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Seasonal Delights: Outdoor Fun in Mississauga

WINTER
Who needs the gym to keep in shape when there’s skating, tobogganing and skiing?

Hit the Ice
Strap on your skates and hit the ice at these public skating rinks: Civic Centre outdoor rink (300 City Centre Dr., 905-896-5000), Burnhamthorpe Community Centre (1500 Gulleden Dr., 905-615-4630) and Woodhurst Heights Park (3499 Ash Row Cres., 905-615-4770). All three rinks are open daily and have free-skate times for both adults and children; call for schedules. Iceland Mississauga is a high-tech skating mecca featuring a 1,200-seat arena and Olympic-size ice surface with public hours; call for schedule.

Toboggan Run!
Hockey may be Canada’s national pastime, but tobogganing must come a close second. When cabin fever strikes, locals head to Erindale Park‘s (1695 Dundas St. W.) popular toboggan hill. Jack Darling Park (1180 Lakeshore Rd. W., between Southdown and Mississauga roads) and Birchwood Park (1547 Lakeshore Rd. W.) provide slick terrain, too.

Powder Buffs
Kick off those winter boots, reach for your warmest parka and strap on a pair of skis. Centennial Park Snow Centre (56 Centennial Park Rd., Etobicoke, 416-394-8754) offers downhill skiing day and night, plus snowboarding. Rentals are available on site. Mississauga’s many trails and public parks are well tracked by cross-country skiers: Erindale Park, and Wildwood Park (3430 Derry Rd. E.) are a couple of scenic spots to keep in mind.SPRING
When the air is fresh and the birds are singing in the trees, the city will impress you with its natural charms.

Go the Conservation Route
Riverwood is a new addition to Mississauga’s ample green spaces. The 150-acre public park, situated on the east bank of the Credit River, is a thriving all-season conservation area. More than 350 species of native plants and 130 species of birds and animals, including heron and white-tailed deer, find sanctuary in the preserved natural habitat. The Culham Trail is a 17-km trek that takes you along the riverbank from Erindale Park up the Credit River Valley to the borders of the city of Brampton.

Rattray Marsh Conservation Area (50 Bexhill Rd., within walking distance of Jack Darling Park) is a beloved site on the shores of Lake Ontario. The protected wetlands, home to a variety of wildlife and plants, feature an extensive boardwalk with viewing platforms. Bird watchers come for the chance to see and hear a range of species, from the wood warbler to tree swallow, and photographers enjoy the picturesque nature scenes.

See the City in Bloom
Kariya Park (Kariya Dr., off Burnhamthorpe Road East) was created to honour Mississauga’s sister-city Kariya, Japan. The site is a traditional Japanese garden, featuring elegant statuary, a pavilion and several unique garden spaces. A colony of Kariya’s official flower, the lavender Iris laevigata, as well as gingko and sweetgum trees all thrive here.

Between mid-May and the end of June, head to the city’s acclaimed Rhododendron Gardens (660 Lakeshore Rd. W.), an 18-acre garden park on the waterfront that’s devoted to the boldly blooming genus. Walking trails let you stretch your legs while taking in the sights.

The Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Garden (300 City Centre Dr.) is a walled English garden that commemorates Her Royal Highness’s lengthy reign. Five golden cedars symbolize the Queen’s five decades. You may notice similarities between the garden and the Civic Centre—the garden’s layout is modelled after the iconic building’s architecture. The centre lawn stands in for the tower, the circular seating represents the council, and the rose garden symbolizes the facade.SUMMER
Anglers, golfers, water babies, cyclists and hikers—now is the time to make the most of the city by the lake.

Go Fish
Renowned for its fishing, the Credit River is home to more than 45 species, including rainbow and brown trout, chinook, coho and Atlantic salmon. From late August to mid-May, Steelhead overrun the river. Eager anglers head for J.C. Saddington Park (53 Lake St.) in Port Credit and Credit Village Marina, and the boardwalk along Douglas Kennedy Headland at Lakefront Promenade Park.

Fore!
Hit the links at one of the area’s many courses. Lionhead Golf and Country Club offers two challenging 18-hole championship courses, Legends and Masters. BraeBen Golf Course is an 18-hole championship gold course and a nine-hole par-3 academy course. Derrydale Golf Club (185 Derry Rd., 905-670-3030) is a 9-hole executive golf course. The 18-hole Lakeview Golf Course course has a long history: it was established in 1896.

Parklife
At more than 220 acres, Erindale Park is the city of Mississauga’s largest public park. This all-season, all-recreation public space offers myriad opportunities for fresh air activities. Find trails through dense forest, frequently enjoyed by joggers, hikers and cyclists in spring and summer. Along the river, paddlers drag their kayaks out in summer to work on their turns and balance.

On the Waterfront
Enjoy the best of Mississauga’s lakeshore by making your way down along The Waterfront Trail (accessible from Lakefront Promenade Park). More than 20 km long, the route follows the shore of Lake Ontario from Etobicoke Creek all they way to the Oakville border. Play navigator by picking up a Mississauga Trails map at the Mississauga Civic Centre (300 City Centre Dr.).

Lakefront Promenade Park (800 Lakefront Promenade, off Lakeshore Road East, east of Cawthra Road) hugs the shore of Lake Ontario and boasts more than 100 acres of public parkland for cycling, walking and hanging out at the beach. Kids go wild for the splash pad in summer. Here, they’ll find Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship: a kids’ play apparatus shaped like a 60-foot ship.

At Jack Darling Park, another popular waterfront destination in summer, find beaches and many opportunities for water sports, including canoeing and windsurfing. Kids can hit the splash pad to cool off.Swimming Hole
Nature-seekers and families looking for a day of fun in the sun make the journey to Bronte Creek Provincial Park (1219 Burloak Dr., Oakville, 905-827-6911). Trails are easy to navigate and complete, ranging from a half-kilometre hike amid Burkholder Woods’ beech and maple trees, to a 2.7-km journey through a dense hemlock and pine forest that winds up at a picturesque ravine lookout. Other features: kids (and parents) can cool off at the 1.8-acre swimming pool and picnic on the surrounding grass.

Count the Butterflies
In Humber Bay Park East, Humber Bay Butterfly Habitat (Lake Shore Boulevard West and Park Lawn Road, Etobicoke) is devoted to the preservation of native butterfly species. Three spaces cater to six species: the monarch, viceroy, mourning cloak, red admiral, American painted lady and eastern tiger swallowtail. Not unlike humans, butterflies prefer calm, warm days. The best times to spot some are in the early morning and at dusk.

Gotta Skate!
Kids get their kicks at a number of skate parks in the city. The one at Iceland Mississauga has rails, ledges, stairs, gaps and all the street skateboarding trimmings. The skate park is unsupervised, so helmets and proper padding—if not adult supervision—are recommended; open daily from sunrise to 11 p.m. A few other skate parks to check out: Clarkson Community Centre (2475 Truscott Dr.), Churchill Meadows (3715 Thomas St.), Huron Park (830 Paisley Blvd. W.), Malton Arena (3430 Derry Rd. E.) and Port Credit Memorial Park (22 Stavebank Rd. S.).For more outdoor fun, visit The Cheltenham Badlands.—Flannery Dean

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