Commanding a majestic creek valley cut straight through the middle of Oakville, Sixteen Mile Creek is a whole world unto itself – a stunning natural escape amid a rapidly expanding urban area. Whether you are driving over the bridges that cross it, hiking its forested trails, boating down it near the Oakville waterfront, or enjoying a picnic beside its mouth at Tannery Park or Lakeside Park, you are sure to be impressed by Sixteen Mile Creek’s charismatic presence on the Oakville landscape.
At 372 square kilometres in size (~144 square miles, or 91,923 acres), the massive watershed lands covered by the headwaters, tributaries, forests, ravines, farmlands and city lands feeding into Sixteen Mile Creek make it the largest of all Conservation Halton’s watersheds, as well as the largestAt 372 square kilometres in size (~144 square miles, or 91,923 acres), the massive watershed lands covered by the headwaters, tributaries, forests, ravines, farmlands and city lands feeding into Sixteen Mile Creek make it the largest of all Conservation Halton’s watersheds, as well as the largest and most central watershed area in all of Halton Regional Municipality. Its land base extends east and north alongside the edge of Mississauga, north towards the southern edges of Georgetown, Limehouse and Acton, and as far west as Campbellville. Its waters flow together from these rural lands at the very core of the Halton Region, before carving through the centre of Oakville through a massive ravine valley and rushing to join the waters of Lake Ontario in a grand finale at the Oakville waterfront. Sixteen Mile Creek is steeped in the Halton countryside – in many ways, it is like the heart of Halton itself.
HOW TO VISIT:
Sixteen Mile Creek is a widely-accessible creek, with many trails and access points scattered throughout. The best of these are found in and around Lions Valley Park, between Upper Middle Road West and Dundas Street West.
Best Parking areas:
Lions Valley Park Parking Lot – end* of Lions Valley Park Road (south off of Dundas St. W., down the hill from Knox Presbyterian Church 16)
*Please be advised that the formal parking lot may be closed-off at the top of the hill during parts of winter. Limited street parking may be available nearby, and the park is still freely accessible by foot. Please observe municipal parking signs on roadway
Municipal Parking Lot – 1033 Skyvalley Crescent
Sixteen Hollow Park Parking Lot – 2140 Westoak Trails Boulevard
Neyagawa Park Parking Lot – 540 River Glen Boulevard
Upper Middle Road Park Parking Lot – 310 McCraney St W.
Other parking areas on lower parts of the creek:
Hilmer Park Parking Lot – 150 Water St.
Best bus stop:
Dundas St. W. and Lions Valley Park Rd. bus stop, on the #5 Dundas bus route (proceed from bus stop south down Lions Valley Park Rd.)
Dundas St. W. and Trafalgar Lawn Cemetary bus stop, on the #5 Dundas bus route (cross Dundas St. W., proceed south down Lions Valley Park Rd.)
Westoak Trails Blvd. and Treetop Terrace bus stop, on the #13 Westoak Trails bus route (proceed to trails on the north side of the road)
Westoak Trails Blvd. north of Skyvalley Cr. bus stop, on the #13 Westoak Trails bus route (proceed to trails on the north side of the road)
River Oaks Blvd. W. and Winding Woods Dr., on the #190 River Oaks Express bus route. (proceed to the trails on the southeast side of River Oaks Blvd, just northeast of Winding Woods Dr.)
Take a look at our interactive map, and locate a trail access point near you!
A view from any of the lookouts onto Sixteen Mile Creek is sure to inspire and amaze, at any time of year! The picturesque landscape’s deep gorges are the stars of the show, capturing our hearts and imaginations. These deep ravine valleys of Sixteen Mile Creek and its tributaries are all a testament to the powerful influence of flowing water. The chasms were carved by erosion starting more than ten thousand years ago, where glacial meltwater began to cut through the surface soils and underlying rock formations. In the thousands of years since then, water has continued to further refine and ultimately define these grand chasms through gradual erosion. You can see this process in action to this day, in the crumbling ravine walls overhung by the root mats of trees and shubs, each clinging desperately to the clifftops and slopes. In many areas, where the creek has crowded and aggressively eroded one side of the valley, the massive drop in height is emphasized by exposed, steep, striped banks and cliffs of rich red Queenston shale.
Queenston Formation shale – one of the major underlying rock types for this area – is made of layers of a brittle, erosion-prone reddish and greyish shale rock, sometimes interbedded with bands of sandstone and silty limestone. Queenston shale is a sedimentary rock type weak enough to snap and break with your fingers, barely more of a rock than hardened clay. Yet it is very old, laid down layer upon layer hundreds of millions of years ago in the Ordovician age as clay and silt sediments deposited at the edge of an ancient sea. Queenston shale is prime base material for ravine formation, allowing water to chip and weather away a passage more easily than with harder rock varieties like granite.
The striking, striped, reddish rock faces compose the backdrop over which the creek’s valley and significant natural areas are overlaid. The Sixteen Mile Creek Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA), which covers the major creek lands from Lakeshore Rd. E. north to around Britannia Rd. W., is a regional powerhouse of biodiversity. The ESA alone has nearly 400 plant species represented and the area is considered to be one of Halton’s top botanical sites.
There is a rich diversity of wetland, valley slope and upland ecosystems, from riverside marshes and Willow swamps to Sugar Maple-mixed hardwood upland forests. These diverse habitats are home to some 14 mammal species, 33 fish species, 10 reptiles and amphibians, and 77 resident, breeding and/or migratory bird species. And all this, without considering the vast watershed lands outside of the ESA, which stretch north to encompass magnificent natural lands such as parts of the Niagara Escarpment, Hilton Falls and Kelso conservation areas, Scotch Block Reservoir, Speyside Resource Management Area, and parts of Halton Regional Forest, in addition to a plethora of farmlands, urban and suburban regions. Sixteen Mile Creek is so significant in its own right that in the 1950’s it was set aside with its own “Sixteen Mile Creek Conservation Authority,” before ultimately being brought into the fold of Conservation Halton.
Although the valley and its nature sanctuaries were historically partly protected from human disturbance and habitat destruction by its steep un-farmable hills, crumbling cliffs and unpredictable floodplain, the sheer size of Sixteen Mile Creek’s valley and the power of its flowing water meant that human presence was inevitable. The creation of water-powered mills in the valley lands below the current bridge at Dundas Street West led to the formation of an entire valley village during the 1800’s, until economic circumstances changed and it was ultimately abandoned. Several other mills were built on the creek further downstream. Sites like the Glen Abbey and Oakville Golf Clubs, various Oakville boating clubs, and the creek mouth itself at the Oakville waterfront are still occupied heavily to this day, with varying degrees of truly natural habitat remaining. Still, this valley corridor system has managed to preserve many valuable natural habitat and ecosystem remnants, even amid a landscape of rapid urbanization. Going forward, it is important to consider maintaining adequate space for nature, to ensure that Sixteen Mile Creek and its lands not only survive, but flourish alongside our growing communities!
Read more about CHALLENGES ON A GROWING LANDSCAPE
Read more about ADVENTURE AT SIXTEEN MILE CREEK
All photos and text provided by David d’Entremont.