Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Kelso Conservation Area Review

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Estimated Drive time from Toronto: 1 hour
Map: Kelso Conservation Area

View Kelso Conservation Area in a larger map
Description: Have you ever driven west of Toronto on 401 highway and wondered what might be on your left? It looks like a ragged cliff coming out right on the side of the highway. That is the Kelso Conservation Area. If you have been skiing to Glen Eden then this seemed to me to be the same place. On one side you have a 35 ha water reservoir and on the other the view of Niagara Escarpment.

  • For children: There is a large sandy beach with shade up on the hill. I looked at google map before visiting Kelso, and seeing that the lake is relatively small, I thought that it may be warm. I was really disappointed about how cold the water was. Alright, it was not August, and we know that it takes a long time to warm up the water in Canadian lakes, but this is the feeling with which I left this conservation area. So, if you enjoy relatively warm water in the lakes, I would rather suggest Simcoe lake at Sibbald Point Conservation Area, or Rockwood Conservation Area.  One more thing to notice is that the sand is very tiny and the water gets dirty really quickly. There is not much else specifically for children in the area.
  • Hiking:Kelso is probably the hiking heaven for Torontonians. It is right next to Toronto and it has 16 km of hiking and mountain biking trails including connections to the Bruce Trail.We have not been brave enough to indulge ourselves with all the trails around as we were with a 3 year old son around, who got tired pretty quickly.

    For those with similar restrictions, you could probably make it up to the top of the hill of Glen Eden. You have to be extremely vigilant on top as there is no fence or anything around the escarpment. You may also have a good chance to see a rock climber making his way up the escarpment.
  • Fishing:Fish the reservoir for rainbow and brown trout, large and smallmouth bass, black crappie, yellow perch and pumpkinseed. Fish from shore or non-motorized boat. Paddle boats can be rented right at the park. Downstream from the dam, adult rainbow trout (steelhead) can be caught through late spring.
  • Photography: If you plan to stay on the beach only, there is little that you can shoot. Hiking will definitely open up a lot of opportunities for amazing shots. From the escarpment ragged cliff to wildlife photography and simply watching. Kelso is a great destination for an enthusiast photographer.
  • Camping: Only group campsites are available at Kelso. For more information visit the Kelso Conservation Area web site.
  • Picnicking: There are plenty of picnic tables both on the beach and up the hill closer to the parking lot. Many of the tables are in full shade. be ready to share the area with many unknown persons just like in most picnic areas. The picnic area seems to be relatively condensed, so the smoke from the neighbors barbecue may also barbecue your veggies :-)
  • Canoe rental: Canoe, kayak and paddle boats are available for rental locally. Check the Kelso web site for latest rates.
Verdict: Kelso is a great destination for hiking, mountain biking and wild life viewing. But in case you feel more like lying on the beach, then you should probably look into other options. The water seemed to be cold and relatively dirty.
  • Children:There is not much fun for children except splashing in the water on the patrolled beach, and hiking or biking with their parents.
  • Camping:Only group camps available. Giving the proximity to Toronto, probably few want to go camping there from Toronto.
  • Day trip:It is a very good trip for outdoors enthusiasts, photographers, hikers, mountain bike riders and probably rock climbers.

Official website:
Kelso Conservation Area for summer activities
Glen Eden for winter activities like snow tubing or skiing.

Do your own research:

Any comments, suggestions or questions, add in the comments area.