Dufferin County Forest

 

The County Forest is a jewel in the crown of Dufferin’s natural heritage. Spanning thirteen tracts and totaling 1,054 ha (2,606 acres), it is managed by the County on a sustainable, multi-use basis for erosion and water control, natural heritage protection, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and support of the rural economy through timber production and employment opportunities.

The County Forest came to be as the result of land clearing to facilitate farming in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The removal of the tree cover had far-reaching effects: without stabilization, the thin, sandy soils were eroded by wind and water. This made farming impossible. It is hard to imagine how bad the situation must have been to change the predominant land use culture from tree clearing to tree planting in the short span of roughly half a century. Since the first purchase of land in 1930, the Dufferin County Forest has been owned by the County of Dufferin, until 1995 it was managed by the provincial government on the County’s behalf. For the last 20 years, it has been managed by the County.

The forest is home to many recreational activities, ranging from hunting to forest bathing (the Japanese practice of mindfully experiencing the forest through all your senses) – best done in the absence of electronic devices!

Of particular interest are:

  1. The Little Tract (west side of Airport Road about 15 km north of Highway 89), where you can see the closest thing to old growth that the County Forest has to offer, along the approximately two kilometre long self-guided interpretive trail describing life in the forest (brochures available onsite).
  2. The Main Tract (east side of Airport Road about 10 km north of Highway 89) is 607 ha (1,501 acres) – a large forested area for southern Ontario all by itself, but in combination with surrounding public and private land is an area of over 1,050 ha (2,600 acres) of continuous forest cover. Make sure to bring a compass along so you don’t get lost. While you are there, check out the new interpretive trail that explains the basics of forest management in this part of Ontario (brochures available onsite).
  3. The Hockley Tract (south side of Hockley Road just east of Highway 10) has a fully accessible trail with informational signs. The trail links up with the Island Lake perimeter trail.

You are welcome to enjoy the many sights and sounds of the forest on your own time and at your own pace.

For those interested in adding an educational component to their forest experience, we organize several walks annually to engage, teach and entertain outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.

Tree Identification

May 26, 10 am

Little Tract, 938130 Airport Rd (west side, about 15 km north of Highway 89)
Having trouble telling the difference between ash and maple? Are the terms coniferous and deciduous a mystery to you? Join County staff to identify local native species of trees, shrubs, and a few plants on a walk through the Little Tract of the Dufferin County Forest. Cost: $10. Pre-registration required, spaces are limited to ensure a high quality experience for all participants.

Wildflower Identification

June 2, 10 am

Little Tract, 938130 Airport Rd (west side, about 15 km north of Highway 89)
Are trilliums the only wildflowers you can identify? And is that only because they are the provincial flower? Join local life-long (since she was five!) terrestrial and aquatic botanist Dawn Renfrew on a leisurely walk through the Little Tract of the Dufferin County Forest to identify spring wildflowers. Cost: $10. Pre-registration required, spaces are limited to ensure a high quality experience for all participants.

Loops & Lattes

July 29, 11 am

Main Tract, 937513 Airport Road (east side, about 10 km north of Highway 89)
Stroll along the new two kilometre interpretive trail at the Main Tract of the Dufferin County Forest with author Nicola Ross and County Forest Manager Caroline Mach. Join us afterwards at the MoD for coffee and treats and an opportunity to purchase a signed copy of Nicola’s most recent book, Dufferin Hikes, part of her Loops & Lattes series of hiking guides. While you’re at the Museum, plan to take in the onsite Mulmur Farmers’ Market.