Grey County owns approximately 8,500 acres of forest (45 individual Forest Properties) and 77 km of CP Rail Trail from Owen Sound to Dundalk.
CP Rail Trail is a multi-use trail permitting many recreational activities including cycling, hiking, walking, ATV use in designated areas, cross country skiing, equestrian, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.
Various forest properties are used for recreational activities such as, hunting, mountain biking, hiking, walking, birding, cross country skiing and snowmobiling. The trails within Grey County Forests are enjoyed by both visitors and local residents.
Signs have been posted at trail entrances to let visitors know which activities are allowed on the forest property. If an activity is not listed, it is not permitted. Please respect the trails and other users to help ensure the longevity of the trail system for the future.
Grey County Forests are managed through the Grey County Forest Management Plan. At times properties may be temporarily closed to the public to allow contractors to safely manage the property. Management can occur at any time of the year. Please read signs and check this site regularly to learn of trail closures. If a harvest operation is occurring in a particular forest, signs will be posted notifying trail users.
During hunting seasons, Grey County Forests are a popular destination for hunters. For your own safety and in respect to others, please remember trails are open to everyone to enjoy and it is important to follow proper trail etiquette.
Grey County Forests
What happens in a Grey County Forest? Watch our Forestry Video Series.
Prior to 1996, Grey County Forests were managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) through an agreement with the County. In May of 1996, the Forest Management Program at the Ministry was eliminated and management responsibilities for the forests were transferred back to the County.
The County’s goal is to actively manage County forests using good forest management techniques while providing multiple recreational opportunities. The County has a Management Plan for all of its properties. It outlines effective management practices within County forest properties.
The County and trail user groups help to maintain and monitor County forests in many ways. Annually, the County sets budgets for improving forest properties. Clubs monitor, use and inform forest users what is and isn’t permitted within the forest. Some of the clubs also help with maintenance by grooming trails, or by partnering with the County on projects to enhance and update trails.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification
In 2011 Grey County obtained Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification for all of the County’s forests. FSC certification prescribes the essential elements or rules of environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forest management.
FSC certification is a labeling system for paper and wood products that come from responsibly managed forests, and verified recycled sources.
Eastern Ontario Model Forest (EOMF)
The EOMF manages a FSC certificate on behalf of private woodlot owners in eastern Ontario and has developed a process for private woodlots to become certified. Grey County has their FSC Certificate through the EOMF.
The EOMF Forest Certification Program provides an opportunity for woodlot owners to become certified to the internationally recognized standards for forest management developed by the FSC under a group certification. The EOMF has become a leader in small scale forest certification in Canada and is willing to transfer its model to others. The EOMF Forest Certification Program allows for numerous landowners to share the benefits and costs of FSC certification by certifying their lands under one certificate.
The EOMF is a not-for-profit, charitable organization. The EOMF works with government, landowners, industry, First Nations, non-government organizations and others to develop new ways to sustain and manage our forest resources. The model forest provides a unique forum where forest users — many of whom may never have met before — can forge partnerships and gain a greater understanding of conflicting views, share their knowledge, and combine their expertise and resources.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries regarding Grey County Forest Properties.
Trail Safety During Hunting Seasons
Some Grey County forest properties allow hunting among other activities. It’s important for trail users to understand hunters may be in the area. You can follow these trail safety tips to stay safe.
- Be aware. Know what hunting seasons in the area are open, specifically deer seasons the first full week of November, and December.
- Be visible. Wear bright colours, preferably orange, and remember that dogs and pets should also be brightly marked.
- Be heard. Wear objects that make noise while on the trails during hunting season.
- Respect one another. Be courteous and respectful of all outdoor enthusiasts. Grey County trails are to be enjoyed by everyone.
- Equestrians should avoid popular hunting areas during hunting season.
- Be aware. You are sharing public lands with other trail users.
- Wear solid orange clothing and a hunter orange head cover.
- Follow gun safety best practices. Never shoot unless you are absolutely sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Grey County Forestry Management Plan
Grey County has a Forestry Management Plan for all of its forest properties to guide all management activities in Grey County owned forest properties. The plan was drafted in association with the former Grey County Forest Advisory Committee. Members of this committee included local snowmobile clubs, Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), members of Grey County Council and staff, ATV clubs, cycling clubs and trails organizations.
The Plan guides all management activities for the period of January 2003 to December 2022. It consists of two nested plans – a 20 year general management plan and a five year plan which provided the operational details from January 1st, 2003 to December 31st, 2007.
The Plan was written to integrate the management of forests for “forestry purposes” as defined in the Forestry Act, the Provincial Policy Statement under the Planning Act, Niagara Escarpment Plan, Grey County Official Plan Land Use Policies, and other policies, guidelines, initiatives and documents. The Plan includes statements, which articulate the goals objectives, principles, strategies, options and targets for Grey County forests pertaining to such matters as recreational, educational and heritage uses of the forest, timber production, the maintenance and enhancement of fish and wildlife habitats, protection of ecology sensitive areas and significant species, and the further acquisition or disposal of County forest properties.
All forestry management is in accordance with the Grey County Forest Management By-law and the FSC certification. Private land owners that have forested properties are under the jurisdiction of the Grey County Forest Management By-law.
A copy of the Grey Forestry Management Plan can be obtained in the Planning Department at the Administration Building during regular business hours.
If you have questions regarding the management of Grey County Forests or the Forestry Management Plan please contact the County at email@example.com.
Grey County Recreational Trails Strategy
In 2009 a Recreational Trails Strategy was created. It was written for trails in County Forest Properties as well as the CP Rail Trail.
The strategy outlines both permitted and prohibited uses within the forest properties. It also includes a Trail Etiquette Guide which helps create a safe environment for all users.
A copy of the County’s Recreational Trails Strategy can be found online:
Trail Etiquette Guide
Trail etiquette can be described as a polite way to use the trails. Trail etiquette will provide guidelines for all users of the trail on the important aspects of trail use. Trail use is a privilege that should not be abused or disrespected by any user. Safety and enjoyment of the trail is the priority of trail users.
Trail Etiquette for All Users
- Read trailhead signs noting permitted uses and trail rules
- Observe posted trail rules
- Pedestrians always have the right of way
- Be aware of other users on the trail
- Stay to the right of the trail (except when passing)
- Move to the right to let others pass
- Give a clear warning signal when passing. Call out “Passing on your left”
- Always look ahead and behind when passing
- Always travel at a reasonable speed
- Slow down at corners
- Always clean up – take out what you take in
- Keep pets on a leash and clean up after them
- Yield to other trail users when entering and crossing a trail
- Do not disturb wildlife
- Do not venture off the trails; respect the environment
- Respect wildlife; your surroundings are home to many plants and animals – YOU are the visitor
- Respect private property
- Be courteous
- Travel at a consistent and predictable manner
- Don’t block the trail
- When stopping, move off the trail
- Obey all traffic signs and signals
- Don’t use a trail under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Hikers, Walkers/Snowshoers and Backpackers
- Walk on the right when possible
- When meeting someone riding a horse, step off the trail and speak calmly
- Avoid ski tracks in the winter time
Trail Users with Animals
- Clean up after your animals
- Keep them on a leash or a lead and in control when encountering other trail users
- Give larger animals the right of way
- Do not let your animals disturb wildlife
- Keep them on the trails
Cyclists and Mountain Bikers
- Know your ability, equipment and the area
- Move to the side of the trail for less mobile users
- Do not ride under conditions where you leave evidence of passing i.e. after rain or snow
- Stay on the trail
- Make your presence known at corners or blind spots
- Control your bicycle
- Practice minimum impact techniques
- Observe speed limits
- Always clean up after your horse
- Never tie your horse within 20 feet of lakes, streams or springs
- Always have control of your horse
- Stay off groomed ski trails
- Never leave your horse unattended
- Approach pedestrians slowly, pull over and turn off your engine
- Stay on trail
- When passing someone, follow at a safe distance until you reach a safe place to pass: pass slowly
- Minimize noise with proper care of your vehicle
- Respect trail closures
- Do not ride on areas that are either wet, have loose soil, steep slopes, meadows or swamps
- Avoid sudden stops and starts and quick directional changes with acceleration
- Remove your helmet when talking to other trail users
Cross Country Skiers
- Ski on the right side of the trail
- Yield to those coming downhill or who are faster
- To step out of the track, lift your skis so you don’t disturb the track
- When breaking trail, keep skis wider than normal
- Operate at appropriate speeds
- Do not ride on tracks made for skiers
- Avoid running over vegetation
- Respect trail closures
- Avoid late night riding
Who to Contact
For general enquiries regarding trails contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you witness non-permitted uses on the trails within Grey County, the police contact information is included for your information.
Grey County OPP –
(Chatsworth Office) 519-794-7827
(Bruce Peninsula Office) 519-534-1323
(Markdale Office) 519-986-2211
West Grey Police Services 519-369-3046
Hanover Police Services 519-364-2411
City of Owen Sound Police Services 519-376-1234