One of our favourite provincial parks to visit is Bronte Creek Provincial Park. We recently published our review of the Bronte Creek campground (spoiler alert--it rocks!), but today we’re sharing a few cool things to do at Bronte that make us park regulars, whether we’re camping or not.
We mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: there are two sides to Bronte Creek Provincial Park. The day-use park is accessible year-round from Burloak Drive. The campground is open during the camping season and is accessible from Bronte Road. The creek runs between the two sides, and there’s no way to get over it. You need to drive from one side to the other.
Bronte Creek park outdoor activities
Bronte Creek is a little piece of wilderness in the middle of a densely populated urban area. So our number one reason to visit is to get outside and enjoy nature.
Bronte Creek is excellent for family hiking with a variety of trails suitable for all ages. On the campground side, the Gateway Trail is about 1.3 km, and the Field and Forest Trail is 2.2. There are lots of different access points, so you don’t need to commit to walking the full trail if you’ve got little legs with you.
On the day-use side, the Trillium Trail is a short hike at just over 1km and is stroller-friendly. In the spring, you’ll see a great display of flowers on this trail, including Ontario’s provincial flower, the white trillium.
The Half Moon Valley Trail is a bit longer at 2km and takes you right down to the shores of Bronte Creek. You can fish from here, in season. We tried this trail for the first time on our First Day Hike this year and enjoyed its little meandering loops down in the valley. It is a bit steep going down and up, but there’s a well-constructed staircase to help.
In total, there are about 10km of trails, including both sides of the park, and the hiking is great year-round.
When we first moved to the area, we used to cross-country ski at Bronte Creek. Unfortunately, our winters haven’t been cold or snowy enough to sustain snow for skiing in recent years.
There’s no beach at Bronte Creek, but you will find one of the largest outdoor pools in Canada. The pool is like a big lake, so you wade into the water instead of using a ladder. It’s not a wilderness experience, but it’s one of the park’s main attractions in the summer.
While your campground fee gets you into the day-use side of the park, there is an additional, nominal fee to use the pool for both day-use and campground visitors. We don’t mind paying it as it must cost quite a lot to operate this facility. Every time we’ve been there, the pool, change rooms and surrounding areas are super clean, and there are always lifeguards on duty.
Grassy hills surround the pool where you can set up your sun shade or blankets. You’re welcome to bring a picnic, although I believe they restrict glass bottles, or you can purchase the typical pool-side fare (think hot dogs and ice cream).
Outside the pool area, there are also lots of picnic spaces.
Bronte Creek Family and Children’s Programs
Most of the Ontario Parks we have visited have family or children’s programming, and Bronte Creek’s programs are some of the best we’ve seen.
If you’re camping, keep an eye on information posted at the gatehouse as there’s usually an evening program at the small outdoor amphitheatre, located just outside the Ravine and Woodlands camping loops. We have to give a big shout out to Andrew, one of the park staff who has been running these programs for years. He always plans an entertaining mix of music, costumes, dad jokes, and audience participation, with a wee bit of education thrown in for good measure!
On the day-use side, at parking lot F, Spruce Lane Farmhouse showcases what life was like for early settlers in the area. In the summer, it’s staffed with interpreters dressed in period costume, demonstrating things like churning butter and tending the gardens.
The farm itself has several barns, and you can check out livestock, including horses and cows.
At parking lot C, you’ll also find a lot to do. The children’s play barn is a great place for young kids to burn off some energy. There are more animals in the surrounding buildings, like goats, pigs, and rabbits. Then there’s the Nature Centre, an indoor space where there are hands-on activities to teach about flora and fauna of the area.
Bronte Creek park seasonal events
In addition to the summer park programming, Bronte Creek runs special events in both the day-use and campground sides of the park. Here are two of our favourites:
Maple Syrup Festival
The Maple Syrup Festival is a spring tradition, running weekends in March and during the March school break. You can learn about the history of maple syrup in this area and watch demonstrations, but most importantly, you get to eat it! There maple taffy, maple candy and, of course, pancakes with maple syrup.
Camper Halloween is what it sounds like: decorate your site for Halloween, then turn the kids loose to trick-or-treat around the campground. We’ve been doing this for years and our daughter, now 11, still looks forward to it every year. She might like it better than actual Halloween!
The staff at Bronte make this a great weekend with a spooky story campfire on Friday night, a site decorating contest and a post-trick-or-treating nighttime hike on Saturday night.
Book early as only two of the four camping loops are open for this event, and it fills up quickly. Remember, Ontario Park sites are reservable up to five months in advance.
These are just a few of our favourite things to do at Bronte Creek. There are lots of other activities, and the park team is always coming up with new ways to help locals and visitors get outside. We recommend giving the Bronte team a follow on Instagram @opbrontecreek or on the Bronte Creek Facebook page to stay up-to-date.