These are a wide selection of everything from conservation areas to wildlife preserves that abound in every part of Ontario but might often be overlooked in our quest to travel to urban areas.
“I have always tried to encourage others to get outside and enjoy nature,” said co-author Earley, an interpretative biologist and education coordinator at the University of Guelph’s Arboretum.
“The mental health benefits of a walk in a natural site have been documented in many studies so I'm hoping the book will help get more people to get out and about.”
The book is divided into six geographic areas, starting appropriately enough, with southwestern Ontario.
If you were to take one day you could probably hit several of the local sites.
“Many are concentrated around special places or features such as the Niagara region that are easily done in one day,” Earley said.
“Others might be great for a weekend getaway.”
In southwestern Ontario, 30 sites are listed.
Let’s start in the Windsor region.
There’s the natural oasis of Devonwood that perhaps few are aware of, off of Division Road in south Windsor.
You can hike, birdwatch, cycle and cross country ski there.
Eight of 10 Carolinian oak species also grow there.
“The green canopy overhead creates more than enough privacy for the screech-owls and long-eared owls that make their home in this plant and wildlife sanctuary,” the book says.
Better known local sites are Cedar Creek in Kingsville - “an ideal way to view the area us by canoe or kayak.”
There’s also Hillman March in Leamington, which is in turn close to Point Pelee and Wheatley parks.
Almost immediately north of these is the virtually unheard of St. Clair National Wildlife Area in Pain Court, home to 20 at risk animals and plants, and on major flyway routes.
Your day trip might even be able to make it was far east as the Mosa Forest in southwest Middlesex County.
This is a “pristine tract of Carolinian forest” and “home to rare breeding birds such as the Acadian flycatcher, hooded warbler and yellow-billed cuckoo,” the book says.
There are, of course, many amazing natural areas elsewhere in Ontario, as illustrated by the cover photo of the “sea stack spectacular” rock formation on Flowerpot Island near Manitoulin Island.
Or the Bonnechere Caves at Eganville in eastern Ontario.
Says the book, “the scalloped walls are a veritable library of ancient marine-life fossils”
Even in Toronto there’s the “urban wilderness” of Tommy Thompson Park on the Leslie Street Spit, a breakwater in Toronto’s Outer Harbour, which hosts a bird-banding station and annual nature festivals.
Earley admits his bias but says one of his favourite sites is The Arboretum in Guelph.
“It has incredibly biodiversity plus educational aspects to it that are very attractive to those wanting to spend a day in nature,” he said.
Overall, the authors favorite spots are along the Bruce Peninsula and in Algonquin Provincial Parl.