Places to visit

Cheltenham Badlands – 6 Things to Know

The Cheltenham Badlands was created by erosion and deposition more than 400 million years ago at the base of an ancient sea. Iron oxidation is what gives them their distinctive red colour.

What led to the formation of Cheltenham Badlands is the first question that comes to mind after viewing a photo or visiting them. The site may resemble the set of a Mars-set film, but the turning round and round red hills and ravines are the outcome of erosion that was sped up by negligent agricultural methods.

1. Cheltenham Badlands Formation

The region was originally rich farmland where the early settlers raised a variety of crops; however, the agricultural techniques led to the removal of superficial topsoil, made up of highly eroded underlying Queenston shale. The shale was deteriorating at an even faster rate because of the changing seasons, creating this unusual environment.

The location, which covers an area of around 0.4 square kilometres, has features exposed and severely deteriorated Queenston shale.

The red hills were slowly revealed as the result of poor farming practices used by settlers in the 1930s wore away the vegetation over the years. High levels of iron oxide are responsible for the vivid red colour, and acidic groundwater oxidizing the red rock is what causes the greenish streaks. The chemical reaction between the circulating groundwater acidity and the shale generated the grey streaks on the badlands.

2. Location of the Cheltenham Badlands

Between Creditview and Chinguacousy Roads, on the south-eastern side of Olde baseline in Caledon Ontario, are the Cheltenham Badlands.

The Cheltenham Badlands is situated in Caledon, between the two roads: Chinguacousy Road and Creditview Road, roughly one hour’s drive from downtown Toronto, 440 kilometres (4 hours 30 minutes by car) from Ottawa, and 350 kilometres from Windsor.

From Toronto, via which transport do you travel to Cheltenham Badlands?

Take the Highway 410 exit heading toward Brampton from the Westbound 401. Following Hurontario Street, turn left onto Olde Base Road in Caledon. On Olde, Base Road is where you may park.

From the west of Mississauga, how do you reach Cheltenham Badlands?

Take the Highway 410 exit from Highway called 403 Eastbound, travel north on Hurontario Street to Olde Base Line Road in Caledon, and then turn left. The alternate route that you can take from Southeast Oakville and travel north on Erin Mills Parkway and Mississauga Road until you reach Olde Base Line Road, where you have to turn right. This route will be a little slower but has lovely views of the countryside.

3. Cheltenham Badlands Trip Plan

The Cheltenham Badlands are among Ontario’s most famous geological wonders. Learn about this distinctive geographic feature while experiencing nature’s stunning backdrop and connecting with it.

Cheltenham Badlands
By Darlene Munro/Shutterstock

Not only can you photograph this Mars-like geological feature there, but you can also explore the accessible boardwalk area of the Cheltenham Badlands. Keep in mind that you cannot enter the badlands physically (i.e., you cannot walk in the badlands)

The area features stunning Fall foliage, and the brick-red badlands set against the golden tones of the season make for an unforgettable experience.

Although it is no longer possible to physically access to enter the Cheltenham Badlands (foot traffic contributes around 10% of the area’s yearly sediment mislaying and shale erosion), you may still see them from the wooden walkway and trails in the surrounding area.

The Badlands is a well-known educational plot for tourists and geology aficionados alike due to the exposed processes on the Earth it exhibits. When visiting the property, kindly remain off the Badlands feature.

3.1. Bruce Trail Conservancy, Badlands Trail and Credit Valley Conservation

The Ontario Heritage Trust, along with its associates Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) and the Bruce Trail Conservancy, closed the area in 2015 and constructed a boardwalk that barred access to the badlands physically. 2018 saw the site’s reopening.

In 2018, the Credit Valley Conservation and the Bruce Trail Conservancy, which serves as the Ontario Heritage Trust’s managing partners, reopened the Cheltenham Badlands.

While travelling, more than 1000 meter section of the Bruce Trail or the smaller meter Badlands Trail, you can get a full perspective of the Cheltenham Badlands. Between Credit View Road beside the Badlands parking lot on Olde Base Line Road, the Bruce Trail travels; the Badlands Trail links this to the well-known shale feature.

Through new interpretive signage installed in line with the trails, you can learn more about the Badlands while taking in the breathtaking Caledon scenery that surrounds the trails along with the Badlands.

Although it is a good, simple route, it is too overcrowded. Because there is not much space, you must park far away (and run the danger of being towed) and then walk at least a kilometre down a busy road to get back. In reality, you can’t go hiking on the Side trail through the Badlands.

3.2. Nearby attractions

Explore the nearby Terra Cotta Conservation Area’s beautiful lakes, gullies, woodlands, and hiking trails or Belfountain Conservation Area’s breathtaking falls, dropping bridges, and gorgeous greenery.

At Spirit Tree Estate Cidery, taste the best ciders that Caledon has to offer. You will be adamant to cap up your time of the day of exploring with a happy fizzle at this local establishment that serves handcrafted artisan hard ciders, stone oven bread, and pastries.

Cheltenham Badlands
By Eltonlaw/Shutterstock

4. Facilities in Cheltenham Badland

4.1. A Wheelchair Is Accessible in Cheltenham Badlands

Public halls that are open and large enough to accommodate wheelchairs and any other portability aids should have a clear path through them.

4.2. Accessible Parking Space in Cheltenham Badlands

More than one special parking lot has been reserved with a clear, safe path leading from the deputed parking area to a reachable building entrance. Enjoy the scenery but remember to park sensibly in the parking area.

5. Additional Information About Cheltenham Badlands

An important Earth Science Area of Natural and Scientific Interest for the province has been established for the Cheltenham Badlands property (ANSI). The site is designated as an Environmentally Significant Location due to its significance as a groundwater discharge area, where groundwater emerges into streams from the escarpment (ESA).

A tributary of the Credit River, the coldwater brook is located on the property at the base of the exposed badlands. Due to the variety of habitat types, the area can support rare plants including butternut and prairie sundrops.

In the past, tourists were permitted to stroll over the formation in this unusual setting, which was entirely open. As a result, the delicate red shale surface experienced faster erosion, permanently altering the Badland’s distinctive appearance.

Cheltenham Badlands
By Olga Gabay/Shutterstock

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. When to visit Cheltenham Badlands?

Till the end of October, the morning time is the ideal time to visit the Cheltenham Badlands. From late October till May or June during the winter, the Cheltenham Badlands are closed.

2. Can you walk on the Cheltenham Badlands?

No, you cannot walk on the Cheltenham Badlands, the reason being to prevent erosion.

3. Is Cheltenham Badlands free?

There is a parking fee but that is it!

The Footnote

One of Ontario’s natural marvels, the Cheltenham Badlands was created 450 million years ago at the base of an old sea. One of southern Ontario’s most iconic and well-visited natural heritage landmarks is located on the 36-hectare (91-acre) site, which is a significant area of Natural and Scientific Interest on a provincial level.

To prevent erosion and damage to this sensitive feature, visitors must always stay on the accessible boardwalk and trail. They should respect the beauty and creativity of such an awe-struck site. Come, explore, enjoy and spent time with family and friends but never think of harming such sites.

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