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Simcoe County > Departments > Forestry > Recreational Use of the Forest

Recreational Use of the Forest

​​​The County owns and manages more than 150 different forest tracts spanning 33,000 acres. Many of these tracts have public recreation trails. At this time, County forests remain open to the public; however, we strongly remind residents to respect physical distancing while using the Simcoe County Forest and our parking areas. This includes no congregating and adhering to all COVID-19 Public Health and Provincial regulations regarding gathering of people.​

If you are to be self-isolating, do not use the Simcoe County Forest. We respect that those who can get outdoors during this pandemic, may use these trails for exercise and fresh air. However, you must maintain the safe physical distance of at least two metres apart from others as per the Provincial Order.​

One of the primary roles of the County Forests is to provide for a range of passive 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; be it more active pursuits or simply enjoying nature.  Distributed throughout the County, the many forest tracts ​provide an opportunity for residents to enjoy these benefits close to home.

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 Forests, for more information on etiquette see the Code of Conduct.

Note that the County Forests are working forests; not parks.  No facilities or garbage receptacles are 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 tract.  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 Forests 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 forests.  Motorized trail riding is permitted ONLY on designated trails with a valid club membership and ONLY within some forest tracts.  Please see below for further information on permitted and non-permitted activities and visit the individual links for detailed information. 

Permitted Activities:

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



Walking and HikingWalking and Hiking<p>Passive recreational pursuits are welcome throughout the forests 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:</p><ul><li> <a href="http://www.ganaraska-hiking-trail.ca/" target="_blank">Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association</a> </li> </ul><p>Organized events within the County Forests must have a valid <a href="/Forestry/Pages/agreements.aspx">Property Use Agreement</a> 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. </p><p>Please contact Forestry staff directly to discuss fees and requirements well in advance of any planned event.</p>
Mountain BikingMountain Biking<p>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.</p><p>Unauthorized trail construction is strictly prohibited within the Simcoe County Forest.</p><p>Mountain Biking Clubs:</p><ul><li><a href="http://www.scmbc.ca/" target="_blank">Simcoe County Mountain Bike Club</a></li></ul><p>   </p>
Motorized Trail RidingMotorized Trail Riding<p>​​Off-road motorized vehicles are allowed <strong>ONLY</strong> on designated trails and <strong>ONLY</strong> 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:</p><ul style="list-style-type:disc;"><li><a href="http://www.ofsc.on.ca/" target="_blank">Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs</a> (OFSC) </li><li><a href="http://www.ofatv.org/" target="_blank">Ontario Federation of All Terrain Vehicle Clubs</a> (OFATV) </li><li><a href="http://oftr.ca/" target="_blank">Ontario Federation of Trail Riders </a>(OFTR - off-road motorcycling) </li><li><a href="http://www.scorra.ca/" target="_blank">Simcoe County Off Road Riders Association</a> (SCORRA) </li></ul><p> Joining a club offers many benefits including trail maps, trail updates, trail condition information, invitation to club events and insurance.<br></p>
Hunting and FishingHunting and Fishing<p>Hunting is regulated by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests. For more information see the <a href="https://www.ontario.ca/document/ontario-hunting-regulations-summary" target="_blank">Hunting Regulations Summary</a>.</p><p>Within<strong> </strong>the Simcoe County Forest, hunting is permitted except on the following tracts:</p><ul style="list-style-type:disc;"><li>Dyer Tract, City of Barrie</li><li>Blauxham Tract, City of Barrie</li><li>Hickling Tract, Township of Springwater</li><li>Midhurst Tract, Township of Springwater</li><li>Museum Tract, Township of Springwater</li><li>Tottenham Tract, Township of New Tecumseth</li><li>Rippon Tract, Township of Essa</li><li>Thompson Tract, Town of Penetanguishene </li><li>Thompson Tract, Township of Tiny</li><li>Charlebois Tract, Township of Tiny</li><li>Martin's Valley Tract, Town of Midland</li><li>Webb Tract, Township of Innisfil</li></ul><p>Hunters are only permitted to use portable and temporary tree stands and ladders between September 15th and January 15<sup>th</sup>.</p><p>Hunters are permitted to utilize ATV's on existing trails <span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration:underline;">ONLY</span> as follows:</p><ul style="list-style-type:disc;"><li>To allow disabled or infirm hunters access during all hunting seasons</li><li>To facilitate large game retrieval (deer and bear)</li><li>To facilitate complete access during the Controlled Deer Hunt only</li></ul><p>The above applies to ATV use only.  Prior written permission is required for accessing the County Forest using any other type of vehicle.</p><p>Hunters must be members in good standing with the <a href="http://www.ofah.org/" target="_blank">Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters</a> (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.</p><p><strong>Fishing</strong> is permitted within the Simcoe County Forest providing the angler adheres to provincial licensing and regulations.</p><font size="3"><p><em>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. </em></p></font><p> </p>
TrappingTrapping<p>Trapping licences issued by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources prior to County  ownership of the Simcoe County Forest continue to be honoured however no new trapping licences will be issued. </p>
Property Use AgreementsProperty Use Agreements<p style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;"> Organized events within the County Forests 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. If you wish to hold an organized event, please contact the County Forestry Department <span style="text-decoration:underline;">at least three months</span> prior to the planned date.  A completed copy of the <a href="/Forestry/Documents/Property%20Use%20Agreement%20Application.pdf" target="_blank">Property Use Agreement Application</a> is required.​<br></p><p>​For further information please contact:</p><h4 class="ms-rteElement-H4B">Forest & Recreation Technician</h4><h4 class="ms-rteElement-H4B">County of Simcoe</h4><h4 class="ms-rteElement-H4B">(705) 726-9300 ext. 1340</h4><h4 class="ms-rteElement-H4B">forestry@simcoe.ca </h4>
Harvesting Non-woody Forest ProductsHarvesting Non-woody Forest Products<p> <span lang="EN-US">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.</span></p>