Lonely Planet Writer

Ontario's Cheltenham Badlands to reopen this summer

The Cheltenham Badlands, a small expanse of exposed shale in Caledon, Ontario popular with tourists, is on track to be reopened this summer. The site, less than an hour from downtown Toronto, has been closed since 2015 because of excess erosion and vandalism.

Blazing autumn colours at Cheltenham Badlands. Image by Lisa Stokes/Getty Images

The exposed bedrock at the Badlands was deposited more than 445 million years ago. After poor farming practices in the early 1900s, the shale eroded into a striking and distinctive landscape of small hills and valleys. Before it was closed an increasing number of visitors were accessing the area, damaging the sensitive formations and making permanent changes. During the busy season, more than 2000 people could visit the Badlands in a day.

Originally planned to be reopened later, the timetable was moved up when the Ontario Heritage Trust (OHT), owners of the site, received a $115,000 grant from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (Fed Dev) as part of its Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program. Those funds were matched by OHT donors, bringing the total of new funds to $230,000.

Cheltenham Badlands, Ontario, Canada. Image by Justin Lo/Getty Images

Once finished, the project will consist of a new parking lot, upgraded fencing, a viewing area, rehabilitated trails, and connection to the existing Bruce Trail. It will also enhance safety measures and “introduce new trail wayfinding and onsite/virtual interpretive features,” according to the OHT. “The development of the Master Plan for the site is ongoing,” Kimberly Murphy of the Ontario Heritage Trust told Caledon Enterprise. “The plan will outline the long-term vision for the site as well as identifying major projects, new trails and other potential site enhancements to be implemented in phases.”

For more information, and to help in preservation efforts, see the OHT web site here.