When you visit Crawford Lake, you create your own adventure. Visit in any season and you’ll find outdoor activities and events you’ll like, and so close to home.
Explore the Iroquoian village and learn about local First Nations history. Sample warm and gooey maple taffy during Sweet Water Season. Watch the turtles paddling in the meromictic lake on a walk around the boardwalk. Enjoy a day hike from Crawford Lake through the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail, and journey to Rattlesnake Point. Bring your friends and cross-country ski on the Pine Ridge trail, or join a Moonlight Snowshoe hike.
Come back again and again, and you’ll discover something new at Crawford Lake. Why not host your child’s birthday party here for a one-of-a-kind party?
You’ll enjoy unique, cultural and outdoor learning adventures at Crawford Lake. If you’re a teacher, make Crawford Lake the classroom for the day, and visit our Education pages for field trip information. Stop in to the gift shop while you’re at Crawford Lake. The Visitor Centre is open from 10 am to 4 pm.
Spring/Summer at Crawford Lake
After winter has swept through Crawford Lake, tiny green buds perk up on the trails off of the boardwalk surrounding the meromictic lake. During the spring, treat your taste buds to Sweet Water Season--the sweetest festival at Crawford Lake in the Iroquoian village. Learn how the Iroquoian peoples prepared ‘sweet water’, before sampling gooey maple syrup in a demonstration. After a tasty snack, feel the return of the birds and nature, and explore the Hide and Seek trail. Along the way, you’ll see complex wood carvings of Species at Risk like the Monarch Butterfly, the Hooded Warbler, and the mascot of spring: the Jefferson Salamander.
Around this time of year, the Jefferson Salamanders migrate to vernal pools to lay their eggs. On your way back, from a hike around the lake, detour and take a self-guided Moccasin Walk on the Woodland trail. Those with an adventurous nature can turn their visit into a day trip on the Nassagaweya Canyon trail. Hike 4.6 km from Crawford Lake over to Rattlesnake Point. Take the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail in the summer, and you’ll see the turkey vultures careening overhead, adrift on the thermals. If you’re not after a challenging hike, but are eager to learn more about the Iroquoian Village, regular programming like Longhouse Lore and the Season of the Three Sisters will have you learning about fire-making techniques, and the importance of corn, squash, and beans, to the First Nations. Otherwise, on a hot summer day, pack a lunch and bring your family for a picnic near the shores of the lake, and watch the turtles paddling in the water.
Fall at Crawford Lake
Crawford Lake Conservation Area explodes in a fire of colour in autumn. Shutterbugs, prepare your lenses for the beauty of the red, orange, and yellow fall colours reflected on the meromictic lake. Take your time and walk around the boardwalk for the full effect of the autumnal season at Crawford.
A trip to Crawford Lake isn’t complete without a stop in the Iroquoian village. Visit the Deer Clan Longhouse and see the art exhibit currently on display. Visit the grinding stone artifact in the village and imagine what Crawford Lake was like 600 years ago, pre-contact.
Participate in the Season of Falling Leaves program to learn about the autumn harvest for the Iroquoian peoples. Hike to the Nassagaweya Canyon Lookout for a flawless view of the Niagara Escarpment coated in the fall colours. Join us for the Fall Into Nature festival for extra special events, like a BBQ, reptile and bird shows, and fire-making demonstrations.
After you’ve fallen into nature, explore the trails in autumn. Go and gaze at the mix of colours of the meadows, woodlands, and pine plantations on the Pine Ridge trail. Guide yourself on the Moccasin Walk on the Woodland Trail. If you’re feeling strong and adventurous, pack fall fare like apples in your knapsack and make a day of it: hike to Rattlesnake Point and back on the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail. The Turkey Vultures are still soaring on the thermals overhead, even if many of the nature’s friends like the Jefferson Salamander and the Monarch butterflies are hiding away until spring. You can still visit the Jefferson Salamander and Monarch Butterfly wood carvings on the Hide and Seek Trail: the carvings spread awareness of species at risk. Test your knowledge and guess the species of each carving!
Winter at Crawford Lake
When snow is on the ground at Crawford Lake, a quiet hush comes over park. The snow sparkles on the Hide and Seek trail. The wooden sculptures on the Hide and Seek Trail stand out against a snowy backdrop. Stop and look at each sculpture and learn about each species at risk. The meromictic lake is frozen over, and blends beautifully into the trees and the shore. What could be more romantic than a moonlight snowshoe hike to the lake? Join us for the Moonlight Guided Snowshoe Hikes. Take your date on this traditionally Canadian experience: the stars sparkle, the moon shines, and the snowy landscape glows. After the hike, get cozy by a fire and drink hot chocolate.
If you’re after brisk exercise, try cross-country skiing on the Pine Ridge Trail. You’ll trek through frosted pine tree plantations while you make your own path down the trail. The trail isn’t groomed so you’ll warm up during this winter work-out!
When you return from a long snowshoe hike, or cross-country skiing, warm up at the Visitor Centre. Peruse the gift shop, and then once you’ve warmed up, head on over to the Deer Clan longhouse to see the most current art exhibit, and play a round of snowsnakes in the Iroquoian village before you head home.
Hide & Seek Trail
Learn about Species at Risk as you follow along the Hide and Seek Trail and view our larger than life wooden carvings. The Hide and Seek Trail is located along the blue Crawford Lake Trail as you head toward the lake.Learn More
Visit the reconstructed 15th century Iroquoian village, and explore local history. From 1973 to 1987, excavations uncovered 11 longhouses on the site and various artefacts from day-to-day lives of the pre-contact First Nations groups. Three of these longhouses have been reconstructed on the exact footprints of the archaeological findings. Peaceful flute music plays softly while you wander around the village and delve deeper into the history and culture of these original settlers. Learn about their daily lives through Interpretive programs, including simulated digs and presentations on life in the 15th century. The state-of-the-art Deer Clan Longhouse recently opened in 2014, and features seasonal contemporary art exhibits from local First Nations artists.
Join Crawford Lake staff every weekday at 2:15pm for a tour of the Iroquoian Village! The tour begins in the Crawford Lake Visitor Centre with an introductory video, and then through the palisaded entrance to take you back in time in the reconstructed 15th Century Iroquoian Village. The tour finishes with a circle gathering and fire starting in the Turtle Clan Longhouse where you can see, touch and smell history.
The heart of the park is the eponymous meromictic lake: Crawford Lake. Do you know what makes this lake a rarity? The lake is deeper than its surface area, so the lowest levels of water are very rarely disturbed, and little oxygen reaches the lowest levels. It’s the unique qualities of a meromictic lake that led to an exciting discovery—where science unveiled local history. Researchers and scientists found ancient corn pollen deep in the sediment of the lake. The presence of corn meant settlements, and thus this began the research, which concluded, that First Nations groups settled in this area over six hundred years ago. Today, enjoy a stroll around the lake on the boardwalk and contemplate how science and natural history brought us to the park we have today.
Nassagaweya Canyon Trail
The earthen trail connects two parks, Crawford Lake and Rattlesnake Point. Experience the Iroquoian Village, the meromictic lake, and the wooden carvings on the Hide & Seek Trail at Crawford Lake before undertaking a journey through nature past breath-taking views to Rattlesnake Point while the Turkey Vultures soar overheard. A roundtrip hike between the parks will take roughly 4-5 hours.