Crawford Lake Conservation Area

Explore Crawford Lake Conservation Area, a 94 hectare nature preserve that’s part of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve. At the heart of this conservation area is Crawford Lake, a rare meromictic body of water, as well as a reconstructed 15th century Iroquoian village.  

Crawford Lake Conservation Area is located outside the town of Milton. It is just over 60 km from Toronto, about an hour drive by car along the ON-401 Highway West. It is only half an hour drive north of Hamilton. 

Get details and up-to-date information about Crawford Lake Conservation Area by visiting Conservation Halton’s official website. To learn more about things to do and places to explore nearby, keep reading to see Destination Ontario’s recommendations. 

More about Crawford Lake Conservation Area

At the heart of Crawford Lake Conservation Area is the eponymous Crawford Lake, a rare meromictic lake. This means that unlike most bodies of water, its water layers do not mix, which has kept the lake bed undisturbed for centuries. This unique quality of Crawford Lake has made it an ideal site for archaeological studies. Pollen analysis of the surrounding area revealed it to have been the site of a pre-contact settlement of Iroquoian peoples in the 15th century.  

Archaeological excavations from 1973 to 1987 uncovered 11 15th century longhouses, along with over 10,000 artifacts, all of which paint a picture of how the Iroquoian people went about their day-to-day lives over 600 years ago. Visitors can peer into the past in the Longhouse Village, a meticulously reconstructed replica of the 15th century village. Learn about what a daywas like in the life of an Iroquoian-speaking Wendat-Huron villager by participating in interpretative programs, simulated digs and observing the displays of contemporary indigenous art and artifacts, including the old village’s original corn grinding stone on display. Visitors with a sweet tooth are in for a treat at the Sweet Water Season event. During this spring festival, interpreters demonstrate how the Iroquoians made sweet water. Taste the gooey maple syrup before setting off for an adventure along the conservation area’s many picturesque trails. 

Animal lovers of all ages will enjoy exploring and bicycling along the Hide and Seek Trail, which is dotted with larger than life wooden carvings of at-risk Ontario species like the hooded warbler, monarch butterfly, Jefferson salamander and snapping turtle. Take a scenic walk on the 1.4 km elevated boardwalk that wraps around the lake and keep an eye out for snapping turtles lazily paddling near the surface.  

Additional trails include the Pine Ridge Trail or the Woodland Trail. In winter, go on Moonlight Guided Snowshoe Hikes through the magical snowy landscapes under the stars and end the night around a warm fire with a cup of hot chocolate. Or go cross-country skiing along the Pine Ridge Trail.  

Adventurous hikers can make a day of hiking the 7.4 km Nassagaweya Canyon Trail, which leads to the neighbouring Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area with its 800-year-old cedar trees and limestone cliffs.  

Extend your trip by exploring nearby natural attractions, such as Mount Nemo Conservation Area, Kelso Conservation Area and Livingston Park in the town of Milton. Shoppers, gourmands and lovers of organic goods will enjoy the various country stores in Milton. There are several excellent public golf courses in the area and train enthusiasts will appreciate the Halton County Radial Railway, a working museum of electric streetcars and trolleybuses. 

Last updated: August 18, 2023

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