Uniting Canada's Largest Climbing Community

Is Ontario Open For Climbing?

The recent announcement that Provincial Parks and Conservation Areas would soon be open has spurred hopes that climbing will once again be allowed in Ontario. Unfortunately, after a more thorough examination of the provincial government's recent statements, it seems that climbers will have to wait a bit longer before getting out on the rock.
  •  Is Ontario Open For Climbing?

    Is Ontario Open For Climbing? Photo: Ben Iseman

What we know:
Crown Land
Climbing on Crown Land (that is not subject to any access issues) is allowed as long as individuals follow physical distancing guidelines. While this may seem like a promising option, many rural communities have requested that non-residents and seasonal visitors avoid travelling to these areas. This request is also in keeping with current recommendations regarding non-essential travel. While this may seem problematic for non-local climbers, it's worth noting that much of Ontario's Crown Land areas are now experiencing the beginning of black fly season. This alone might be enough reason to stay home.

Provincial Parks
Provincial Parks are open for activities like hiking and walking, but climbing is still not permitted. While this situation is not ideal, there is very little climbing that takes place in Provincial Parks. This reality makes the extended restrictions less of a real-world issue for most climbers. And black fly season is just beginning.

Conservation Areas
These areas contain the vast majority of climbing in Southern Ontario and are managed by regional Conservation Authorities. Conservation Halton, who is responsible for almost all of the climbing in the Milton region, has announced that they will be opening a number of their conservation areas, including Rattlesnake Point and Mount Nemo. Conservation Halton has implemented a mandatory online reservation system for two-hour-long visits. Climbing, unfortunately, is not a permitted activity in these areas at this time. Bouldering at the Niagara Glen is also not permitted. These restrictions are the most challenging for the vast majority of Ontario climbers who happen to live within an hour's drive of these areas. These climbers can take some solace in knowing that black fly season is also off to a great start in these areas – making the need to avoid climbing less painful.

You can stay up-to-date on current access conditions by visiting the Conservation Halton website (and other Conservation Authorities) and by following the Ontario Alliance of Climbers.
Join the discussion of this and other climbing related stories at www.ontarioclimbing.com/forum/
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Gus Alexandropoulos is a freelance writer who has been involved in the outdoor industry for over 35 years. During his career he has been the editor at Canada’s national climbing magazine, as well as the gear editor for a national cycling magazine, triathlon magazine and running magazine. His work has been published in Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and he has been a guest on television and radio broadcasts. His passion for climbing began in Ontario in the mid-80s and he continues to travel extensively in search of crisp conditions and steep rock.