Dog-Friendly Guide to Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

Dog-Friendly Guide to Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

Forks of the Credit Provincial Park is a compact provincial park that offers rolling meadow trails, a waterfall and escarpment views. With its up and down terrain, this trail can add some new and fun terrain challenges for you and your dog not normally found on your daily walk.

In today’s post, you’ll learn more about the provincial park itself as well as 3 of my recommended trail paths for a dog-friendly day at Forks of the Credit Provincial Park.


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Contents

This post is lengthy! Here are a few links to jump to the content you’re looking for. Enjoy!


Forks of the Credit Provincial Park Overview

This provincial park has a lot to offer in its compact space. Here’s a quick summary of the provincial park before we do a deep dive into this dog-friendly provincial park.

About Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

Two women examining Park Map at Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, Caledon, Ontario

Situated in Caledon, Ontario, Forks of the Credit Provincial Park is a popular day-use only park frequented by hikers and picnickers alike.

This compact 2.82 square kilometre provincial park features:

  • approximately 10 km of hiking trails with varying levels of difficulty
  • massive stretches of upland rolling pasture land shaped by glacial action
  • a kettle lake
  • lowland swamp forests
  • a mid-sized waterfall with bedrock exposures
  • viable cold water fishing grounds
  • designated picnic areas

Note: Please review zone 16 of the fishing regulations of Ontario, zone 16 for rules and regulations for fishing in this area.

Forks of the Credit Provincial Park Map Sign, Caledon, Ontario

Forks of the Credit was officially established as a provincial park in 1985, 17 years after the Niagara Escarpment study recommended this park to be established.

On top of its natural features, this provincial park also includes a ruin of a powerhouse/mill on a part of its trail for you to explore.

Parking

If you’re arriving by car, there is only one gated entrance to the provincial park. Currently, staff are stationed at the front of the gate to ensure only vehicles with reservations enter the park.

Once you enter the provincial park, the path will take you to the two available parking lots and the main trailhead.

The main parking lot is a gravel-based lot that can house about 50 vehicles. If this parking lot is full, loop out of the lot and turn to your immediate right to enter the secondary parking lot – an open grass field. The secondary parking lot has enough room for an additional 80 or so vehicles to park. In total, the Provincial Park has a maximum vehicle capacity of 130 cars.

Once the parking lot is full, the staff will, unfortunately, need to turn drop-in visitors away at the entrance. Updates about capacity are posted regularly to their Twitter account @ForksCreditPP.

If you’re walking or biking to the provincial park, there are two additional entryways to access the park:

  • from the North – via Cataract Rd near Forks of the Credit Inn
  • from the South – via Dominion Rd and Forks of the Credit Rd

Comfort Stations

The are vault toilets located at the comfort station near the parking lot. There is also one comfort station with vault toilets located on Dominion Trail within the park.

Notes:

  • Remember to bring hand sanitizer – there is no running water and soap provided at these toilets
  • Feminine products and other garbage other than toilet paper cannot be disposed of in a vault toilet, please use the disposal bins located outside the comfort stations to dispose your items
Related:  Ontario Provincial Parks Free Day Use in 2021

Trail Map & Trail Overview

Trail Map created on Open Street Map for Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

Forks of the Credit Provincial Park consists of 4 main trails and 2 side trails that interconnect with each other around the park. Please note that Brimstone Side Trail is also known as the Dorothy Medhurst Side Trail.

Unfortunately, the provincial park map provided by Ontario parks is cut off and does not include the additional side trails, so here is an updated trail map I created. I also added a legend to the map as well for easier reference.

Most people will most likely be visiting Forks of the Credit Provincial Park by car so I’ll go through the most popular trails closest to the entrance first.

Trails Overview

Here’s a quick summary of all the trails. If a ‘+’ is available on the left of each trail, you can click it to expand and show more details of the trail you may find interesting.

Things to do at Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

1. See the Cataract Falls

Cataract Falls by gowaterfalling.com
Cataract Falls PC: gowaterfalling.com

*NOTICE* At publish date – July 31, 2021, the Cataract Falls can only be viewed from a designated lookout point. Previous hiking trails that allowed you to walk by the waterfall are closed and no longer connect in a loop with the other trails.

Seeing the waterfall at Forks of the Credit Provincial Park is quite straightforward. There are small signs located by the entrance and along the Meadow Trail that says “Falls” with an arrow to direct you to the pathway to see the falls. By following these signs you’ll reach the Cataract Falls lookout point without any issues.

Note that this is a one-way trail toward the lookout point, meaning you will need to double-back in order to continue hiking on other trails or to head back to the parking lot.

2. Picnic at Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

Picnic Table by Kettle Lake at Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

The park has provided a couple of picnic tables within its park. There are several tables located just off to the side of the parking entrance, as well as one located by Kettle Lake immediately after you start walking on Meadow Trail.

The picnic table by Kettle Lake in particular is an especially scenic spot to take a short break. I imagine that coming here in the fall would be especially beautiful with the fall colours overlooking the lake!

3. Fishing in Credit River

Man Fishing PC: Agnes Elena Craciun from Unsplash
Man Fishing PC: Agnes Elena Craciun from Unsplash

The Credit River is home to a variety of fish including Large & Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, various species of Trout, Atlantic & Pacific Salmon, Yellow Perch, Crappie, Sunfish, and Channel Catfish. Visitors of Forks of the Credit Provincial Park can fish at this park provided visitors have a fishing license and abide by the Zone 16 fishing regulations. More details can be found here.

Did you know families can enjoy license-free fishing (following Ontario’s fishing regulations) at Forks of the Credit four times a year? Unfortunately, all of the license-free fishing dates have passed for this year but I’ve listed them below for future references:

  • Family Fishing Weekend in February (February 13 – February 15, 2021)
  • Mother’s Day Weekend in May (May 8 – May 9, 2021)
  • Father’s Day Weekend in June (June 19 – June 20, 2021)
  • Family Fishing Week in July (July 3 – July 11, 2021)

4. Cross Country Ski or Snowshoe the Trails in the Winter

Snowshoeing on winter trail
Snowshoeing on winter trail by: Andreas Brun from Unsplash

Forks of the Credit Provincial Park is open year-round so its trails are also quite popular for winter hiking as well as cross country skiing or snowshoeing.

Before You Go – Make a Reservation for your Visit

Head on over to Ontario Parks Reservations before you load your pooch and yourself into the car! Due to surging summer popularity, all provincial parks are strongly encouraging you to book your vehicle permit pass prior to visiting to secure a spot and prevent yourself from being turned away.

How far in advance can I book my Vehicle Permit Pass?

Reservation spots are open for booking 5 days before the selected date at 7:00 AM each day. E.g. if you’d like to visit on August 6, you obtain a vehicle permit pass as early as 7:00 AM on August 1.

How do I use the reservation system on Ontario Parks Reservation?

Ontario Parks Reservation Day Use Screenshot
  1. Head to Ontario Parks Reservation
  2. Select the Day Use tab to book your Daily Vehicle Permit
  3. On the Day Use tab, filter for the provincial park you are looking for
  4. Select the date you would look to visit the park
  5. If timeslot is available, a green ‘Reserve’ button will appear on the right-hand details column
  6. Confirm your reservation
  7. At ‘checkout’ you will need to create an account on Ontario Parks Reservation or sign-in with an existing one
  8. Add your vehicle details such as your license plate and the provincial jurisidation location (where the license plate is registered) / Confirm your license details
  9. Confirm your booking
Related:  Review of Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

A Dog-Friendly Day at Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

Corgi sitting on trail footpath with tongue hanging out and ears back. Background: McCormack Trail located in Hamilton, Ontario

This dog-friendly guide assumes that your dog can comfortably hike with you on a leash for a minimum of 3 KM. I have tried to start out with easier trails before writing about the more difficult terrain to keep this guide as accessible to as many dogs as possible.

However, before you hike with your own dog, know their physical limitations and plan/adjust the route according to their physical abilities. In today’s guide, I have included 3 trail recommendations to suit your needs (feel free to jump to the one that interests you the most):

  • For early morning or cool days – Trans Canada and Meadow Trail loop (3.04 KM – Allow 1 – 1.5 hours)
  • or a more challenging and quieter hike, consider adding the Bruce Trail loop to the Trans Canada and Meadow Trail Loop (Allow 3-3.5 hours)
  • Visiting the Cataract Falls double-back trail (6.58 KM round trip – Allow 2-3 hours)

For myself, I always tend to take extra rest stops and water breaks in the summer with Limone. We always turn back a little earlier than she’d like on summer hikes to prevent her from overheating and also to ensure that she has enough energy and stamina to make it back home.

Trans Canada Trail & Meadow Loop Trail | Early Morning / Cool Days (3.04 KM – Allow 1-1.5 hours)

From the parking lot, the two main trails: the Trans Canada Trail and the Meadow Trail can form a nice 3 KM loop that takes you through most of the rolling meadows that Forks of the Credit have to offer.

For this loop, I’d recommend the following path:

  1. From the parking lot, start on the Trans Canada Trail (left trail) and make your way through the rolling meadows
  2. At first intersection, keep straight on Trans Canada Trail (the trail to the right will lead you on the Kettle Lake trail instead which results in an even shorter loop connection to Meadow Trail)
  3. At the next intersection, head right on the Bruce Trail
  4. Continue for 0.5 KM until you reach the next intersection
  5. Take a right following signs for Meadow Trail
  6. Take the Meadow Trail all the way back to the parking lot

I recommend starting on the Trans Canada Trail as it is the quieter of the two trails, which will allow time for you and your dog to become more acquainted with the park with minimal distractions from other dogs and hikers.

Due to the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park layout, no matter which trail you start at (the Meadow Trail or the Trans Canada Trail), both trails offer little in terms of tree coverage and shade.

By finishing on the Meadow Trail, you and your dog can then take a well-deserved break by Kettle Lake and enjoy the lake view at the picnic table.

Bruce Trail Loop Addition | Added Challenges including Steep Slopes and Narrow Trails (6.32 KM – Allow 3-3.5 hours)

If you feel like Trans Canada and Meadow Loop Trail is a bit too short and you and your dog are looking for more of a challenge, consider adding in the Bruce Trail and Dorothy Medhurst Side Trail as well.

You and your dog will enjoy the narrower trails, steep inclines and shaded trails with this additional loop to your route. The recommended path starts and ends the same way as the previous trail, with some added directions:

  • From the parking lot, start on the Trans Canada Trail (left trail) and make your way through the rolling meadows
  • At first intersection, keep straight on Trans Canada Trail (the trail to the right will lead you on the Kettle Lake trail instead which results in an even shorter loop connection to Meadow Trail)
  • At the next intersection, head right on the Bruce Trail
  • Continue for 0.5 KM until you reach the next intersection
  • Take a left to continue on the Bruce Trail
  • At the next intersection, turn left again to stay on the Bruce Trail (right hand side should have indication for the Dominion trail)
  • Continue on the Bruce Trail until you see a small sign for the Dorothy Medhurst Side Trail
  • Turn left and ascend the Dorothy Medhurst Side Trail
  • At the next intersection, keep left to begin your loop back to the parking lot
  • Once you reach the intersection, head right to go back to the Trans Canada Trail
  • If you’d like, you can keep on this trail all the way back to the parking lot
    • or optionally head left on the Kettle Trail
    • turn right to take the Meadow Trail back to the parking lot
Related:  August 2021 - SYDE Road - Blogging Behind the Scenes

Cataract Falls | Most Popular Tourist Trail – Double-back Trail (6.58 KM – Allow 2-3 hours)

This trail at Forks of the Credit is probably the most popular trail here at Forks of the Credit as it takes visitors to the Cataract Falls lookout point. If you’re visiting Forks of the Credit Provincial Park during the weekend, you will see many hikers heading towards the Falls as well as heading back on the same footpath. However, the footpath is fairly wide and can easily allow opposite traffic with several feet of additional space on most of the footpath.

Meadow Trail toward Cataract Falls

This trail is easy to follow as you just need to follow the signs for the falls posted on Meadow Trail.

After the first 1.5 KM of the Meadow Trail, you will be taken onto a more shaded pathway as you follow the signs towards the falls. The pathway leading to the Cataract Falls features some gentle uphill and downhill slopes at the midway.

On our visit, we came across dogs of various ages (from 12 weeks to 8 years) hiking this path. While Forks of the Credit Provincial Park requires dogs to stay on leash at all times, we did see several off-leash dogs walking along this trail as well. Based on reviews on All Trails and other bloggers, this does seem to be a fairly common occurrence here at this park over several years so you may want to take this into consideration when selecting a hiking trail at this park.

Summary Dog Friendly Guide to Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

….and that concludes the dog-friendly guide to Forks of the Credit Provincial Park! I hope you enjoyed this guide on the compact but hiking-filled provincial park!

I actually really enjoyed hiking here and if you’d like to:

  • see more pictures of my mom wearing the cute Hello Kitty backpack
  • learn more about our experience hiking at Forks of the Credit Provincial Park
  • want to see even more photos of the park

then be sure to also check out my review and experience hiking at Forks of the Credit Provincial Park!

Other Hikes Near Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

If Forks of the Credit Provincial Park is not enough or if you’re turned away at the entrance for whatever reason, there are plenty of other hikes near Caledon, Ontario that you can explore as well including:


Support Forks of the Credit Provincial Park

Disclaimer: I am not being paid or earning a commission for the below. I just really like supporting our local parks!

Only a small portion of Ontario Park’s funding comes from provincial taxes. If you love visiting Forks of the Credit Provincial Park or any other Ontario Provincial Parks, here are some ways you can continue to support these provincial parks:

  • Continue visiting your parks for day-use on the weekends – part of the provincial park’s operational fees come from day-use fees
  • Consider donating to Ontario Parks
  • Supporting/Volunteering for one of the 27 ‘Friends of Ontario Parks‘ not-for-profit charitable organizations dedicating to supplementing and enhancing the provincial park experience with unique educational, recreational, research, and resource protection mandates of the parks they are affiliated with

Bruce Trail Conservancy

The Bruce Trail Conservancy (BTC) is a member-driven, volunteer-based charitable organization, governed by a 19-member Board of Directors. It is both a trail association and one of Ontario’s largest land trusts, committed to caring for the Bruce Trail and to preserving land along its route – including the Cheltenham Badlands.

Did you know that the Bruce Trail is Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath? It stretches 900 km from Niagara to Tobermory in Southern Ontario and provides the only continuous public access to the Niagara Escarpment.

However, what many people don’t realize is that the Bruce Trail is not permanently secure and that roughly one-third of the Bruce Trail corridor (that’s 300km of footpaths!) is vulnerable to development.

The BTC is working to fill in the gaps, to secure a home for the Bruce Trail and preserve a ribbon of wilderness along the Niagara Escarpment through the acquisition of land and the creation of BTC-managed protected natural areas.

You can support the Bruce Trail Conservancy by becoming a member of BTC, or volunteering your time with one of its 9 member chapters to maintain and preserve the thousands of acres of land owned by the conservancy.

Is Forks of the Credit Provincial park on your summer list? What other parks or places do you have on your list?

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Maria is the founder of SYDE Road, a blog about adventure and often-times dog-friendly traveling. She loves researching and planning for trips and is the 'project manager' for many of the small group adventures documented on this blog. She believes that while it is always best to go into a trip with a plan, the best planned trips are always the ones that have time built-in to explore and get a bit lost. Her itineraries are detailed with safety hints and tips, but are also peppered with unique travel stories and experiences that are the result of free time, getting lost, or stepping off the main trails. She aims to inspire others and give people the confidence to travel the world and get a bit sidetracked!

3 comments

  1. Terri says:

    I love how you specialize in dog friendly adventures for your blog. Now that I have adopted my Golden Retriever puppy, I love to write about our adventures in Washington DC!

    • Maria says:

      Thank you Terri! I really didn’t think to do these types of adventures until we got Limone! Now I can’t stop thinking and looking for as many dog-friendly venues and places as possible! I’ll definitely be giving your blog a research if we ever bring Limone with us to Washington DC in the future.

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