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Explore the unique nature on your doorstep
An invitation: come and explore The Carolinian Life Zone. It's time to get to know the wildlife in your backyard. After all, where else can you find Kentucky Coffee Tree, Giant Tiger Swallowtail and Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus?
Not sure where to begin? Use this list as a starting point.
Carolinian Canada Signature Sites
The Carolinian Canada Signature Sites consist of 38 natural areas highly representative of Carolinian habitats. Many are owned by conservation organizations and are great places to learn more about nature in southern Ontario. Staff Picks:
- Dorchester Swamp (near London): View the swamp from the scenic Dorchester Mill Pond loop.
- Dundas Valley: The short hike in the Spencer Gorge between Tews Falls and Webster’s falls is spectacular and easy for beginners.
- Stone Road Alvar (Pelee Island): This special ecosystem is globally rare. Keep on the lookout for the Giant Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly.
Coastal Stewardship EcoTrail
Point Pelee, Rondeau and Long Point are some of the better-known treasures gracing Erie’s north shore. But did you know Carolinian Canada and partners have identified more than 80 significant sites along the coast? Learn about cultural history, coastal processes, Carolinian rarities, stewardship opportunities and more.
Provincial Parks and Conservation Areas and Reserves
Carolinian Canada has many provincial parks and conservation areas. Some of our favourites include:
- Pinery Provincial Park: The Carolinian Trail (of course!); the Riverside Trail is wheelchair accessible.
- Clear Creek Forest: Hug an old growth tree in the forest. Then check out the pit-and-mound restoration, where trees were planted in a field landscaped to mimic old-growth topography.
- Rondeau Provincial Park: Look for 5-Lined Skink by day; listen for the bleat of the rare Fowler's toad come evening.
Environmental Education Centres
Are you a teacher? Bringing a class to an environmental education centre is another great way to explore.
- Thames Valley District School Board has three environmental education centres in London, Aylmer and Woostock.
- Waterloo Region District School Board currently operates day-use Outdoor Environmental Education Centres in Blair and Wrigley Corners (near Cambridge) which are within the Carolinian Life Zone.
- Fanshawe Outdoor Education Centre in London, Ontario, offers a range of curriculum based programming.
- Grand River Conservation Authority Nature Centres - The Apps' Mill Nature Centre (Brantford) is within the Carolinian Life Zone.
What is your favourite place to explore?
We want to feature your pick on our website and through other social media outlets. Contact Carolinian Canada through Facebook or our website and let us know.
Pinery Provincial Park - Hodgkiss
Book: Wake, W. (ed.) A Nature Guide to Ontario. 1997. Federation of Ontario Naturalists. University of Toronto Press.