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County Forests and Trails

Grey County owns 45 forest properties and manages approximately 8,500 acres of forests.

County Forests

Many of these properties are used for a variety of recreational activities, including:

  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Snowshoeing
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Equestrian
  • ATVing and Snowmobiling

To find permitted activities in Grey County forests, try our interactive map.

Trail Etiquette Guide

County Forests are meant to be enjoyed by all recreational users. Safety and enjoyment of the properties is a priority for all users. Please use trails responsibly.

  • Read trailhead signs and obey rules
  • Pedestrians always have the right of way of other users
  • Be aware of the other permitted uses of the forest/trail
  • Stay to the right of the trail (except when passing)
  • Move to the right to let others pass
  • Always look ahead and behind when passing
  • 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 or plant life
  • Do not venture off the trails; respect the environment
  • Respect private property
  • Respect trail closures
  • Walk on the right when possible
  • When meeting someone riding a horse, step off the trail and speak calmly
  • Avoid walking in ski tracks in the winter season
  • Know your ability, and the area
  • Do not ride under conditions where you leave evidence of passing such as after rain or snow
  • Stay on the trail
  • Make your presence known at corners or blind spots
  • Control your bicycle
  • Ride at a safe speed
  • Practice minimum impact techniques
  • Ride at a safe speed
  • 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 and pull over
  • Stay on trail
  • When passing someone, follow at a safe distance until you reach a safe place to pass:  pass slowly
  • Do not ride under conditions where you leave evidence of passing such as after rain or snow
  • Avoid sudden stops and starts
  • When talking to other trail users, stop your vehicle and remove your helmet
  • 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
  • Stay on the trail
  • Avoid late night riding

The Grey County Forest Management By-Law regulates tree harvesting and removal and promotes woodland preservation. If you’re planning to harvest a forest or remove trees from a property in Grey County, you need to Call Before You Cut. A permit may be required before you remove any trees.

Call Before You Cut Brochure

What happens in a Grey County Forest? Watch our Forestry Video Series(link is external).

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(link is external) 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.

Eastern Ontario Model Forest (EOMF)

The EOMF(link is external) 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.

For more information on how Grey County’s forests are managed, including management plans and the protection of high-conservation values, please contact forests [at] grey.ca ((link sends e-mail)). To learn more about FSC Certification and the information available to the public and affected stakeholders, please see the Eastern Ontario Model Forest’s Forest Certification Program(link is external) webpage.

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.

Trail Users

  • Be aware. Know what hunting seasons (link is external)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.

Hunters

  • 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.

The Forest Management Plan is a document to direct all management activities in Grey County-owned forest properties. The plan was drafted in association with the former Grey County Forest Management Plan Advisory Committee. Members of this committee included local snowmobile clubs, trail user groups, Sydenham Sportsman Association, the logging industry, Stewardship Grey Bruce, members of Grey County Council and staff.

The Plan was updated in March 2021 for a period of 20 years from March 2021 to December 2040. 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.

All forestry management is in accordance with the Grey County Forest Management By-law and the County’s FSC certification. A link to the Grey Forestry Management Plan can be found below:

Forest Management Plan (2021)

FMP Appendix

Who to Contact

For general enquiries regarding trails contact trails [at] grey.ca ()style="color:blue; text-decoration:underline"

Grey County

Situated two hours north of Toronto, Grey County offers beauty you can’t get in the city, along with a lifestyle that is more relaxed and family oriented.

  • 595 9th Ave East Owen Sound, Ontario N4K 3E3
  • (519) 376-2205 | 1-800-567-4739