Please recommend free nature and wildlife areas, ideally with a body of water, located anywhere, but NO further west than Guelph and Brantford, Ontario. I welcome suggestions in the Niagara region, excluding Niagara Falls.

I already know of Belwood Lake and Guelph Lake (in Guelph), Island Lake (in Orangevlle), Webster's Falls (in Hamilton), and Ball's Falls Conservation Area (in Jordan, ON), but all such reserves are operated by official conservation areas which demand admissions fees.

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  • Will a hike along a rural trail with a nearby lake do? – DJClayworth Aug 10 '15 at 18:50
  • @DJClayworth Can it accessed by car though? – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Aug 19 '15 at 17:22

Mono Cliffs Provincial Park has some excellent hiking. It includes a small lake (really more of a good-sized pond) called McCarston's Lake, which can be hiked to:

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(Picture from Flickr user jbcurio, used under Creative Commons License.) There are also various smaller streams and ponds running through the park.

There are two things, however, that may not make this a good answer to your question. One is that although this is not "west of Guelph", it is well north of it (and Brampton as well.) If you're coming from the Niagara area, then it might be a bit of a drive.

The other caveat is that it's a provincial park, and so there's a vehicle entry fee for the front entrance. However, when I visited in May 2013, it was possible to park along the back side of the park and enter the trail system on foot. If you consult the park map, the road you want is marked "2nd Line EHS". Nominally, I believe you're supposed to pay a $2/person walk-in fee; however, I don't recall there being any way to actually pay it at that entrance.

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