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Recreational Use

One of the primary roles of the County Forest is to provide for a range of recreational pursuits for County residents and tourists alike. 

Many studies have shown substantial benefits to the health and well-being of those who spend time in our natural environment. This includes more active pursuits or simply enjoying nature.  Located throughout the County, the many Simcoe County Forest Properties​ ​provide an opportunity for residents to enjoy these benefits close to home with over 720km of recreation trails established and maintained by volunteers.

A Recreation Policy and Recreation Bylaw is in place to ensure that all responsible users of the forest are able to continue to enjoy their recreational pursuits.

 Please enjoy your visit to the Simcoe County Forest, for more information on etiquette see the Code of Conduct.

The County Forest is a working forest, not a park which means there are no facilities or garbage receptacles provided so please plan accordingly.  Sustainable timber harvesting is done on a rotating basis and could happen at any time of year and within any forest property.  Plan your recreational pursuit with this in mind and use the forestry mapping application to see where scheduled harvesting is taking place.

Hunting is permitted in all County Forest except those listed below under the hunting and fishing tab. Be courteous and respectful of all outdoor enthusiasts, hunters and non-hunters alike. You can enjoy the forest safely year round, however you may want to know the hunting season before heading out. If you are out during hunting seasons consider the following tips:

  • Avoid using the County Forest at dusk and dawn
  • Wear bright orange when using the County Forest
  • Place brightly coloured markers on horses, dogs, or other pets
  • Make noise

Non-motorized recreational pursuits are welcome throughout the forest​.  Motorized trail riding is permitted ONLY on designated trails with a valid club membership and ONLY within some forest properties​​​​.  Please see bel​ow for further information on permitted and non-permitted activities and visit the individual links for detailed information. 

Permitted Activities:

  • Walking and hiking
  • Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing
  • Orienteering and geocaching
  • Nature appreciation and study
  • Horseback riding
  • Dog walking – Pets must be under control or on leash
  • Harvesting of non-wood forest products for personal use only

Permitted Activities With Restrictions: 

Activities Not Permitted:

  • Operation of motor vehicles (Cars, Trucks) except to access designated parking areas
  • Littering, dumping, or disposal of any foreign material including yard waste
  • Open fires
  • Camping
  • Consumption of alcohol
  • Target practice / patterning or sighting of firearms
  • Paintball
  • Cutting, pruning, digging or gathering of trees, shrubs, groundcover or firewood
  • Construction of unauthorized structures, trails, permanent tree stands
  • Disturbance or removal of any object of potential archaeological significance
  • Digging or the use of a metal detector
  • Placement of unauthorized signs

Usage information

Walking and Hiking

Non-motorized recreational pursuits are welcome throughout the Simcoe County Forest including walking, hiking, bird watching, orienteering, snowshoeing or dog walking.  Dogs must be under control or on a  leash.  All designated hiking trails are constructed and maintained by volunteers – please consider providing your support by joining a local club:

Organized events within the County Forest​ must have a valid Property Use Agreement in effect and comply with the Recreation Policy.  This includes any activity which is advertised or if participants are charged a fee, but does not include organized hikes or nature walks.

Please contact Forestry staff directly to discuss fees and requirements well in advance of any planned event.

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is permitted within the Simcoe County Forest.  Many established trails exist throughout the region and are maintained thanks to the cooperation of local riding clubs.  Please consider giving back to the sport and becoming a member of a local club to help keep the trails network maintained and growing.  Joining a club offers many benefits including trail maps, trail updates, trail condition information, invitation to club events and insurance.

Unauthorized trail construction is strictly prohibited within the Simcoe County Forest.

Mountain Biking Clubs:​

​​*ATV and Off-Road Motorcycle Trails are closed yearly from December 1 until May 1*

​​​Off-road motorized vehicles are allowed ONLY on​ designated trails and ONLY with a valid permit.  You must be a club member and in good standing to legally ride.  Please be part of the solution and join one of the local clubs working to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all users:

 Joining a club offers many benefits including trail maps, trail updates, trail condition information, invitation to club events and insurance.

​Hunting is regulated by the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry. For m​ore information see the Hunting Regulations Summary.

Within the Simcoe County Forest, hunting is permitted except on the following tracts:

  • Dyer Tract, City of Barrie
  • Blauxham Tract, City of Barrie
  • Hickling Tract, Township of Springwater
  • Midhurst Tract, Township of Springwater
  • Museum Tract, Township of Springwater
  • Tottenham Tract, Township of New Tecumseth
  • Rippon Tract, Township of Essa
  • Thompson Tract, Town of Penetanguishene
  • Thompson Tract, Township of Tiny
  • Charlebois Tract, Township of Tiny
  • Martin’s Valley Tract, Town of Midland
  • Webb Tract, Township of Innisfil

Hunters are only permitted to use portable and temporary tree stands and ladders between September 15th and January 15th.

Hunters are permitted to utilize ATV’s on existing trails ONLY as follows:

  • To allow disabled or infirm hunters access during all hunting seasons
  • To facilitate large game retrieval (deer and bear)
  • To facilitate complete access during the Controlled Deer Hunt only

The above applies to ATV use only.  Prior written permission is required for accessing the County Forest using any other type of vehicle.

Hunters must be members in good standing with the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH). This provides liability insurance for hunters on County lands and provides for improved communications with hunters through OFAH. Additionally, OFAH members receive current information and appropriate messaging with regard to hunting etiquette and safety.

Fishing is permitted within the Simcoe County Forest providing the angler adheres to provincial licensing and regulations.

Notwithstanding the above, the Simcoe County Forest Recreation Policy does not limit or supersede any recognized constitutional rights of indigenous peoples to hunt or fish within the SCF.

Gathering of mushrooms, fiddleheads and other naturally occurring edible and medicinal products has been growing substantially in popularity.  While generally considered to be a healthy and harmless activity, there is growing concern among experts that over harvesting may be impacting the sustainability of some species in some locations.  As such, the harvesting of non-wood forest products is permitted within the Simcoe County Forest for personal use only.  The collecting of non-woody forest products for commercial use is strictly prohibited.

​​All designated trails are maintained by volunteers. Please consider membership in a local club to help keep the trail network maintained and growing.  Joining a club offers many benefits including trail maps, trail updates, trail condition information, invitations to club events and insurance.

Local Hiking/Cycling Clubs

Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association (GHTA)

The nine member clubs of the Association maintain the 500 km Ganaraska Hiking Trail from Port Hope on Lake Ontario to the Bruce Trail near Collingwood, with side trails to Wasaga Beach and Midland. The Association is run by a Board of Volunteers drawn from the member clubs.

Simcoe County Mountain Bike Club (SCMBC)

SCMBC was established to build & maintain recreational mountain bike trails for mountain bikers in Simcoe County.

Off-Road Motorized Vehicle Clubs

Off-road motorized vehicles are allowed ONLY on designated trails and ONLY with a valid permit.  You must be a club member and in good standing to legally ride.

Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC)

OFSC maintains over 1000km of snowmobile trails throughout Simcoe County. There are a number of local clubs that share the responsibility of maintaining these trails each year. 

Central Ontario All Terrain Vehicle Club (COATV)

COATV is a volunteer driven club building and maintaining an environmentally sustainable ATV trail system connecting people & communities while creating tourism opportunities in Simcoe County.

Simcoe County Off-Road Riders Association (SCORRA)

SCORRA is a family oriented off-road motorcycle riders club formed in December 2006. The club has quickly grown to become the largest off-road riding club in Ontario with over 1200 members and 220km of designated trails.