Welcome back to another edition of Discover Ontario! Today I am going to take you through one of my favorite parks near home. As a travel bug and adventure lover, it sometimes gets hard deciding on which activity to do and which one to pass on. Should I go hiking or just relax by the beach, should I kayak or go searching for caves? What if I told you we can do all in one place? Exciting right?! Well, look no further as today’s destination offers all and more. I present you with Rockwood Conservation Area, I promise that you will fall in love with this place after taking a stroll with me on my journey there.
Rockwood Conservation Area is a part of the Grand River Conservation Authority which stands by its motto when they say “Nature. Next door…”. As I mentioned that it is close to my home in Toronto, the parks connected are also closely located in or around the large metropolitan areas. Rockwood is closely located to the city of Guelph and is easily accessible by car and even has a GO bus stop right outside the park. The park is packed with natural treasures, tons of activities and also holds a lot of history.
Initially, my partner and I planned on visiting the park to just get away from the city on a nice summer day and relax but were surprised at the number of things to do in the park.
We started our day at the park by exploring one of the iconic sites at the park, the remnants of Harris Mill Ruins also known as Rockwood Woolen Mills. What once used to be a famous woolen mill in the early eighteen hundred, now remains a historical yet beautiful site. A little walk down history lane will show you that the mill was widely known from Guelph to Georgetown as it supplied quality artisan goods as well as Canadian army blankets during the World War 1. The ruins are a great site for the history buffs as it has a magical feel of the early times. The Harris Mill Ruins is also very widely known now for its picturesque looks as it provides a great backdrop for photographers.
The place is definitely quite famous for wedding and engagement photography. We could not help ourselves and took some nice photos of ourselves while we explored the ruins.
After taking photos and the walk down history, we set on a hike. There are two main hiking trails in the park that go around the sides of the Eramosa River. The hike itself is a great display of history as it is etched into the limestone cliffs. This is when we noticed a group of people on a canoe next to the cliff towers in the river and got too excited to get into the water ourselves.
Rockwood conservation area offers boat rentals which include kayaks and canoes. We could not wait any longer and hoped onto a kayak ourselves. It was magnificent as the scenery made us feel like we were transported somewhere exotic instantly. We paddled around islands with towering limestone cliffs. It was exciting and really adventurous as we floated through narrow channels in the Rockwood reservoir. The park also allows the public to bring their own watercraft as well.
As we came out of the kayaks, we felt like we didn’t get enough of the water. At this time, it was quite sunny and warm which gave us more reasons to want to return to the water. So, we got into our swimsuits and went in for a dip in the water. The water was soothing and really clean and of course, the best part of it was the sandy beach connected to it where we spent a lot of our time just relaxing on our beach blanket. The crowd around the beach was not much but a fun crowd for sure as there were people enjoying music and a nice picnic. There is ample amount of picnic space with the permission to have a barbeque as well on designated spots.
After some time at the beach and having lunch we felt like we needed to explore this beautiful park a little more. So, we went on another hike and we were not disappointed. We found out the park features a series of caves and glacial potholes. Potholes may remind you of bumps on roads which are not pleasant but these ones are different. These potholes were formed when stones got caught in water swirls over eleven thousand years ago. Some of the pothole walls have now caved in creating large semicircles that are an astounding view. The potholes in Rockwood vary in sizes and also have a few of the largest in the world. This along with the limestone cliffs make Rockwood Conservation Area a great spot for special geology program.
Wait, have I told you about the caves yet? Those surely were very interesting and in addition to the geological wonders of Rockwood. As we did not have much time before sunset, we did not attempt at going too deep into the caves. But it was a nice sight to see regardless and there was a cold breeze going on in the caves too which cooled us down from our hike. On the hike, we also got to see a series of nature’s beauty as we passed by tall cedar trees, the Rockwood Falls and walls of limestone rocks.
There was a long and stunning wooden walkway/boardwalk in between the lake and the forest which made our hike even more fun and my partner had to do some monkey business.
We ended our day with an impressive colorful sunset by the river and watched the sun disappear behind limestone cliffs. We enjoyed every minute of our day there and it quickly became a spot that I could not wait to go back to. Currently, as I write this blog at home in the midst of winter days, I am slowly becoming impatient to return to the natural wonder. In addition to all the activities, the park offers fishing which is what I am looking forward too. For lovers of fishing, there is a presence of a variety of fish such as carp, bullhead, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, brown trout and rainbow trout.
Oh, and camping! Yes, the park offers overnight camping as well as about 46 serviced campsites which include electricity and water. There are also 43 more campsites that do not have service and give you a rawer camping experience.
There you have it! I can see you already going to the Grand River Conservation Authority Website to book your campgrounds. Don’t forget to check all their other information available on the website as well including directional instructions and operating hours. The Rockwood Conservation Area is most definitely a highly recommendable destination for me as I promise you will spend a beautiful time exploring the park.
You will be hearing from me again in about this park soon as a summer adventure is in order and I will have to update this post when I go again! See you again soon on my next journey, till then keep traveling and adventuring!!!
Which part of the area was your favorite spot? Mine was definitely the ruins.