Hiking with your family can be a really great way to enjoy a summer day in Grey County. There’s no such thing as too much fresh air when it comes to kids, and it’s a great opportunity to teach them about nature and spend some quality time. However, we know that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. We have the perfect solution - which is almost the same as sunshine and rainbows - go for a hike followed up by ice cream! We’re by no means suggesting that you bribe your children with ice cream, wait, actually, maybe we are. Here are some suggestions:
In the heart of Owen Sound, Harrison Park has more than 40 hectares of trails, streams, playgrounds, and green space to roam. Plan an outdoor adventure followed by ice cream from the Harrison Park Inn. There are so many hiking opportunities in Harrison Park, but here are a couple that will amuse the whole family. Download the Harrison Park Brochure.
Park near the Inn and walk to the very back of the park. Near the public pool you’ll discover a sign pointing to wooden boardwalk, follow it to check out Weavers Creek Falls. It tends to stay nice and cool in the shaded forest, perfect on hot days. Be sure to view the falls safely from the viewing area and do not enter private property. (The falls itself is located on private property..)
You can continue your hike by continuing past the pool to follow the trail through the campground and across the bridge. Follow the newly paved trail for an easier stroll, or venture into the forest where the path is a little more rugged and brings you closer to the river’s edge. This will bring you past the bird sanctuary, and back to the main parking area by the Harrison Park Inn. Enjoy a sit-down meal inside the Inn, or grab take out from the window which is conveniently located right across from the newly renovated smaller kids playground area. They have family favourites such as hamburgers, chicken fingers, fries, ice cream and milkshakes. There is a larger menu available inside.
The Georgian Trail runs approximately 34 kms along the southern shore of Georgian Bay between Collingwood and Meaford. The trail features a hard-packed, granular surface ideal for walkers, joggers, and cyclists, as well as cross-country skiers and snowshoers in the winter.
This is another linear trail, meaning there is no ‘loop’ to hike but you can do a nice out and back with magnificent views of Georgian Bay going in both directions. A great spot to jump on the rail is at Bayview Park (please note there is paid parking enforced here). It offers public washrooms, a playground area and picnic pavilion. You can hike along the shoreline in either direction and when little legs get tired, head back to the park. Not far from the park, and absolutely worth the extra few steps, is Pom Pom Treat Hut, located just across the pedestrian bridge.Head south on Bruce Street and you won’t miss it. It’s a bright cheery yellow hut with ice cream art and décor around it the ‘coolest’ ice cream menu. It features both plant-based ice cream, and dairy ice cream in flavours such as birthday party, toasted s’mores and cookie monster. If it’s a special occasion, call ahead and see about a spectacular ice cream cake, they really are works of art!
Holstein Jubilee Park and General Store
Holstein Jubilee Park is located off Grey Road 109, across the road from the Holstein General Store. It’s home to the Holstein Dam, which is one of the waterfalls on the Grey County Waterfall tour. *PLEASE NOTE: The Holstein Dam currently has no water flowing over it, due to a breach upstream. The park is open, as well as washrooms and picnic areas. The trail above the dam is also closed while they do repairs.* The park has viewing areas for the charming waterfall, dam and mill pond stocked with brook trout contains picnic areas, a pavilion, ball diamond, playground, washrooms and several walking trails. An old railway trail runs along the top of the dam and provides the best vantage point for the falls. You can use the various hiking trails to explore the whole park. Look for the foundation of an old sawmill ruin, hidden in the woods. One trick to keep the little ones moving along is to create a scavenger hunt before you leave home. Plan ahead for wildlife or cool nature things you might come across on your hike. A good list for this hike would be a frog, a fish, a bridge, a maple leaf, a bird, and maybe even…a snake.
After you’ve explored,, you can stop in at the Holstein General Store on your way home for some of Grey County’s own Chapman’s Ice Cream. The historical General Store is stocked with all sorts of sweet treats, local baked goods, preserves, fresh produce and more. During the summer months from Wednesday to Sunday you can also visit Spanky’s Food Truck next to the General Store for tasty food truck classics like hot dogs, mac & cheese bites, pulled pork and more.
Greystone Trails is a hidden gem. It is privately owned, but open to the public for hiking and exploring. Located along Grey Road 1, north of Owen Sound, it features over 16km of hiking trails on a 430 acres of property. Please be sure to check their website ahead of time as they are a privately owned location and open hours may vary. They are usually open daily from dusk to dawn, and trails are mowed in the summer months and groomed in the winter months for snowshoeing and skiing. You can pick up a printed trail map at the parking lot entrance when you arrive. This is a fantastic spot to teach the kids about birding. They recommend a short 1.5km hike starting along Creek Trail and connecting to the Barn Trail and then heading back on Conservatory Trail, where the owners have spotted up to 26 different species of bids in just a one hour hike!
When you’re done hiking and birding, head north on Grey Road 1 to the historical Big Bay General Store. You can get giant scoops of homemade ice cream in an array of unique flavours. Be sure to check their social channels for hours of operation before heading out. For the month of June they’re open from 12pm-6pm daily, but will be open longer hours once school is out, and for the rest of the summer.
Kelso Beach Park is a beach, a park and local history all in one, with an accessible paved trail from one end to the other, making it great for strollers, bikes and other wheeled mobility devices. Located on the shores of Georgian Bay at the mouth of the Pottawatami River in Owen Sound, you can access the park by car via the Eddie Sargent Parkway or by foot or bicycle following the city's harbour front walkway. This is a great place to hike with small kids and beginners. There is no looped trail within the park, but you can hike in either direction along the shoreline and simply turn around when they get tired, or hungry and head back to where you started.
Located on the traditional territory of the Saugeen Ojibwa Nation, very close to the site of the original Nawash Village, Kelso Beach Park also home to the Giche Namewikwedong Reconciliation Garden, a place to pause, learn, and reflect. It's a great opportunity to talk about Indigenous culture, history and art with your family.
The playground, washrooms and a picnic pavilion are located in the centre of the park, and make for a good starting and ending point. If you’re feeling up to it, you can hike from the park, over the arched bridge and continue following the trail to the West Side Boat Launch (approximately 1.5kms away) where there is a new business that just opened this summer called The Launch. It is a combination of Bombshell Stella’s Hearty Food Truck, Sunday’s Express Ice Cream and a little secret for the parents – they will also be serving adult beverages such as craft beer and frozen cocktails. Check out their website for menu items and hours before heading out.
The Allan Park Conservation Area is located about half way between Hanover and Durham. One of the more popular properties owned by Saugeen Valley Conservation Area, this day-use park is open to the public year-round. With over 10 kms of scenic trails, it’s a terrific location for a family hike. Check out their trail map and choose a loop that suits you and your family’s skills. The green Pine Tree Loop is a beginner trail, so that might be a great place to start from the main parking lot. It takes you past the Trout Pond and over a small bridge.
Once you’re tired everyone out at the Conservation Area, head into the town of Hanover to Neptune Scoops. They are located on 10th Street in Hanover across from Tim Horton’s. They are currently open from Thursdays to Sundays for the month of June and will increase their hours in July. It’s run by local youth from the area as part of a summer work experience. Be sure to check out their social media pages for updates.