Our Hockley Valley Hiking came about when a friend asked me for a hilly trail that was within one hour drive of Toronto. Located in Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve the trails in this park are part of the Bruce Trail which runs along the Niagara Escarpment.
Although well known for its fall foliage when the entire valley is a blaze of colour we discovered this is a great summer walk because of the hardwood tree canopy for most of the route which shielded us from the sun.
The Ministry of Natural Resources has a large parking lot and it is a quick 100 meter walk to the trailhead. You begin climbing immediately and soon come to a split in the trail. There is a main trail along with 3 side trails so you can easily adapt the length of your hike to fit your ability. All along the trails there are benches so you can take a break if you wish.
The Tom East side trail (blue blazes) takes a right fork for the next few kilometers. This side trail continues to climb but when you do get a break in the trees be sure to look back as you can see the valley and ski lifts on the far side, a splendid view.
The Tom East trail goes up and down quite a bit over its course also providing a few flat sections so you have time to catch your breath. There are a few creeks along this route as well but the bridges are new and very solidly built.
You again join the main Bruce Trail (white blazes) and head to the right (north). If you do not have a trail map there is no need for concern as there are very clear maps posted at each intersection so you won’t be getting lost.
Next up is the Glen Cross Side Trail for 4 km heading off to the right. Again you will need to cross numerous streams but there are also bridges over all of them. This section has far more fairly steep, but short climbs and descents plus a brief walk through a meadow. You again meet the main trail and if you return at this point your route will have taken you for a 9.6 km distance. This first part is also known as the Friendship Trail and there are signs explaining its Korean affiliation.
However we continue to the right along the main trail. Then it is off to the left along the Snell Loop Trail which has very different terrain. At first you have a gradual ascent as you follow a stream before reaching the top of the north ridge of the Hockley Valley. You cross an open field bordered on both sides by some ponds before plunging back into the hardwood forest again.
Rejoin the main trail heading to the right so that the total distance of 15 km for this hike when you are finished. Along this section you are mostly in the forest and heading down but there are a few climbs and nice lookout points to keep things interesting.
After a great hike socializing with your fellow hikers is a must so head back along Hockley Road crossing Airport Road and a further 3 km to the Hockley General Store which offers refreshments including pastries, ice cream, tea and other goodies. There is plenty of parking.
Getting to the Trailhead
Take Airport Road from Toronto and a few kilometers past Hwy 9 turn left on Hockley Road. Follow this road for about 6 km until you see the Ministry of Natural Resources parking lot on your right just before 2nd Line.
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This Hockley Valley hiking route should take you about 4 to 5 hours providing you with a scenic and hilly walk over well marked trails.