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Durham Environmental Advisory Committee

Durham Environmental Advisory Committee (DEAC)

Favourite Places in Durham

Whether it is a tranquil natural oasis hidden in-town, a marsh along a shoreline of one of the three major lakes, or a wooded area on the Oak Ridges Moraine, Durham Region has a vast number of publicly accessible, natural areas worth exploring.  Whether you are a hiker, paddler, mountain biker, birder, or just looking for a place to spend time with your family, DEAC members encourage you to get out and explore some of their favourite natural places.  But, please, remember to do so responsibly so everyone can continue to enjoy these areas.

  • Seagulls on a branchLocated at the spectacular Ajax waterfront, the Duffins Creek coastal marshes are not only beautiful to look at, they are alive with wildlife. Spring brings the birds back and the marshes are an excellent place to see shorebirds, waterfowl, and water birds like Bonaparte’s Gull. Summer hums with dragonflies, damselflies and beautiful butterflies. Fall delights with its fiery colours and spawning salmon. Winter snow gives us a glimpse of what mammals use the marsh, when their tracks are easy to see. The Waterfront Trail through Ajax winds you past the marshes, and, if you look carefully among the cattails, you may find Karen McDonald - it’s one of her favourite places.
  • Imagine a place where you can walk along a lively creek and cool your toes away from the noise of the city; a place of forest paths, open fields, abrupt and dramatic drops that suddenly fall away at your feet; of disturbed land that strives to recover, with deep and tranquil forest nearby that has been thoughtfully and beautifully set-aside from the pressures of development; imagine an arch of cedar that is so thick you feel you pass indoors to an ancient place of worship; a place where huge trees that overhang the water, where occasional fish flick their tails with annoyance and charge off someplace else; where paths seem to start and end from everywhere and nowhere, and then entwine in constantly surprising ways with both the old and enduring and the new and changing; imagine Greenwood. This is Bryan Karney's favourite, the Greenwood Conservation Area in Ajax.
  • The Ganaraska forest is right in Hida Manns' backyard. The forest centre is open at all times, for a walk, run or ski in the woods. The logging roads are also accessible for the more adventuresome to explore, to collect wild blackberries/mushrooms or for horseback riding.Person walking on a trail The forest is also incredibly important to the environment. It is essential for water retention, as was discovered at the turn of the century, and the managed reforested areas are well established. The large tract of forest is home to a complete ecological system of animals, including abundant deer, coyote, wolf, and bear. The large forest area also has a buffering effect on our climate by slowing water runoff and evaporation and increasing plant transpiration.
  • Larry Burt's favourite place in Durham is at the top of Skyloft Ski Club. Located on the Oak Ridges Moraine, Skyloft is the highest elevation on the Moraine and in the region at 404 metres above sea level.
  • One of Matthew Celestial's favourite places in Durham would be the Whitby Shores waterfront trail. He appreciates the fact that he lives near Lake Ontario and has always loved having access to these areas. Matthew loves taking walks and making sketches on the waterfront trail during the summer. It is a very therapeutic place for Matthew when he is stressed out. He enjoys the simple environment and loves to explore around the area.
  • Located in the south west corner of Ajax adjacent to the Duffins Creek Wetland is a small woodlot. With towering conifers and majestic deciduous trees to shelter you from the elements and clamour of nearby urban developments. Located within is a tranquil spot for visitors to sit and gaze out on to the Duffins and watch nature come to life. A well used trail leads you thought dips, twist and turns amongst the wild understory of plants and moss covered logs. For Kim Sellers, this is a wonderful place to escape today's busy lifestyle and experience the calm of nature.
  • Ellen McRae has many favourite places in Durham Region, the top two include biking the waterfront trail along with the many other bike trails around Durham and cross country skiing at Long Sault Conservation Area. River surrounded by trees in fall
  • Bryan Buttigieg's favorite places in Durham include the southernmost section of the Rouge River, Frenchman's Bay and the section of the Seaton hiking trail just south of Taunton road. The portion of the Rouge between Highway 2 and Lake Ontario never fails to yield some surprise. It is a great place to observe the changing seasons, from the early spring waterfowl migrants through the winter visitors. Beaver, deer, over 200 species of birds and numerous interesting plants make this section of the river a true gem. Frenchman’s Bay, apart from being an unusual feature on the north shore of the lake, provides numerous recreation and wildlife viewing opportunities to local residents. Sailors, dragon boaters, canoeists and kayakers all share this sheltered habitat with terns, trumpeter swans, the occasional great egret and many other wild visitors. Finally, the hilliest section of the Seaton hiking trail, south of Taunton road, will reward visitors with impressive views of Duffins creek and the surrounding countryside. Bryan especially loves to visit this area in the fall, when the area comes into its own with spectacular vistas of the changing colours.

A flying crane (bird)

McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve sign

  • Bryan Swift's favourite place in Durham Region is the scenic and quaint Dogwood Trail located in the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve. The trail features a guided rope and panels of Braille which offers visually impaired individuals the chance to experience and learn about the surrounding nature. Take a stroll, run, or bike ride and observe the Dogwood pond which is lined with trees and shrubs or walk the ½ kilometre trail under 100 year maple and willow trees to the shore of Lake Ontario.