With a park in almost every town, you can spend endless hours taking in Middlesex’s breathtaking beauty. You choose your mode of discovery - by foot, bike, boat, snowshoe or skis and Middlesex County will provide you and generations to come an alluring place to discover.
The Ausable River flows through much of Northwest Middlesex and is one of the most biologically diverse rivers in Canada. The river runs through a forested corridor with Carolinian species such as Black Maple, Eastern Flowering Dogwood, Chinquapin Oak, and Sycamore follows the winding valley for about 15 km.
The Ausable River has carved a dramatic and steep-sided gorge and valley near the village of Hungry Hallow, but due to its ruggedness and inaccessibility, the 19-km gorge and its picturesque waterfalls, is one of the largest river valleys remaining in a natural condition in the region.
There are sections of the Ausable River that is easy to access, allowing visitors a place to fish, canoe or hike along.
Dorchester Mill Pond
The Dorchester Mill Pond is a beautiful Carolinian forest, including black cherry and white oak. The Dorchester Mill Pond is also home to many different species of birds and mammals including cottontails, raccoons and white tail deer. The pond itself boasts beautiful yellow water lilies and is inhabited by waterfowl, turtles, bass, and even beaver - a rarity in Southwestern Ontario. You can start your hike from the parking lot off Mill Road and stroll around the entire perimeter of the pond along the established nature trail and over wooden walkways and bridges. Enjoy the panoramic view from the lookout deck on the east side or perhaps see flocks of Canada geese land on the water as you watch from the unique wooden bridge at the south end of the pond.
The Dorchester Swamp, part of the Provincially-recognized Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, offers a variety of microclimates and moisture conditions and is home to many rare plants and birds. The diverse plant communities include: mixed swamp forest, bog, shrub thicket, upland forest. The Dorchester Swamp also contains flora representative of different regions across Canada including: Pitcher Plants, Sundew, and Tamarack, Slippery Elm, Bitternut Hickory, and Witch-hazel, Manitoba Maple and Silky Dogwood as well as Yellow Birch, Hemlock, and Eastern White Cedar.
Covering approximately 1,354 acres, the Dorchester Swamp is located 3 km south-east of the Village of Dorchester, and is crossed by highways 401 and 73. The trail entrance can be located on the south side of the 401 at Highway 73.
Joany’s Woods is a conservation area that is included in Carolinian Canada’s Ausable River Valley Site and is part of the Provincially-recognized Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI). It is the second most important Carolinian botanical site in Middlesex, next to Skunk’s Misery. Joanys Woods has two public trails – the Ivey Trail (4.4 km) and the Inch Trail (3.2 km). Along these trails you will find hardwood swamps, mature upland and lowland forest, scrubby areas and a number of sizable plantations. Joany’s Woods is accessible at the south end from County Road 7 (Elginfield Road) and at the north end from Boot Hill Road.
Longwoods Road Conservation Area/Ska-Nah-Doht Village and Museum
Longwoods Road Conservation Area is best known for the annual re-enactment of the Battle of Longwoods - War 1812, but is open year round for the public and organized groups to enjoy the 5 km of marked nature trails and marsh boardwalks. The conservation area features three group camping areas, a day-use pavilion and barbecue for group picnics, snowshoe rentals for organized groups and log cabins for group programs. Special events are offered year round such as the Family Snow Shoe, Moonlight Winter Family Hike, Watershed GeoCache, Stargazing Party, Archaeology Day, Night Walk with the Spirits, and Tastes of Fall
Rotary Memorial Trail
The Rotary Club of Strathroy Memorial Trail was established to honor Rotary members who have passed away. The trail connects with the Conservation Authority's trail system creating a city-wide public trail system. The trails start at the skateboard park, located at the south end of Alexandra Park (off of Albert St by Carrie St), and extends through town to Second Street, just west of the high school.
Skunk’s Misery - Mosa Forest Conservation Trail
Mosa Forest Conservation Trail, commonly referred to as Skunk’s Misery, is one of the largest and most significant forested areas in southwestern Ontario. It has been identified as a Carolinian Canada site, Provincially Significant Wetland, an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, an Important Bird Area, and has been identified as a key biodiversity area within the Great Lakes. Skunks Misery is noted for its rare and diverse communities of upland and wetland plants and animal inhabitants. The heart of Skunk’s Misery is a 1200-ha complex of old-growth hardwood forest and swamp in Middlesex County, connected by wooded ravines to the Thames Canadian Heritage River to the south.
Strathroy Conservation Area
The Strathroy Conservation Area is located within the Town of Strathroy and includes a 3 km nature trail through a beautiful floodplain forest. Reforestation efforts by the Conservation Authority have made this area a great place to see wildlife. The trail can be accessed at the Conservation Authority Administration Centre or at the parking lot across from the High School on Head Street. There are also links with the rest of the Strathroy Parks system linking urban parks, arboretums and wetlands.
Strathroy Water Trail on Sydenham River
The Strathroy Water Trail is a 5 km loop of clear watercourse for recreational use on the Sydenham River. The river is the only major watershed in Canada that lies entirely within the Carolinian Life Zone and is home to many plants and animals that are found nowhere else in Canada. As you travel along the Sydenham River, you can see dams, mills, historic homes, churches and schoolhouses. The trail starts at the Conservation Authority Office and follows the river downstream to the Strathroy Marsh, with convenient access points along the shoreline for easy access and portage.