Happy Trails Project
Hike in Happy Valley Forest, ON (Photo by NCC)
Perched on the doorstep of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is Happy Valley Forest — the largest intact deciduous forest on the Oak Ridges Moraine. This old-growth forest in the making plays an important role in sheltering rare species and slowing and filtering rainwater as it is collected into underground aquifers that support the surrounding communities.
It is also a popular spot for hiking, skiing, birdwatching and enjoying nature. Its network of trails are enjoyed year-round by community members and visitors alike. With a growing population in the GTA and an increased interest in nature-based recreation, it’s important that we ensure this special place is used responsibly, so that both wildlife and people can enjoy the forest for generations to come. Thoughtful visitor management planning can make this a reality.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) plan includes:
- New trail linkages to eliminate trespassing on private land;
- Improved trail infrastructure, including boardwalks, gates and fencing;
Volunteers heading out to pull invasive garlic mustard at a CV event in Happy Valley Forest (Photo by Miguel Hortiguela)
- Better signage to encourage proper trail etiquette and use;
- Improved wayfinding, including trail maps and blazes;
- Supporting close to seven kilometres of hiking trails on NCC lands, coordinated with an additional seven kilometres of multi-use trails on partner and public lands throughout Happy Valley Forest; and
- A fully accessible trail and parking lot at NCC’s Goldie Feldman Nature Reserve.
NCC’s first accessible trail in Canada
Happy Valley Forest, ON (Photo by NCC)
At NCC, we believe that everyone should have the opportunity to spend time in nature. Whether listening to birds singing in a forest or watching butterflies, frogs and salamanders enjoying a wetland, immersing ourselves in nature can leave people feeling renewed, inspired and connected to our natural world.
Over the next two years, NCC plans to make Goldie Feldman Nature Reserve accessible for more people to enjoy. A highlight of the Happy Trails project will be the development of a one-kilometre accessible trail, accessible parking area and wayfinding and educational signage, offering a safer visit to the property while also informing visitors about the importance of protecting this special place. Opportunities also exist to enhance and restore habitat around the trail and provide interpretive signage to inspire visitors about the future of our restoration projects. This will be NCC’s first fully accessible trail in Canada.
How you can help
In order to make these trail improvements in Happy Valley Forest, we need your help. By investing in the Happy Trails project, you can be part of NCC history — helping to create NCC's first fully accessible trail in Canada! Help connect visitors and locals with nature, while ensuring the wildlife and sensitive habitats of Happy Valley Forest are protected. To complete this work, NCC is working to raise $750,000 over the next two years.
Please indicate on the donation form that you would like your gift to go towards the Happy Valley Forest Happy Trails project.
A natural legacy
When it comes to conserving Canada’s most important natural areas, buying land is just the beginning. Stewardship — managing the land for the long term — is at the heart of what we do. Each and every property we protect is monitored and managed, so that the ecosystems are maintained and species thrive, even if that means leaving it be. This can include mapping and removing invasive species, restoring wetlands, grasslands and forests, monitoring for species at risk, planting native species, building trails or installing signage.
To continue to care for the natural areas we protect, NCC has created a Stewardship Endowment Fund. This fund provides annual support for our priority stewardship work across Ontario. Annual benefits from the endowment fund are used to pay the costs necessary to ensure efficient and long-term, science-based management of lands under NCC’s care.
NCC may direct all or a portion of gifts committed to this project to NCC’s Stewardship Endowment Fund for Ontario. Revenue generated by the Stewardship Endowment Fund provides for long-term management on properties across the province, including NCC conservation lands in Happy Valley Forest. In the event that this project becomes fully funded or cannot be carried out, your gift will be allocated to the next urgent priority in this natural area.