Monarch butterflies. Dog-Strangling vine is very difficult to eradicate once established, so prevention is key.
Garlic Mustard can quickly invade and dominate the forest floor, limiting or eliminating the growth of native species such as trilliums and other spring ephemerals.
Trail systems can be a major vector in its spread through a natural area. Many garlic mustard infestations have been observed near parking areas and trail access points. It is apparent that garlic mustard seeds are inadvertently being carried by trail users along the trail system and being introduced to previously unaffected areas.
Be Safe, Be Seen
Safety tips for trail users during hunting season:
Trail users and hunters alike enjoy time in the forest. Particularly in the fall during the deer rifle season, non-hunters should be aware that hunting may be taking place in county forests, conservation areas and crown land, as well as on private land, with the permission of the property owner.
The following are some common sense 'Be Safe, Be Seen' precautions for non-hunters during hunting seasons:
- Be aware that hunting may be taking place; know the seasons, dates, and locations.
- Avoid dawn and dusk, and anytime visibility is limited.
- Wear hunter orange (hat, vest, scarf, etc., also on your pet!) and avoid beige, brown, white, red or green clothing.
- Keep your pet on a leash.
- Stick to established trails (hunters typically know where the trails are).
- Hike in a group or with a buddy (hunters will hear you coming!).
- And as always, let someone know where you are going, and when to expect you back.
Hunting season information is posted on the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry website at: www.ontario.ca/ministry-natural-resources-and-forestry
Note also that municipalities may prohibit the discharge of firearms in some areas, and also may pass by-laws to allow hunting on Sundays. Some conservation areas have posted hunting information on their website.
People planning to visit forests or conservation areas should take the above "Be Safe, Be Seen" steps to have a safe and enjoyable experience.