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Bannockburn Trail: Mission 1000 Hours Outside

We have been looking forward to our week at the cottage all summer long and it’s almost over, one more day of vacation! Life really does fly by when you are having fun. One of the highlights of our week was something so simple, a family hike in a beautiful conservation area not too far from our cottage. I wanted to highlight it here on the blog in case there are any local people following along. I highly recommend this nature trail and wanted to share it with everyone.

Hunter getting a kiss from his Momma.

My husband grew up in Huron County so he knows the area very well, but this was one spot that he actually hadn’t ventured to before. I did a very quick google search “best hiking trails near me” and this was the top choice that came up. So we packed up our daughter, our dog and some snacks and off we went.

Bannockburn Conservation Area is part of the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority which is an area within Southwestern Ontario that is located close to the southeast shores of Lake Huron. There is approximately 2400 square kilometers of watershed area that is protected. The parking area to access the trail head is located at 76249 Bannockburn Line just outside Varna, ON.

Mckenna following Hunter down the boardwalk trail.

We drove down a long gravel road and the parking lot was fairly hidden, so make sure to look for the signs or follow your GPS closely. The start of the trail is all boardwalk over the swamp and our daughter absolutely loved this part of our hike. It had some nice viewing areas and also great informational points of interest signs describing the plants and animals we might see. We were very impressed with this area, as it would require a lot of maintenance and it looked to be in perfect condition.

There were some stairs to climb and we discovered a really cool tepee that someone had built with the fallen trees. I think Chauncey was more excited about this find than Mckenna!

Chauncey and Mckenna exploring the tree tepee.

We do our best to spend as much time outside with our daughter as we can. As new parents we often discuss how we want to raise our daughter and what is important to us as a family. We both instinctively felt that outside time was very important, and that is why we have always made it a priority. We both grew up spending the majority of our childhoods outside, Chauncey in a small town and myself on a farm. It was a different era when mothers told you to get outside and find something to do! We want Mckenna to have as much outdoor playtime as we had or even more.

On that same topic, I started following a great blog (and Instagram) that I think you may want to check out; 1000 Hours Outside. They are a family of seven, located in Michigan and they have started a movement to encourage families to spend a thousand hours outside per year. They did some research that you can check out on their website and what they discovered was that the ideal time for children to spend outside is 4-6 hours per day. Yes you read that right 4-6 hours PER DAY! It seems like a lot of time and a huge undertaking especially in our colder climate, but I still love the concept. We aren’t tracking our hours but if you’d like to follow along with them and track your hours they have a free printable download on their website.

Now back to our hike at Bannockburn. We didn’t have much time to continue down the trail as we had to get back for lunch and afternoon nap. We cut the hike shorter than we would have liked but nap time is very important in our house!

We will definitely be back and try to explore a bit more. Mckenna really loved being in the Phil and Ted carrier towards the end of the walk when her little legs were getting a bit tired. We have only used it a few times and so far so good! We purchased ours used on Facebook marketplace, we only paid $40! I have included the Amazon link above to a similar carrier, but it is pricey so if you can find a used one I would recommend it.

Chauncey and Mckenna watching the fish in the stream below.

Overall I would highly recommend this trail system and I think it will be especially pretty in the Fall with the leaves changing. If you have any trails in Ontario that you like exploring, I would love to hear from you. Drop a comment below or send me a message on my Instagram. We love exploring new areas and are always up for an adventure.

Link to Bannockburn Guide:

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