Mountsberg Conservation Area is one of the most family friendly spots in the GTA for hiking, wildlife viewing, and picnicking. We discovered it last summer and I remember thinking this is definitely a spot Elowyn will love even more when she’s able to walk. I was right about that, but what I couldn’t have predicted was that over the next year Elowyn would become an animal enthusiast who would especially appreciate all the wildlife at Mountsberg!
What an amazing surprise to be greeted by a gaggle of geese with their baby goslings shortly after we parked. I was able to get pretty close to take these pictures without upsetting the proud geese parents. This is the first time Elowyn saw baby geese up close and she excitedly called out to them, maybe a little too loudly because they escaped shortly after.
Mountsberg Centre for Birds of Prey
Mountsberg has numerous facilities and programming on site that cater to families with young children.
Their Raptor Center gives visitors the unique opportunity to learn about Eagles, Falcons, Vultures, Owls and other Birds of Prey.
Daily public educational programs run at the park; there were three shows featuring different birds of prey on the Sunday we visited. The highlight was meeting a feisty Bald Eagle who demanded a refreshing shower. When the keeper would turn the hose off to encourage him to jump in the pool, the Eagle would squawk loudly until the keeper caved and delivered a few more minutes of the cool shower!
See Highlights of the Birds of Prey Show Here:
There’s also a barn you can visit with various farm animals available for petting. Elowyn loved seeing the bunnies hopping around in a circle and pausing as a team to enjoy a well-earned water break. She made friends with a kindergartener who encouraged her to visit the goats, “they’re loud but they don’t bite!” she said as she grabbed Elowyn’s hand and led her to the goat-pen. My heart melted. Then the girl’s father fearlessly grabbed the chicken for the girls to pet. Elowyn wasn’t quite ready to pet the chicken but maybe next year!
Just outside of the barn we found the beautiful horses grazing in their pasture. Elowyn ran straight for them, not concerned in the slightest about their size or the fact that they could lean their heads over the fence. Luckily, she’s not the only one who can run fast and I was right behind her!
Picnic and Discovery Centre
You’ll find many beautiful picnic areas in Mountsberg. We chose a picnic table by the water for a scenic lunch break.
The wraps I had made with turkey, brie, pear and honey-mustard tasted great slightly melted in the summer sun.
We also packed lots of fruit and the most recent trail-mix I made. We were going to stay in the area and toss the foot-ball around, but the mosquitos started to attack and we realized we had forgotten to pack bug-spray!
When snack time hits, or if like us you forgot bug-spray, the Discovery Centre Gift shop has you covered! There are also large and clean washroom facilities and a stroller ramp to get up to the second floor of the Discovery Centre. That’s where Mountsberg offers shows like the “Native Snake Show” we attended . If you’re wondering, I didn’t miss my chance to pet the Garter snake.
After the Snake Show, we got popsicles from the gift shop and enjoyed them at the large outdoor play area. How often do you get to climb and jump off hay barrels? Elowyn found a small hole in the hay structure and decided it was the Ermine’s house, “Ermine, where are you? “Ermine!”. In case you missed it, this month Elowyn has declared the Ermine as her favourite animal. We convinced her that the elusive Ermine might be hiding in the forest, a perfect excuse to hit the trails!
Hiking at Mountsberg
There are 16km of hiking trails at Mountsberg ranging from easy to moderate in difficulty. This time we did the shorter “Sugar Bush” and “Wildlife Walkway” loops since we were all starting to feel the heat. Both were stroller friendly, but the Sugar Bush trail offers more scenic photo spots amongst the cabins. I’m happy to report that the bug-spray was effective and the mosquitos didn’t bother us on the trails. We came across a frog and many different species of birds; it was the perfect end to another memorable trip to Mountsberg.
For fellow photo enthusiasts, Mountsberg runs a monthly event called “Raptors in Focus” where you have a chance to photograph the birds of prey with natural backgrounds. There are also many family oriented events offered year-round like their popular Maple Syrup Festival. Check out Mountsberg’s event schedule for more info!