Wed. Nov 29th, 2023
What to Know Before Visiting Pretty River Valley Provincial Park

Pretty River Valley Provincial Park is located on the Niagara Escarpment and is an important part of the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The park is home to a multitude of species, ecosystems and sensitive habitats, all of which Ontario Parks is seeking to protect.

Your actions as a visitor can help us maintain this unique park as a refuge for the many organisms that inhabit it, as well as a beautiful place for generations of park users to visit.

The most important thing to keep in mind before your visit is that Pretty River Valley Provincial Park is a non-operational provincial park.

What does this mean? Well, there are simply no staff or facilities located within the park. That also means no bathrooms.

Visitors use this park at their own risk. For more information about the park, call the Wasaga Beach Provincial Park office at 705-429-2516.

Now, here are our tips on how to have a successful visit to Pretty River Valley Provincial Park:

1. When is the best/worst time to visit?

Pretty River Valley is busiest on weekends.

Weekdays are the best time to visit; However, on nice days, the parking lot can also fill up quickly, so plan accordingly. If you MUST visit on a weekend, plan to arrive early.

cars parked on the side of the road

If the park is full when you arrive (no parking available), please delay your visit for another time.

2. How do I get to the park?

Pretty River Valley Provincial Park is located southwest of Collingwood.

There are multiple access points to the park’s trail systems:

  • Mountain bike – 6th Side Road / 2nd Line
  • hiking – Nice river path

Limited parking is available, especially during the snow season.

3. Where can I park?

Park in a designated parking spot and obey all signs. This is especially critical for winter visits.

It is important to ensure that adjacent roads are kept open for emergency vehicles and snow removal. Otherwise, cars could be towed and/or fined.

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cars parked along the road

The environmental impacts on this special place increase exponentially when it is overcrowded, so keep a simple rule in mind: If there is no room to park, there is no room for you on the trail.

4. What do I do when the parking lot is full?

There are other nearby provincial parks that are not operating:

However, keep in mind that if Pretty River Valley is full, these parks likely are too.

These parks are also non-operating parks and therefore operate under the same rules and regulations as Pretty River Valley. Please park responsibly and ensure roads are kept open for emergency vehicles and snow removal.

5. Does Pretty River Valley allow camping?

No. Camping, including backcountry camping, is not permitted in Pretty River Valley Provincial Park or any other non-operational provincial park in the area.

If you are planning a trip during the camping season, the closest provincial park campgrounds are:

6. Is hunting allowed in the park?

Yes. If you visit the park during any open hunting season, please use caution, especially during deer season in late fall and early winter, and for your safety, “hunter orange” clothing is highly recommended.

For more information about hunting seasons in the Pretty River Valley, see Ontario Hunting Regulations or call the Wasaga Beach Provincial Park office at 705-429-2516.

7. Can you recommend any places to hike other than Pretty River Valley?

Bronte Creek Provincial Park in Oakville has five great hiking trails. The 50m deep Bronte Creek ravine is a photogenic feature.

Darlington Provincial Park in Bowmanville has four hiking trails and is also located along the 350 km Waterfront Trail that follows the shore of Lake Ontario from Niagara-on-the-lake to Trenton.

pathDarlington Provincial Park

Earl Rowe Provincial Park offers six hiking trails, including the Lookout Trail that leads to an observation deck overlooking the park and surrounding area.

If you’re willing to venture further afield from the GTA, MacGregor Point Provincial Park features a collection of biking and hiking trails, with several routes along Lake Huron’s stunning shoreline. You can’t miss the sunsets here!

8. Can I ride my ATV and/or snowmobile in the park?

All-terrain vehicles are NO allowed anywhere in Pretty River Valley Provincial Park.

Snowmobiles allowed on Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) trails ONLY. For information on snowmobile trail locations and conditions, visit the OFSC Interactive Trail Map.

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For more information on the rules and regulations within the provincial park, please contact the Park Office at 705-429-2516.

9. Where can I mountain bike in the park??

Mountain biking is allowed in the northern section of Pretty River Valley Provincial Park.

A guy on a bicycle, walking through the forest.

Riders will find that Pretty River Valley is home to a 40+km network of advanced singletrack. Here’s what you should know:

  • these trails are NO suitable for beginners
  • follow the trail and don’t take shortcuts
  • If you can’t ride a section of the trail, walk your bike; don’t think a walk around
  • keep a single track

Remember to keep other trail users in mind, as Pretty River Valley is home to multiple trail networks for both hikers and bikers.

For more information on mountain bike trails, use Trail Forks.

10. What should/shouldn’t I pack?

If you visit in summer

Plan to bring sunscreen, a hat, water, snacks, and a good pair of walking shoes.

Ticks are also common in much of Ontario, including the Pretty River Valley. For tips on how to protect yourself, review our blog on tick safety.

If you visit in winter*

Dress in warm clothing (layers are best), including wool socks and a good pair of winter boots. Pack a change of socks in case your feet get wet, a hot drink, water, and snacks.

Pair of snowshoes along trail

Be aware of your body’s limits and plan your route so you don’t stray too far from your vehicle. It’s also important to familiarize yourself with the park before you arrive and make sure you have a good map of the area.

*be careful during deer hunting season in late fall and early winter; For your safety, it is highly recommended to wear “hunter” orange clothing during this time.

What you should leave at home:

Please do not bring alcohol or firewood. Please remember that fires are not allowed in the park at any time and violators will be fined.

Also, try to limit the amount of food packaging and other disposable items you carry with you. Disposal of garbage and waste in non-designated areas is unacceptable and fines are imposed.

soda can stuck in a treeCome on, friends, we can do better than this…

Remember: we all share responsibility and stewardship of our protected spaces. If you pack it in, take it out.

11. How can I help protect and preserve the park for future users?

stream in the forestYou can help preserve our park for future generations by obeying park signs and regulations.

Use established trails and stay on the path. Going off trail damages habitats and puts species at risk.

It is also prohibited to remove plants or natural objects from provincial parks. Please refrain from picking flowers, picking mushrooms or any other action that removes a natural object from the park.

Take your trash home with you!

cup of coffee at a trail sign on a hiking trailThis is not a trash can! Please dispose of all trash responsibly. If you pack it, pack it!

Nothing ruins a visit to a beautiful natural area more than coming across someone else’s discarded coffee cup.

If you bring it, take it out.

We must all work together to protect Ontario’s natural world. Thank you, fellow environmentalists!