It’s not too late to fit in a summer camping trip. Karen Green, from The Kids Are Alright, recently packed up her family for a quick camping getaway at Kelso Conservation Area that left her kids saying, “S’more please!”


Family Fun in the Heart of Ontario: Kelso Conservation Area

KAREN – As far as I’m concerned, there is little reason to leave Canada in the summer. Unless constricted by schedules (or feted with opportunity), staying close to home in the beautiful, brief, hot summer months is the payoff for dealing with the long, brutally cold, depressing winters. Forget Florida in July. I want the shady forests and cool lakes of Ontario.

With this in mind, we recently hit the road on a sunny Saturday morning, en route to Kelso Conservation Area in Milton for a weekend of adventure, nature, and perhaps even a reprieve from the heat wave that had been blanketing Southern Ontario.

Kelso (better known as Glen Eden during ski season) was once a busy lime quarry, but is now a tidy gem of green space less than 90 minutes from the GTA. As an expat Torontonian, I’m sad that I hadn’t known about Kelso prior to moving away, as it really is the perfect family escape from the city.

On tap for us was a day of canoeing, swimming and exploring, followed by a night of camping and a second day devoted to hiking the stunning Niagara Escarpment. The only thing we were concerned about was whether we had remembered the Frisbee. We tried not to think about the ominous dark clouds gathering above us.

The park is very heavily used as a day spot for picnics, parties and reunions, so our wait in line to drive into the park was immediately tempered by the happy energy inside the grounds. Kids and families everywhere, the nearby highway was completely drowned out by laughter, music and the sounds of people having fun. Summer sounds. The amazing thing was, as soon as we launched the canoe from the boat dock, all of that melted away.

The lake, though small, was serene, calm, and pretty. We had a humourous debate over whether or not I was actually capable of steering the canoe, having jumped into the back position, which, it turns out, I was not. Then, as we rowed in circles for a few minutes, my big, floppy beach hat flew off my head, which for some reason greatly alarmed my six-year-old. Thanks to my inability to steer the ship, we watched it slowly, slowly sink into the depths of the lake before we could manage to get to it. Thank you to the people on shore who were pointing at my sinking hat and yelling for our attention as I rowed us in circles away from my chapeau.

Once we figured out the whole steering thing, our canoe ride was bucolic. Although, not for my six-year-old, who had no faith in our ability to keep her out of the water after what happened to the hat, and cried the entire time. But this is no fault of the lake’s.

Eventually we headed back to shore, Chris and I high-fiving over our awesome sea-faring abilities. Six declared she was never getting into a boat with us again. I’ll remind her of that if we ever think of taking another Disney cruise.

We spent the afternoon on the sandy beach, making castles, swimming and snacking. At least, that’s what the kids did. I indulged in my favourite public activity, people-watching. Fascinating. Everybody was having a great time. There was a family self-defense lesson taking place in the shallow water, which I admit I at first mistook for a group baptism, and there were a lot of pregnant women in bathing suits that were cuter than the one I was wearing. Maternity fashion has come a long way.

Once the kids were waterlogged, we headed back to our campsite to make dinner. Although we usually camp in more remote places, I have to say, it felt special to be camping at Kelso. Removed from the day use area, we felt almost like insiders, like those other suckers had to leave, but we got to stay. One great thing about camping at Kelso is that it might not be remote, but it certainly is flat, even terrain. No bumps or rocks to have to deal with when sleeping in a tent = win.

Unfortunately, the ominous clouds would not back off, and we had to cut our trip short due to the rain. It would be an understatement to say that we were disappointed to miss out on our Sunday escarpment hike. We’ve decided to have a do-over in September, to hopefully take advantage of a beautiful crisp fall day and perhaps even see some of the autumn colours.

Despite the rain, we had an excellent time at Kelso, and felt like we got to take advantage of many of the park’s natural gifts. Plus it’s always exciting to sleep in a tent, and we made s’mores, so another win.

By the way, my six-year-old has a new favourite game to play in the pool – she throws in these little sinking squid toys they have and then moves through the pool in slow motion towards it. The name of the game? Mommy’s Sinking Hat.

Many thanks to The Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association for extending this complimentary trip to our family. Opinions are my own. Many of Halton’s parks and conservation areas are currently offering two-for-one admission – plan your trip today!

Travel Deals View All >>

Experiences & Tours View All >>

Now thru November 19

Bruce Trail Iroquoia Day Trip

Grand Experiences Outdoor Adventure Company

115 Grand River Street North, Paris, ON, N3L 2M4

This trip is offered on: Daily Between: Apr 16, 2022 and Nov 19, 2023

Now thru November 27

Cambridge to Paris Grand River Day Trip – Self-Guided

Grand Experiences Outdoor Adventure Company

115 Grand River Street North, Paris, ON, N3L 2M4

This trip is offered on: Sat Sun Between: Oct 30, 2021 and Nov 27, 2022

August 7

Botanically Dyed Garden Cards

Royal Botanical Gardens

680 Plains Rd W, Burlington, ON, Canada

10am - 1pm.

September 10 - 11

Corn Wash Basket Workshop at Chiefswood Park

Chiefswood Park Cabins

1037 Highway 54 Ohsweken, ON N0A 1M0

Cabins are also available for rent for those interested. Time: 9am-4pm Cost: $200 (Half must...

Now thru March 31

RBC Artist In Residence: Nathan Eugene Carson

Art Gallery of Hamilton

123 King Street West, Hamilton, ON, L8P 4S8

Now thru August 17

Paddling in Paradise

Royal Botanical Gardens

680 Plains Road West, Burlington, ON, L7T 4H4

Now thru October 31

Camping at Rattlesnake Point

Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area

7200 Appleby Line, Milton, ON, L9T 2Y1

Additional campers are $10 / person

Now thru December 31

Explore Paris Like a Local Tour

Tasty Road Trips Food Tours

Paris, Ontario

Visit our website for dates and availability

July 2 - September 17

To Market, to Market, to Market, We Go Day-Trip

Tasty Road Trips Food Tours

Paris, Ontario

Visit our website for dates and availability.

Now thru September 30

On The Water Experience

Six Nations Tourism

2498 Chiefswood Road, Ohsweken, ON N0A 1M0

Cost: $110.00 per person

June 30 - November 30

Home of #99: A Brantford & Paris Tasting Adventure

Tasty Road Trips Food Tours

Paris, Ontario

Visit our website to check availability.

Similar Stories View All >>

Save S’more on Spring and Summer Camping

Book A Campsite While You Can

Read More

7 Sensational Stays With Ontario Staycation Tax Credit Savings

Sleep & Save At These Stellar Vacation Rentals

Read More

Escape To The Country

6 Rural Retreats To Replenish Your Spirit This Spring

Read More

5 Amazing Southern Ontario Getaways That Are Staycation Tax Credit Friendly

Try These Fresh Spring Adventures On For Size & Save

Read More

Make March Fun Again

11 Awesome Ways To Celebrate Spring’s Arrival

Read More

Add Some Wow To Your Winter

Kick Off 2022 With Fresh Ideas For Outdoor & Indoor Fun

Read More

The Wander-Fall Adventure Finder

Make the most of exploring season.

Read More

Summer 2.0

Stretch out summer fun a little longer.

Read More

Gather In The Great Outdoors

Find new ways to connect.

Read More

Happy Campers: 4 Creative Ways To Beat Ontario’s Campsite Shortage This Summer

Woodsy workarounds for happy campers.

Read More

Shake Up Your Summer With These Easy Sport Swaps

Switch up your go-to sport.

Read More

Fall For… Hamilton

Grab a sweater and head out for a fall day in Hamilton.

Read More

Get Travel OffersEvent Details and
Planning Ideas for Your Next Trip

Sign up to receive the latest Hamilton Halton Brant travel news delivered right to your inbox.