It might not always be top of mind when we’re bingeing Netflix or commuting on a congested highway, but Canada boasts more lakes, coastlines, and old-growth forests than any other country on Earth. Which means that a short distance from every major city in Canada, there’s a perfect place to get outside and partake in the Mazda CX-50 Minute Challenge this August.
Here are nine of our favourite close-to-home natural areas across Canada.
Juan De Fuca Provincial Park, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
Find tide pools, waterfalls, grottos, old-growth forest and more at this stunning provincial park on the west coast of Vancouver Island. At the park, the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail is a must-do—it can be hiked in short sections, and there’s a suspension bridge, hidden waterfalls, both pebble and sand beaches, and forests featuring towering western coastal hemlock, sitka spruce, and Douglas fir trees.
Crawford Lake Conservation Area, Milton, Ontario
This family-friendly Conservation Halton park is popular for hiking, geocaching, birding, and even cross-country skiing. At the heart of the park is the turquoise blue Crawford Lake, one of only 12 known meromictic lakes in all of Canada, where the lake is deep but has a small relative surface area. A stroller-friendly boardwalk goes around the lake, and the 1.5km loop Woodland Trail features unique wood carvings of at-risk animal species.
Hemlock Ravine Park, Halifax, NS
Just a short drive from downtown Halifax, this tranquil, 200-acre habitat has 4 km of hiking trails, including an off-leash walking area for dogs. The park is best known for its distinctive heart-shaped pond—built by Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, in the late 18th century—but there are also fern-lined trails and a ravine with 300-year-old hemlock trees to explore.
Point Pelee National Park, Leamington, Ontario
Head to mainland Canada’s southernmost point! Point Pelee on Lake Erie is a designated Dark Sky Preserve and the most ecologically diverse national park in Canada, where you can observe migrating Monarch butterflies and hundreds of bird species. There are sandy beaches and trails through lush wetlands, where canoe and kayak tours and rentals are available.
Morgan Arboretum, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec
A part of McGill University’s Macdonald Campus, this forest reserve on the island of Montreal is open to the public year-round. Featuring a combination of forest areas and old fields, the arboretum is home to more than 170 species of birds, about 30 species of mammals, and over a dozen species of reptiles. There are multiple trails designated for walking, running, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta
This glacier-fed lake is a must-see destination between May and October in Banff National Park. Located southeast of Lake Louise in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, Moraine Lake gets its vibrant blue-green colour thanks to tiny, reflective particles of glacial silt. A highlight is the easy, 3-kilometre return Shoreline Trail, which takes about 45 minutes to hike and offers lovely lake and mountain views.
Lynn Canyon Park, Vancouver, British Columbia
There are 617 acres of forest at this North Vancouver park, where you can walk across a 50-metre-high suspension bridge, swim in a 30-foot pool, and see moss-covered trees, beautiful waterfalls, and scenic rivers. The popular Baden Powell Trail passes through the park, and it’s also a great place to do some forest bathing among the Douglas fir, western red cedar, western hemlock, and Sitka spruce trees.
Gatineau Park, Chelsea, Quebec
At this conservation park just north of Ottawa, there are 183 kilometres of hiking trails in the summer, and visitors can also swim, fish, go horseback riding, try rock climbing, and rent stand-up paddle boards, rowboats, and canoes. The three-season, 2.3-kilometre Pink Lake Trail in the park offers an accessible lookout and winning views of the bright green, meromictic lake.
Dundas Valley Conservation Area, Dundas, Ontario
This conservation area, run by the Hamilton Conservation Authority, encompasses Carolinian forests, meadows, streams, and more. There are 40 kilometres of recreational gravel and grass trails for walkers, cyclists, and equestrians, with the most popular being the Main Loop Trail, which winds through a deciduous forest, hemlock groves, and a former apple orchard.
Ready to spend more time in nature? Join the Mazda CX-50 Minute Challenge today and learn more about the new Mazda CX-50, at mazda.ca/en/CX50minutechallenge