These 7 natural swimming areas near Toronto are great for beating the heat

Escape the summer heat and take a refreshing road trip from Toronto to some fantastic wild swimming spots! While the city’s beaches can be crowded, we’ve rounded up five of our favorite natural swimming holes, perfect for a splashing good time with friends. Let’s dive right in!

DeCew Falls, St. Catharines

Nestled in a lush conservation area, DeCew Falls offers a delightful swimming experience at the base of a stunning waterfall. The picturesque Twelve Mile Creek and the Niagara Escarpment set the perfect backdrop for your adventure. Hike through the forest, spot two waterfalls, and even explore a restored old mill. To avoid the crowds, plan a weekday visit during late spring. The best part? It’s completely free!

How to get there: Find DeCew Falls Road in St. Catharines, Ontario, using Google Maps or your GPS.

Elora Quarry, Elora

Although not entirely natural, Elora Quarry’s massive water-filled pit creates an enchanting swimming spot. Dramatic limestone cliffs, sandy beaches, and surrounding forests make it a paradise for swimmers and nature enthusiasts alike. Take a one-kilometer hike through the cedar forest for an added adventure. Keep in mind that there’s a $10.50 per person entrance fee, and no alcohol or dogs are allowed.

How to get there: Head northwest on Wellington County Rd 18 for about 90 minutes from Toronto.

St. Mary’s Quarry

For the largest swimming area in the entire province, head to St. Mary’s Quarry, a couple of hours away from Toronto. This historic swimming hole has been delighting visitors for over 80 years. It used to be a quarry until it was converted into a pool in the 1940s. Enjoy the largest freshwater pool in Ontario and the entire country! While there, explore the charming town of St. Mary’s with its limestone architecture, trestle bridge, and inviting shops and cafes.

How to get there: Drive west on Hwy. 401 to Hwy. 8 towards Stratford.

Kelso Conservation Area, Milton:

Located near Milton, Kelso Conservation Area boasts a magnificent 35-hectare reservoir, perfect for a refreshing swim. Embrace the stunning Niagara Escarpment as your backdrop and consider trying your hand at paddleboarding or fishing while you’re there. Don’t miss strolling along the boardwalk for a leisurely experience.

How to get there: Follow the signs to Kelso from Hwy. 401 westward to Milton.

Trout Lake

This fantastic outdoor swimming spot has been a family favorite for generations. With its crystal-clear, spring-fed water, the Trout Lake Quarry offers the perfect escape from the scorching heat. Jump in for a refreshing swim, rent a boat for a thrilling ride, or try your luck at fishing in the cool depths. With multiple shore access points, it’s easy to make a splash and create unforgettable memories. 

How to get there: Head west on Highway 401, taking Exit 250 for Innerkip Road, then continuing on Oxford Road 5, turning right on Township Road 1.

Elora Gorge

Close to Elora Quarry, the Elora Gorge Conservation Area features the Grand River flowing through a gorge with stunning cliffs. While swimming is not allowed in the gorge itself, there are designated areas upstream and downstream where you can enjoy a dip in the Grand River. And, visitors can also float down the rushing river on inner tubes, which is a great way to cool off. 

The Cove at Canatara Beach

Experience the magic of Canatara Beach on Lake Huron, near the mouth of the St. Clair River. The warm waters of Lake Huron welcome swimmers, while a hidden gem awaits behind a small peninsula at the beach’s western end. Catch breathtaking views, especially at sunset. After a fantastic swim, head back to Canatara for some delicious food and relaxation.

How to get there: Take Hwy. 401 west to Hwy. 402 and head towards Sarnia.

So, beat the heat and embark on a thrilling road trip to these wild swimming spots near Toronto. Dive into the crystal-clear waters, embrace the natural beauty, and make unforgettable memories with friends as you cool off in style!

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO