Hidden Gems – Wasaga Beach
City Gem: Bear Creek Eco Park
Located within the city of Barrie, the Bear Creek Eco Park is a delightfully unexpected treat. Considered an easy trail at only 1.3 km of fairly flat forest trail and boardwalk, this out and back trail can be completed within 20 minutes if walking at a decent pace. To locate this trail, head to 91 Ferndale Road South, just past Summerset Drive.
Although not a fabulous trail for the diehard hiking set, this place is a wonderful spot for a stroll after meeting up with a friend for lunch or dinner in town. During the week, it is extremely peaceful and the scenery is stunning and serene. The boardwalk and bridge through the marsh provide additional charm. Other trails going through the nearby forested areas on either side of Ferndale can also be accessed easily from the park. With a marsh and pond being located on site, Bear Creek is an excellent spot to take your time to just listen and observe. Plant life common to marshes and forests abound and these, in turn, attract a large variety of species. Birds, in particular, are plentiful as are frogs and turtles.
Come early and you may even be graced with the presence of a Great Blue Heron. Kids will enjoy ad hoc pond studies as they take in all this unique ecosystem has to offer. Others may enjoy forest bathing which has been linked to reducing stress and boosting the immune system.
Photography is another very popular pastime at the marsh. Every season provides a different vibe and perspective and, on foggy mornings or evenings, the area appears almost mystical. To get more out of the experience, why not bring a picnic basket and a blanket. There is a flat section beside the pond that would be great to set up a badminton net, play frisbee or kick around a soccer ball. The forested section makes a great place to play a game of hide-and-go-seek. Try cross country skiing or attempt to feed the chickadees during the winter months. Meeting up to chat with friends or just taking a quick break from the day at home or work are also wonderful options.
Bear Creek Eco Park is a unique bit of country within the city and it’s yours to discover, free of charge!