The yipping calls of coyotes sometimes punctuate an evening’s walk through the Willoughby Nature Reserve, a 50-hectare (123-acre) property tucked into the beautiful Caledon Hills. This nature reserve was generously donated to Ontario Nature by the late Nordica Willoughby.
Two branches of Silver Creek, a tributary of the Credit River, have carved valleys into the reserve’s undulating landscape. The surrounding Caledon Hills actually form part of the western end of the Oak Ridges Moraine – that enormous legacy of the last glaciation.
Plants and Animals
The animal and plant life found on the reserve is representative of the region and – for an area so close to Toronto – remarkably undisturbed. Resident species include white-tailed deer, coyotes, great-horned owls, pileated woodpeckers, and eastern bluebirds.
Much of the reserve is recognized as a significant natural area in the Niagara Escarpment Plan, which helps to protect the forest cover and natural landscape.
Blanketing more than half of this rolling land is a mature forest of mixed hardwoods and softwoods. Little cutting appears to have occurred in these woods for close to two centuries. Beautiful displays of ephemeral spring flowers dot the forest floor. During the 1960s, much of the northeastern portion of the property, which had been cleared for farm fields, was replanted with white, red and Scot’s pine as well as white spruce, which are now quite tall.
Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, as well as the Glen Haffy, Palgrave and Albion Hills Conservation Areas, are all nearby.
The nature reserve is located five kilometres south of Caledon Village. From Highway 10, take The Grange Sideroad northeast. Turn left on Kennedy Road. The property, on the west side of Kennedy Road, will be recognizable by the coniferous plantations along the fence and an Ontario Nature sign.
The entrance is just north of the St. Cornelius Church on the opposite side of the road and can be found on Google Maps. A hiking trail, marked by blue signs, begins at the nature reserve entrance. The houses near Highway 10 are occupied; so please respect the residents’ privacy.