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Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority > Thornton Bales
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  • Thornton Bales Tree TopsThornton Bales Tree Tops
  • Thornton Bales TrailThornton Bales Trail
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​​​Thornton Bales Conservation Area

Thornton Bales Conservation Area is famous for its steep slopes and rugged beauty. This Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) is part of the Oak Ridges Moraine, and has an elevation that drops 54 metres from its southwest corner to its northern boundary.

Nicknamed "The 99 Steps", this conservation area is best suited to people who are in good physical condition and enjoy a challenge. Water bottles and comfortable footwear are strongly recommended for hikers targeting these woodland trails. Among the wildlife that can be found in this ravine-like setting are pileated woodpeckers and white tailed deer.

The Koffler-Bales side trail provides access from Thornton Bales Conservation Area to the University of Toronto’s Koffler Scientific Reserve at Joker’s Hill.

Fun fact: The change in vertical elevation from the top of the 99 steps to the bottom is a larger change in elevation than the drop over Niagara Falls!

Thornton Bales Visitor Survey

Do you visit Thornton Bales often? We want to hear from you! We're conducting a survey to better understand how visitors use this property, as well as to learn what could be done to improve visitor experience at the conservation area! Your feedback is very important to us, and will assist in informing the Thornton Bales management plan! Take this quick  10 minute survey for a chance to win a gift certificate to Nature's Emporium or MEC! 


An online user survey will be available from September 19 to November 23.

Public Workshop​

Due to lack of interest, the Thornton Bales Public Workshop that was scheduled for Wednesday, October 17 at our head office in Newmarket has been ca​ncelled. We will have another opportunity for visitors to provide their input about this property in the Spring. For additional information or to register for the Spring workshop, please contact Lauren Grzywniak at