We recently found out that all Ontario provincial parks have free daily vehicle permits Mondays through Thursdays this year. Thanks to the free vehicle access and access to two off-leash dog areas, we’ve been frequenting Bronte Creek Provincial park a lot this year.
Visiting Bronte Creek Provincial Park may be the right choice for you if you’re looking for:
- a dog-friendly day trip to a provincial park less than an hour from Toronto
- all trails are relatively flat and less than 2.5km in length and all are dog-friendly as long as you keep your dog on leash in all areas of the park excluding the designated off leash areas
- a couple short off leash trails to complement your day hikes at a provincial park
- open access to creeks
- a beginner camper and dog-friendly campground
The Bronte Creek Provincial Park may not be the right dog-friendly park for you if you’re looking for:
- a designated dog beach area
- fenced off-leash area
- dedicated small dog space
- free daily access to off-leash areas
- campgrounds with walking access to main provincial park features
Bronte Creek Provincial Park Dog Park Review – Contents
This post is lengthy. Here are some links to jump to the content you may be looking for. Enjoy!
About Bronte Creek Provincial Park
Situated 50km west of Toronto, Bronte Creek Provincial Park bordering Oakville and Burlington, is the closest provincial park to Toronto. The 6.4 square kilometer park features:
- 8 beginner-friendly hiking and biking trails <2.5 km each through upland forests, old pastures, tall grass meadows, farmland and wetlands
- 2 off leash dog trails (one near the campground entrance, and the other by the day-use entrance)
- 1.8 acre outdoor pool
- a disc golf course
- turn-of-the-century Spruce Lane Farm House (c. 1899)
- play barn and educational events for children (currently cancelled/closed due to COVID-19 restrictions)
- camping (with some sites allowing for electrical hookup) (also currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions)
Bronte Creek Provincial Park was first established in 1972 and has been open to the public since 1975. Before becoming provincial park, this area was used for centuries by both European settlers in the mid-1800s for farming and by the Mississauga First Nations tribe.
There are two entrances to access the provincial park as the Bronte Creek divides the provincial park in half which also conveniently separates the day use and overnight campgrounds sections of the park.
Facilities are mostly accessed via the day use entrance
Most of the facilities offered at the park are accessed via the day use entrance including:
- picnic shelters
- 1.8 acre outdoor pool
- farm areas
- play barn
- disc golf
- access to one of the two off leash trail areas
- access to six of the eight available hiking trails
The campground entrance provides access to overnight camp locations as well as:
- the second off leash trail area
- the two remaining hiking trail loops (currently closed due to COVID-19 measures)
Dogs at Bronte Creek Provincial Park
Most of the provincial park is dog-friendly. While campgrounds are currently closed due to COVID-19 measures, all campgrounds offered here are dog-friendly with the exclusion of the 3 yurts available for rent.
All 8 of the hiking trails, open areas, and park roads offered at this park are dog friendly as long as your dog remains on leash.
In addition, Bronte Creek Provincial Park offers two unfenced/open leash-free areas:
- 1.4km loop located east of the Campground Entrance
- 2km loop located east of the Day-Use Entrance
Please remember that standard regulations apply to dogs visiting provincial parks:
- unless located in the off-leash trail area, dogs must be on a 6-foot leash, under control, and attended at all times
- leave no trace principle applies – dog poop is litter even in the ‘wild’ – please pick up your dog’s poop and dispose of the waste properly
- keep dogs on the trail to avoid damaging or disturbing park vegetation and wildlife
Keeping on the trail is especially important when visiting this park as ticks and hogweed can be found in this park.
For more information on dog regulations, rules, and recommendations at provincial parks, please see Ontario Park’s post on Bringing your Dogs to Ontario Parks.
A Dog-Friendly Day at Bronte Creek Provincial Park
With 11 sheltered picnic areas and 6 hiking trails available in the day-use area, you could spend more than a day exploring what Bronte Creek Provincial Park has to offer.
This year, all Ontario parks are offering free day use Monday to Thursday, but if you’re visiting Bronte Creek Provincial Park on Friday or on the weekend, entrance to the park is $18.00 plus tax and vehicle permits can be obtained at both the campground and day use entrance. The fee can be paid by Visa, Mastercard, or cash.
Start your morning at the day-use off leash trail area (Allow 30-45 min)
If you’re coming here with an energetic pup that leash pulls with excitement, start your morning off with an off leash romp at the south-east end of Bronte Creek Provincial Park. The trail is located between Parking Lot C and Parking Lot D. It has its own dedicated parking spot that can fit about 10-15 cars.
The off leash loop is an open and unfenced portion of Bronte Creek Provincial Park. There are no fences here, meaning the trail is open to the road and the rest of the park’s area as well. Because of this, many dog owners do choose to keep their dogs on a long lead in this area.
The short trail is a mostly open area so during especially hot days, I’d recommend coming to this trail in the early morning or in the evening to prevent your dog from overheating. Having said that, there are a few shaded areas with picnic tables that offer a nice break on the trail as well.
As you traverse the trail, there are multiple signs indicating where the leash free boundary ends.
Note: There is a small but muddy stream on the northwest side of the trail, however you’ll have to bring your own water to quench your dog’s thirst as there is no running water around the area until you head into other parts of the park. There is also a large communal bowl near the entrance that may be filled with water brought in by the other owners.
Enjoy shaded midday hikes around Trillium Trail and Half Moon Valley
Once you’ve burned some energy off, its time to drive to Parking Lot F, where you can enjoy a number of activities including:
- visit the Spruce Lane Farm House (currently closed due to COVID-19 measures)
- visit the play barn and say hello to the farm life
- hike through shaded trails via Trillium Trail and the Half Moon Valley
- bike to the Ravine Lookout Point via the Lookout Trail
On the day we visited, the weather was reaching 24-25 (75-77 Fahrenheit) degrees Celsius mid morning. Limone was panting quite a bit in the open sun so we chose to enjoy the rest of our time in the shaded areas of the park.
Trillium Trail (Allow 30 – 40 min)
We decided to start our first on-leash hike by heading into the 1.1 km Trillium Trail loop. This trail is known for its abundance of spring wildflowers, including the iconic Trillium flower native to Ontario. The trail is marked by pink markers on the trees and with a fairly flat ground is an easy walk for everyone of all ages. The Trillium Trail can be accessed by walking past the Spruce Lane Farm House and heading towards the back of the play barn.
The Trillium Trail loop had ample shade throughout the entire walk thanks to the tall trees in the area. It was a nice and cool respite from the sun. There are a few seated areas in this trail as well, so while short, you could spend quite a while here admiring the spring flowers. Unfortunately for us, it seemed like we arrived a bit too late in spring, as there were very few Trillium flowers in bloom.
Half Moon Valley (Allow 45 min to 1 hour)
As the Trillium Trail was a short 1.1km walk, we continued to our second shaded trail – the Half Moon Valley. There are well labelled signs from the Spruce Lane Farm House that direct you towards the Half Moon Valley Trail, which is just a short 2-3 minute walk from the farm area.
The Half Moon Valley leads you through some of the best forests that Bronte Creek has to offer (including a mix of hemlock, oak, and maple) while descending down about 35 metres (125 feet) to reach two creek accessible areas. This trail provides shade for most of the path but there are occasional areas with direct sunlight. Take some extra caution on especially hot days to ensure that you and your dog are well hydrated and not over exerting themselves.
Depending on the season, parts of this loop can get quite muddy, especially near the creek access areas. Furthermore, ensure that you and your dog keep to the trail. There are multiple signs posted around the trail indicating the presence of Giant Hogweed, a plant that contains sap that causes blisters and scars.
Note: Parts of the trail requires stairs or traversing steeper slopes, so this trail may not be as dog-friendly to older dogs with joint issues.
Relax in the afternoon and work on farm animal desensitization
At this point, Limone and I have been hiking for about 5-6 km. After completing the Half Moon Valley, we decided to backtrack back to the shaded picnic tables near Spruce Lane Farm house to enjoy our lunch, rest in the shade, and use the washroom facilities nearby. The washrooms are currently open for public use and are flush operated facilities with running water and soap. Other areas of the park with operating washroom facilities include: Parking Lot A and Parking Lot C).
There is also a sheltered picnic area but the area is currently closed and not accessible for public use.
Chicken and Cow Desensitization Training
Due to the unexpectedly hot midafternoon, Limone and I did not explore the rest of the trails offered at Bronte Creek Provincial Park. We did however, decide to work on some farm animal desensitization on the farm. Thankfully when we visited, it was a quiet midweek day and traffic around the farm was very low. There were very few people around the farm which made it the perfect day for some easy post-hike desensitization.
Limone is truly a Toronto suburban girl so her exposure to other animals beyond the occasional squirrel, skunk, and house cat was fairly low. We spent some time clicker training at a safe distance with the chickens that roamed freely around the farm before moving on to the cows. We spent an especially long time clicker training with the cows as Limone’s growling and alert barking started as soon as she was within eyesight of them. On the day we visited, the sheep were indoors so those were two animals we could work on.
Additional Afternoon Hiking for Energetic Dogs
At this point we called it a day and returned home, but if you have a big dog with excess energy and can continue for the day, I’d recommend re-visiting the two shaded trails again OR if it’s a cooler day, completing the Lookout Ravine Trail (2.8km).
The other nearby trails:
- Logging Trail (0.5km)
- Maiden’s Blush (1.3km)
- Barrier Free Trail (2.4km)
are a quite a walk away from any of the parking lots and heading to these trails require you to walk some distance without much shade protection against the midafternoon sun. Without shade, it may be difficult for your dog to reach these trails and enjoy the hike comfortably – especially in the spring and summer midafternoon heat. However, if you’re visiting on a cooler day, here is a short description of each of the remaining trails in the day-use area that you can take your dog to.
Lookout Ravine Trail (2.8 km) (Allow 1.5 – 2 hours)
The Lookout Ravine Trail is a trail that connects the Spruce Lane Farm House to the Parking Lot A area. It is 2.8 km one way that follows the Bronte Creek. On the trail, there is a lookout point that overlooks the creek and ravine below. To start the Lookout Ravine Trail from the Spruce Lane Farm House, you follow the same path that takes you to the Half Moon Valley and continue toward the ravine. The trail does eventually take you through the forest, but the first 10 minutes on the trail is open air.
Logging Trail (0.5 km) (Allow 10-15 min)
The logging trail is a short walk through the forest that connects the Lookout Ravine Trail with paved roads that connect you with the parking lots, and also to the Maiden’s Blush Trail and the Barrier Free Trail.
Maiden’s Blush Trail (1.3 km) (Allow for 30-45 min)
This trail is north of the Children’s Playbarn (Parking Lot C). It is a completely paved trail that takes you through a mature forest. During the late spring, this area is a great place to view wildflowers.
Barrier Free Trail (2.4 km) (Allow for 2 – 2.5 hours)
This trail is an extension of Maiden’s Blush Trail that adds an additional 2.4km to the hike. It’s a nice trail to add if you’d to add more distance to your hike. However, other hikers have mentioned that it is easy to spend more time than expected here as it has several access points and several side paths within the trail itself.
Dog-Friendly Events at Bronte Creek Provincial Park – Doggie Dip & Mutt Marketplace
While this is no possible on a regular day, there is an annual dog-only swimming event that is held at Bronte Creek’s Provincial Park’s 1.8 acre outdoor pool. Hosted by the National Service Dogs a yearly dog-only swimming day even is hosted annually in early September. While the dog-only swimming day is also held at other pools around the Greater Toronto Area, Bronte Creek Provincial Park is one of the largest pools that participates in this event. We’ll be keeping an eye out for this event in the future after COVID-19 measures are lifted.
For anyone who’s curious, the last dog-only swimming day at Bronte Creek Provincial Park was held on Saturday September 7, 2019 from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM and required:
- registration for swim time (pre-registration recommended)
- $10 donation per dog participating in the swim
- proof of vaccinations for the dog
The Doggie Dip & Mutt Markeplace also invited various dog business vendors to the park selling various dog products and services.
I have many fingers crossed and toes crossed that this doggy-swimming event will happen again in the future!
Camping With Your Dog At Bronte Creek Provincial Park
As mentioned earlier, most of the provincial park is dog-friendly. While campgrounds are currently closed due to COVID-19 measures, all campgrounds offered here are dog-friendly with the exclusion of the 3 yurts available for rent. There is also one off leash trail area located by the campground entrance area.
While I haven’t tried camping at this location yet, because of its vicinity to major cities, Bronte Creek Provincial Park is noisy. It is very easy to hear city life and cars driving by. This provincial park would make a great choice for first time campers thanks to its accessibility to the city. However, do note that the campground area and the day use area is physically divided by the Bronte Creek. In order to access most of the provincial park’s features like the disc golf course, the outdoor pool, the main trails, the farm, or the children’s play barn, you would need to drive 10-12 minutes from the campground entrance to the day use entrance. Unfortunately there is no path connecting the campgrounds to the day use area.
Visiting Bronte Creek Provincial Park with a Dog
Overall, Bronte Creek Provincial Park is a great provincial park to visit with a dog. It offers 2 leash-free trail zones and many short but engaging trails for you and your dog to explore. The trails are not too difficult and are suitable for dogs and folks of all ages.
Based on the major division between the day use and the campground area, while this provincial park is very dog friendly, there is a high commute involved for overnight campers to enjoy most of the features offered at this park. I would recommend visiting Bronte Creek Provincial Park for a day trip more so than an overnight excursion with your furry friend.
How to Support Bronte Creek Provincial Park
Disclaimer: I am not being paid or earning a commission for the below. I just really like supporting our local parks!
Only a small portion of Ontario Park’s funding comes from provincial taxes. If you love visiting Bronte Creek Provincial Park or any other Ontario Provincial Parks, here are some ways you can continue to support these provincial parks:
- Continue visiting your parks for day-use and overnight camping – part of the provincial park’s operational fees come from day-use and camping fees
- Consider renting yurts, cabins, canoes, or kayaks at the park – rentals also help support your provincial park’s operational costs
- Consider donating to Ontario Parks
- Supporting/Volunteering for one of the 27 ‘Friends of Ontario Parks‘ not-for-profit charitable organizations dedicating to supplementing and enhancing the provincial park experience with unique educational, recreational, research, and resource protection mandates of the parks they are affiliated with
Friends of Bronte Creek Park
Friends of Bronte Creek Park founded in 1995 is one of the 27 ‘Friends of Ontario Parks‘ and is formed entirely of volunteers. 100% of the donations received and profits from events organized by Friends of Bronte Creek Park are used to fund projects within the Bronte Creek Provincial Park. Some of the various projects planned/or planned include:
- Provide and service animal-feed dispensers on the farm
- Assist in the restoration of Spruce Lane Farm House and farm
- Host the Harvest Festival to highlight local agricultural practices in the late Victorian period
- Furnish and drive wagon tours (summer weekends)
- Provide educational crosscut saw demonstrations at the Maple Festival