Kortright Centre for Conservation is one of the main attractions of Vaughan. According to the trail guide of the York Region, the 324 hectares of land features “forests, meadows, streams, ponds, marsh and river habitats with abundant wildlife.” The conservation centre has eight trails which covers 16 km in length. Three of these trails are labelled as easy and the rest are slightly difficult. All of the trails are connected, therefore, visitors can pick between a long walk or a short walk any time they reach a connecting point.
“None of our trails are particularly difficult,” said Heather Stafford, education and training coordinator at Kortright. “I think any family would be able to go on the majority of our trails.”
Some portions of the trails are paved whereas other sections are flat with limestone screening, which makes it easier to push wheelchairs and strollers. There are also forest trails which have dirt paths consisting of tree roots and rocks. The difficulty level of the trails varies depending on the person walking them. For example, the Maple Syrup trail has a steep hill, so it is difficult for someone who does not like slopes. However, the trail is paved so people can easily go down with strollers and wheelchairs.
Lookout Trail is Stafford’s favourite. She encourages people to start with it if they are new to trail walking. The first part of the trail is a tree walk. People can pick a book called Maria’s walk from the visitor’s centre and use this guide to search for the labelled tree on the trail. This trail has tall trees which protect visitors from the harsh weathers like rain and hail.
The trail ends with a look out where “you can look at Humber River and the forest, it's really pretty,” Stafford said. “Then you can circle back and do a fairly short walk, or you can join up with our Forestry Trail and do a longer loop.”
Innovation Trail is her second favourite. This trail is unique because it has windmills and solar panels. “I really like the trail because it goes through different habitats,” she said. It goes through a forested area, a planted forest area, and Meadow areas.
Stafford says Kortright is open throughout all the seasons. However, her favourite seasons at Kortright are spring and fall because you can see wildflowers during the spring and beautiful fall colours in autumn. Summer is also beautiful, she says. In the winter, people can attempt cross-country skiing and practice snow shoeing.
Tics are a concern if you go in a natural area in Southern Ontario. Stafford encourages people to dress appropriately. She says to be fully covered in light colours, apply bug-spray, wear closed toed shoes and stick to the middle of the trail. You should also come prepared for the weather and bring umbrellas, wear water-proof shoes and dress in layers.
The trails have two access points: Pine Valley Drive and a point between Rutherford and Major Mackenzie. The admission fee for adults is $8.50.
Writer's Note: My fellow writer Katia Sist and I walked on the Forestry Trail right after it rained. Our shoes got damaged in mud. Therefore, it is important to have water-proof footwear.