Hockley Valley Provincial Park: The Ultimate Hiking Guide

Hockley Valley Provincial Park

Hockley Valley Provincial Park is one of those places that you’ll be thinking about visiting again while you’re still there. It’s that amazing! There are several hiking trails at Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve that form three loop trails. The scenery is so beautiful, and dare I say…magical!

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If you visit in the middle to end of May, you’ll be treated to the sight of thousands upon thousands of trilliums blanketing the forest floor. With these pretty white flowers lining the paths, you’ll quickly fall in love with Hockley Valley Provincial Park. However, if you happen to visit during the other months of the year, I am certain that you’ll love this park equally as much.

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Hockley Valley Provincial Park Map

Hockley Valley Provincial Park Map

Hockley Valley Provincial Park (also known as Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve) is a non-operating provincial park. That means that there aren’t any facilities, activities, or camping at the park. Everything is left wild and free, and there are several hiking trails to explore.

Hockley Valley Provincial Park Map

This also means that there is ample parking and that the parking is completely free. I parked at the lot on Hockley Road. This is the largest parking lot. You’ll find additional parking on 3rd Line and Dunby Rd. From the parking lot on Hockley Road, you’ll need to walk a short distance along the side of the road to reach the main trail.

Hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve

Hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve

There are three loop trails and multiple hiking trails at Hockley Valley Provincial Park. You can choose how many loop trails to tackle as it all depends on your endurance and how long you would like to go hiking. There are many hills at Hockley Valley, and I’d describe this one as a moderate hike. Don’t let this discourage you if you’re a beginner hiker. Just be prepared that you’ll be ascending and descending quite often here, which makes it more difficult than a flat hike.

The first ascent from the parking lot into the park

In one outing, I decided to hike the two southernmost loops formed by the Bruce Trail and the Tom East Side Trail, the Isabel East Side Trail, and the Glen Cross Side Trail. This is approximately 11km long. You can add the Cam Snell Side Trail for an additional few kilometres (let me know how you enjoy that one if you hike there!).

Jeju Olle – Bruce Trail Friendship Trail

Jeju Olle - Bruce Trail Friendship Trail

The Bruce Trail is a 900km hiking trail from Niagara to Tobermory across southern Ontario. Some parts of the Bruce Trail are twinned with other hiking trails around the world. For instance, a section of Short Hills Provincial Park trails are twinned with the Rim of Africa Trail. At Hockley Valley Provincial Park, a section of the Bruce Trail and its side trails are paired with the Jeju Olle.

Jeju Olle - Bruce Trail Friendship Trail

The Jeju Olle is a hiking trail on the island of Jeju, South Korea. The Jeju Olle Friendship Trail follows the exact trek that I embarked on at Hockley Valley, the two southern loop trails at the park. At the start of the Bruce Trail Friendship Trail, there’s a blue Ganse (pony) on the ground, which is the marker for the Jeju Olle Trail.

Tom East Side Trail

Tom East Side Trail - White trilliums

I started hiking first on the Tom East Side Trail. I decided to tackle all of the side trails first and spend my second half of the hike on the Bruce Trail. You’ll end up on the Bruce Trail for a short while in between the two loop trails as it runs through the entire park.

Tom East Side Trail

The Tom East Side Trail is one of the most lush and green spaces within the Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve. Throughout the whole park, there are hills, and that’s no exception here. I really enjoyed the hilly landscape. As I hiked here in mid-May, I witnessed many beautiful white trilliums along the way. You can find trilliums on the Tom East Side Trail.

Tom East Side Trail

I managed to see a woodpecker up pretty close on this trail. He hopped up the side of a tree before flying over to another one as I hiked closer towards him. A few moments later, I could hear him pecking at the tree repeatedly, the sounds echoing throughout the forest.

Bruce Trail - Hockley Valley

You’ll come to a fork in the trail where you can continue your loop back south on the Bruce Trail. This is a great option if you’re looking for a shorter hike (about 5km in total). I decided to continue north on the Bruce Trail for a lengthier trek.

Bruce Trail - Hockley Valley
The Bruce Trail
Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve
Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve
Bridges on the Bruce Trail

There are several short bridges across shallow streams on this section of the Bruce Trail. After almost 1km, you’ll reach the second loop trail, starting at the Isabel East Side Trail.

Isabel East Side Trail

Isabel East Side Trail

Continuing in a counter-clockwise direction around the loop trails, I started walking on the Isabel East Side Trail. This is where I saw the greatest abundance of white trilliums by comparison to anywhere else in the park. There were trilliums growing in clusters on both sides of the path. They are so pretty and I really can’t get enough of them.

White trilliums at Hockley Valley Provincial Park
White trilliums at Hockley Valley Provincial Park

Unfortunately, this was also when the flies started to become more abundant, too. I hadn’t noticed too many flies until that point. It’s not a problem if you keep walking. Every time I stopped to take a photo, I started to get swarmed with them. It’s just the time of year that the begin to appear. As it was mid-afternoon when they started coming out, I don’t think it’s necessarily this section of trail to blame.

Isabel East Side Trail
Isabel East Side Trail
Isabel East Side Trail

As the hilly trails continue, you’ll descend down into the forest once again. Eventually, I came across a small meadow. The trail became lined with rows of short trees. Then, I entered back into the forest for the remainder of the hike.

Glen Cross Side Trail

Glen Cross Side Trail

The Isabel East Side Trail comes to an end and you’ll immediately continue on the Glen Cross Side Trail. This forms a loop back with the Bruce Trail. All Bruce Trail side trails have blue blazes, and the main Bruce Trail has white blazes. This goes for all hiking trails that are part of the Bruce Trail system.

Glen Cross Side Trail
Glen Cross Side Trail
Glen Cross Side Trail

The Glen Cross Side Trail continued to have more trilliums (even one red trillium!) and lots of hilly terrain. As the Isabel East Side Trail had a lot of descending sections of path, the Glen Cross Side Trail had more ascending sections to balance them out.

The Bruce Trail

Bruce Trail at Hockley Valley

You can take the Bruce Trail back to the beginning or add the Cam Snell Side Trail to your hike before heading back. For me, a three hour hike across 11km of paths was just the right amount, so I didn’t venture on the Cam Snell Side Trail. I’ll leave that one for another day.

Bruce Trail at Hockley Valley
Bruce Trail at Hockley Valley

The Bruce Trail is always such a treat. Much like the Tom East Side Trail, this is a super green area of Hockley Valley Provincial Park. At one point, I even saw the shell of an old car. I have no idea how that got onto the trail, but it’s just one of those random things you can stumble upon in the forest sometimes. It looked like it had been there for an incredibly long time.

Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve
Old car remains at Hockley Valley

At the end of my hike, I began a huge descent back down to the bottom. I was really happy to be able to ease down a big hill at the end of my hike rather than hike up one!

Plan Your Visit to Hockley Valley Provincial Park

Planning your visit to Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve is easy. Parking is always free and there’s no admission charge. It’s one of the lesser visited hiking trails in Ontario. It’s likely that you’ll find parking available, even on weekends (which can’t be said for other nearby trails!).

There are three places to park, as seen in the map posted near the top of this article. Please plan accordingly as there aren’t any restrooms, facilities, or spots for a picnic here. There are a few benches scattered along the trails. Otherwise, it’s just you and nature!

What to Bring on a Hike

A proper pair of hiking shoes is an absolute must. It’s also a good idea to bring sunscreen and lots of water, too. My water bottle of choice is the GRAYL Purifier because you can drink ANY water from any source, no matter what. Water from lakes, streams, rivers, public restrooms, you name it. It’s the world’s fastest portable purifier. Get your hands on one ASAP!

Don’t forget to pack some bug spray because there can be biting bugs depending on the time of year. Even if there aren’t any signs, it’s safe to assume that ticks are all over Ontario hiking trails. Protect yourself against ticks by reading our guide to avoiding ticks on the trails.

Where to Stay Near Hockley Valley

Thinking about making a little vacation or overnight stay of it? There are lots of great accommodations in Orangeville. Go for a hike and stay a while. Explore the rest of the city, enjoy a great meal, or get cozy in a local cafe.

The incredible Hockley Valley Resort isn’t right around the corner from Hockley Valley Provincial Park. You’ll be surrounded by many more hiking trails, a renowned golf course, a winery, restaurant, and so much more. Read more about how my boyfriend, Justin and I enjoyed a memorable overnight stay at Hockley Valley Resort.

For a hotel right near downtown Orangeville, check out the Best Western Plus Orangeville Inn and Suites. It has an indoor pool, indoor hot tub, a fitness centre, spacious guest rooms with complimentary Wi-Fi, and a complimentary breakfast in the morning.

More Hiking in York Durham Headwaters Region

Looking for more York Durham Headwaters region hiking trails? Here are a few more to add to your list:

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