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 along the Hockley Road Side Trail to the trailhead.
Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve
On the north side of Hockley Road (60.1 km mark on the Bruce Trail map) 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.
So at the 60.3 point 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 offering a splendid view.
The Tom East trail goes up and down quite a bit over its course, about 2.5 km, 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.
At the 62.6 km point 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 Isabel East Side Trail at the 63.5 mark for 1.9 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.
Along the way it joins the 1.4 km Glen Cross Side Trail which you follow.
You again meet the main trail (at the 64.9 km point) 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 Cam Snell Loop Trail at the 64.4 km marker 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. Along the 2.2 km distance 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.
Hockley Valley South Side
Again you take the Hockley Road Side Trail from the parking lot but this time turn south and walk along the 2nd Line EHS to the 58.9 km point where you turn east. Unlike the hike mentioned above this will be a one way walk so there is a car shuttle involved.
You will be crossing along the edge of fields and once crossing the 3rd Line EHS will be on the edge of the Hockley Valley Resort which includes a golf course and ski hill with excellent views of the countryside.
The next section is a lot of up and down crossing heavily forested terrain until reaching Airport Road which you should cross with care due to the high traffic volume.
On the east side of Airport Road continue to follow the main trail to the Bruce Trail parking lot on the 5th Sideroad at the 44.3 km point. The total distance for this hike is about 15.8 km. If you want to go further there is the 7th Line parking lot at the 42.2 km point with a short access trail.
Post Hike Refreshments
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.
Another option is the Tim Horton’s at the corner of Highway 9 and Airport Road.
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.
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.
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