November 14, 2020

By: Emilie Lapointe

Before our streets and trails are blanketed with snow and we become inundated with a whole host of new outdoor activities (snowshoeing, tobogganing, skating, cross-country skiing…), I’ve created a scavenger hunt to make exploring Oakville’s great outdoors a little more interactive.

Please remember to be respectful and social distance when exploring Oakville. Try a different location if a parking lot is already full. 

Throughout this scavenger hunt, I’ll also be showing you some of my favourite parks and views in Oakville! Before leaving the house make sure:

  1. You have a few layers packed and dress comfortably
  2. You bring a mask and sanitizer
  3. You have a water bottle to stay hydrated
  4. You bring some trails snacks
  5. Your phone and camera are charged and ready to go!

Take a look at the list I’ve compiled below and head out with me!

Checking things off our list at Bronte Creek Provincial Park

With my camera in tow, I set off to my first destination: Bronte Creek Provincial Park. This 6.4-square kilometer park features a trail system that is easy to navigate. The park also boasts a variety of birds to admire. While I’m no bird aficionado myself, I enjoy watching them flit around from tree to tree. Although many have flown away for the season, there are still many procrastinators in the park to watch and photograph.

From my limited experience watching for birds, there is an element of luck and skill involved – being in the right places at the right time and listening and looking carefully. The provincial park has so much space to explore, so if you stay long enough you’re bound to spot something!

Greenspace hopping in Oakville

After a brisk morning hike, I wanted to do a little park and garden-hopping to find some of the other items on my scavenger hunt list. While already in the Bronte area, I made a quick visit to Bronte Heritage Park for a view of boats, swans and the lighthouse. I have photographed it many times, but the dilapidated old tugboat in the harbour is one of the most intriguing sights in contrast to all the new boats and sailboats.

Gairloch Gardens is the ideal space for finding ducks, geese, blooms and fountains! While the garden is understandably not in full bloom, there are still a handful of flowers in the trellised rose garden hanging on to their last petals and, surprisingly, some new buds about to bloom. There is a kind of serenity in Gairloch Gardens that transcends all seasons. The ducks still dunk their heads in the ponds and the nearby lake, the leaves have turned multi-coloured and continue to coat the grass below and the waves of the lake still crash audibly against the rocky barrier.

In other words, there are still several opportunities for great photos in this spot for our scavenger hunt!

Our next location is Petro Canada Park for a mid-afternoon lookout point! This is a popular spot for fishing and you’ll likely run into local fishers and spot some fish moving upstream. The park isn’t too large, making it easy to look around and admire the view for a quick visit.

On my latest visit to Lions Valley Park, I made a point to turn left out of the parking lot, over the bridge, through the picnic pavilion and continued left along a short trail that led me to something that didn’t quite belong…

As you’re entering or leaving Lions Valley Park, make sure to stop off at the lookout near the corner of Neyagawa Blvd. and Upper Middle Rd. E. It offers a sprawling view of Sixteen Mile Creek and all its tree cover from above. The view is especially breathtaking in the fall!

Wind down with a sunset view

The final stop on our scavenger hunting day is Tannery Park for the sunset. You will swear you’ve just been transported seaside with the lighthouse in the distance, sailboats coasting along, kayakers and seagulls cawing. This spot may be my favourite for a sunset view in Oakville, as you’re at the perfect vantage point to look on from a distance at the sky and shoreline melting together. Throughout the month of November, a sunset viewing at Tannery Park is made a little more special as the Tannery Hill Beacon is being lit up by Lighthouse for Grieving Children all month in blue in honour of Children’s Grief Awareness Month. The lighting has been named “Hope,” as a beacon of hope for these children. It seems only fitting to end a day filled with outdoor activity with a sunset and view of Hope shining through the night.