Searching for snow at Hockley Valley: our first microadventure of 2017

I love snow. I love it when it falls softly, inaudibly, in large cottony blobs and blankets the whole world. I love how the world slows down almost to a halt, spellbound, as if trapped in a giant snow globe. I love how it muffles all sounds, softens sharp edges and turns even the ugliest urban landscapes into works of art. I love how the snow cover sparkles and squeaks under my feet on a crisp sunny day. I love to walk through a fresh layer of snow, testing its depth, drowning in its soft whiteness.

shadows on the snow

So you can understand my disappointment at Toronto’s completely snow-free state in the middle of January. There was a bit of winter magic floating in the air last week but snow quickly turned into rain washing away any signs of winter. As Saturday – and the first microadventure of 2017 – approached, I was wondering how far north we had to go to escape this snowless, lacklustre scenery.

After a bit of search, we landed on Hockley Valley. I’ve heard of the Hockley Valley Resort known for its downhill skiing but didn’t realize there was also a provincial park in the vicinity. (We could, in fact, see the ski hill across the valley). So we packed snacks, tea and snowshoes, which we ended up not using, and headed up to Orangeville.

Hockley Valley Provincial Park info panel   Hockley Valley Provincial Park map

Hockley Valley ski hill

Hockley Valley Provincial Park is located just north of Orangeville, in a small town of Mono, right off Hockley Road. Hard to get lost when the only name you have to remember is Hockley. The park is non-operating, meaning no fees. There is a small parking lot located on the northern side of Hockley Road, just east of 2nd Line. There is another access point and a parking lot on the eastern side of the park, off 3rd Line, and one more in the north. We started on Hockley Road since it was closer.

The fun awaited right on the parking lot: after Thursday’s snow/rain combination followed by sub-zero temperatures, it turned into a big skating rink. We should have packed skates instead of snowshoes .

We successfully crossed, or should I say waddled across the parking lot, walked along the road to the start of the trail and were welcomed by more ice. Our son was the first to get to the top only to slide back down to the beginning. If it was a comedy movie, we would have to do that a couple more times. Instead, we climbed over snowless patches through the bushes along the side of the trail. There were quite a few ice patched along the trail that day, but we managed to stay upright until the very end when my husband “decided” to take a short cut and slid all the way down that initial slippery slope.

hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park   hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park

Hockley Valley features a number of trails, all part of the Bruce trail system. The trails are clearly marked with maps posted at every split-off, very easy to follow.

hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park

hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park   hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park

hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park

hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park   hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park

hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park

They were also fun to hike featuring lots of ups and downs…

hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park

hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park   hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park

hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park

…ladders to climb over fences…

hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park   hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park

…deer tracks right around where a geocache was supposed to be (are deer into geocaching too?)…

deer tracks   deer tracks

…trees adorned with black lace and spotting holes drilled by some pattern-loving creature…

moss on a tree   holes in a tree trunk

…frozen, sleeping streams that were fun to walk on…

hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park   hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park

…rushing, restless streams that were fun to watch…

Hockley Valley Provincial Park

Hockley Valley Provincial Park   Hockley Valley Provincial Park

Hockley Valley Provincial Park

…and a record number of bridges.

Hockley Valley Provincial Park

hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park  hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park

hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park

hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park   hiking at Hockley Valley Provincial Park

Most importantly, we found lots of snow…

Hockley Valley Provincial Park

…and zero geocaches.

geocaching at Hockley Valley provincial park

There were five hidden in the park. We failed to locate the two hidden along the Tom East Side Trail trail, didn’t get to the ones along the Isabel East Side trail and decided to forego the last one on our way back as we were trying to get to the parking lot before dark. Not that we succeeded.

Hockley Valley Provincial Park

Hockley Valley Provincial Park

Before heading down, we caught the views of Hockley Valley in the dying light with the ski hills in the distance adorned with shining blobs.

Hockley Valley Provincial Park

Hockley Valley Provincial Park

2 thoughts on “Searching for snow at Hockley Valley: our first microadventure of 2017

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