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Exploring Copeland

There are approximately 26 kilometres of double track trails and 55 kilometres of single track trails.

“ I don’t know how I would get through my work week without visits to Copeland Forest in the evening.” – Local resident

At 4,400 acres (1,760 hectares), the Copeland Forest is an ideal example of deep woods habitat.  Nestled on the edge of the Oro Moraine, it contains the highest quality of mature upland deciduous forest in the region, as it undulates and eventually drops 55 metres to a complex of wetlands containing the headwaters of three major watersheds that all drain into Georgian Bay.


photo by David J Hawke

photo by David J Hawke

Every year, thousands of visits are made to the Copeland by people from all over southern Ontario and beyond.  The appeal is that it is the largest naturalized upland forest within commuting distance of the GTA, and is free from the usual provincial park rules of usage and fees.  Because there are over 22 active entrances to the forest, even a rough estimate of how many thousands visit is complicated and expensive to calculate.  Through surveys and public meetings, and extensive conversations with forest users, we have learned that the following human activities are known to take place in Copeland Forest:

  • Hunting and trapping (for turkey, deer, rabbit, squirrel, grouse and duck)
  • Mushroom picking
  • Hiking
  • Orienteering
  • Dog walking
  • Geo-caching
  • Nature walks and photography
  • Outdoor Education
  • Mountain biking
  • Bird studies and bird watching
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Research (Acid Rain, Snowstation)
  • Horseback riding
  • Target practice
  • Trail running
  • Commercial bait fishing
  • Trail building and maintenance
  • Retriever dog training
  • Snowshoeing
  • Search and Rescue Training
  • Dog sledding
  • Special events i.e: Diabetes Ride-a-thon and Adventure Races


Butternut Seedling photo by Judith Jones

Butternut Seedling photo by Judith Jones

Numerous birds, insects, reptiles, ambhibians, and plants rely on forest interior habitat in order to survive, and the negligible amount of forest interior habitat left in the south of our province accounts for many endangered, threatened, and rare species listings.   Copeland Forest is supporting a number of these species:

The four-season biological inventory conducted by Winter Spider Eco-Consulting observed numerous flora and fauna  of conservation concern including the Olive-Sided Flycatcher, Yellow Rail, Bay-Breasted Warbler, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Milksnake, Snapping Turtle, Monarch Butterfly, and Butternut.

Many species considered rare in Simcoe County were also observed including Blue Marsh Violet, Schweintz’s Sedge, Heath Aster, Ground Cherry, and Swamp Valerian.

Another study by the University of Guelph in 2012 found the presence of Calicioid lichens, which can only exist in old-growth forests, prompting the author to classify Copeland Forest as a “Young Old Growth Forest”.

Watch a slideshow about the Invasive Species, Garlic Mustard, which is found in Copeland Forest:



The History of the Copeland Forest

Copeland For Sale Party

Transfer Party in 1978 from Copelands to MNR

We are currently compiling a history of the Copeland Forest including First Nations history, logging, the Martinville townsite, and stories from those who used to hunt, fish, ski, and camp in Copeland from 1979 onward. If you have information to share, we would love to hear from you.   call Dorthea at 705-326-1620 or email