The Torrance Barrens
Conservation Area and Dark Sky Reserve
"A place where people may frequent but do not remain"
Welcome to the Torrance Barrens
This website is operated by the Guardians of the Dark Sky and Barrens, a group of Muskoka citizens, politicians, environmentalists, and astronomers who care about the Barrens and who are working to preserve its natural attributes for generations to come.
This website is intended to provide useful information about what there is to do and see at the Barrens. Here you can find interesting details about the Torrance Barrens' principle natural features, including the
There is also information about the activities which can be done at the Barrens, such as
Like the planet as a whole, the Torrance Barrens has suffered from human encroachment, particularly in recent years. Hence, this website was also created with the goal of raising awareness about how to reduce negative impacts on the Torrance Barrens. Human garbage and light pollution represent the two most critical threats to the Barrens' natural attributes and their longevity. Follow these links to learn how to
Torrance Barrens News
Scientist's Trail Camera finds Abundant Wildlife in the Barrens
Check out the videos below to see some highlights from a project that used trail cameras in the Torrance Barrens!
Camping and Fire-making Banned in the Torrance Barrens until further notice - August 2020
Due to several factors - including an increasing number of campers and fire-makers in the Barrens, the proximity of the Barrens to several children's summer camps, and a particularly dry summer - the Township of Muskoka Lakes unanimously passed a resolution requesting a ban on all camping and fire-making activities in the Torrance Barrens. This ban includes RV/car camping, tent camping, making campfires, and setting off fireworks. Ontario Parks is actively enforcing this camping ban within 200m on each side of the Southwood Road. Vehicular access is included in the ban.
Local stakeholders, including the Town(ship)s of Muskoka Lakes and Gravenhurst, are currently working with the Ministry of the Environment to find a long-term solution that will promote safety and protection of the Muskoka environment. Potential solutions include a permanent ban on camping and fire-making, creating designated camping areas, and/or charging fees to camp so that there are funds to periodically clean up the Reserve. Such solutions could include converting the Torrance Barrens to an operating Provincial Park, with corresponding staffing and infrastructure.
If you are passionate about the Barrens and would like to have your voice heard, we recommend that you contact the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks (Northeast Zone), the Town of Gravenhurst, or the Township of Muskoka Lakes.
We thank you in advance for your compliance with these new rules and for your commitment to protecting the Torrance Barrens.
Update on Camping in the Torrance Barrens - June, 2020
Thank you for checking back on the Torrance Barrens website. For summer 2020, we are again kindly asking visitors to refrain from camping (pitching tents, vehicle/RV camping, etc.) and making fires in the Torrance Barrens. The Barrens community is working towards adding mechanisms (designated camping areas, garbage bins, clean-up staff/volunteers, etc) that may help make camping feasible in the future. Until that time, there are concerns that unregulated camping and fire making will degrade the Barrens, tarnishing its value for stargazers, hikers, and other visitors. We appreciate your understanding and commitment to preserving the Torrance Barrens for all.
Update on Camping in the Torrance Barrens - June, 2019
Until further notice, visitors are being asked to refrain from camping (pitching tents, vehicle/RV camping, etc.)and making fires in the Torrance Barrens. Without park rangers, designated camping areas, garbage bins, and clean-up staff/volunteers, camping and fire-making has and will cause significant harm to the Torrance Barrens. While the vast majority of campers do so safely and respectfully, a few "bad apples" have left massive amounts of garbage in the main dark sky viewing area and in the surrounding trails. Though it has luckily not happened yet, one irresponsible camp-fire could tarnish the landscape for decades.
In collaboration with local Muskoka stakeholders and government officials, the Ontario Ministry of Environment is currently in the process of coming up with a more permanent decision regarding camping in the Barrens. Adding garbage bins to the Barrens will help tremendously with the litter issue, and is atop the list of planned infrastructural improvements. Creating designated camping areas and permitting only back-country camping (i.e. not in the main dark sky viewing areas/near hiking trails) are two ideas currently being considered. The final decision will be posted on this website, as well as at the Barrens itself. Until that time, we ask that visitors please not stay in the Barrens overnight.
What visitors have said about the Barrens:
"I came here to shoot the super moon and decided to stay. I met God here, it changed me. I hope you find what you are looking for as I did." Tom
"This is our spot. Loved the harmony of the wolves singing. The lake and trees were beautiful. The stars at night are amazing." Valerie and Kai--September 8, 2018
"These are the moments in life so simple and yet will last in your heart for a lifetime." Gary--April 28, 2018
"What a beautiful time to be alive. Just take a moment to stop and listen, to everything, even yourself...You're not alone even in the darkest times." Jackalope-- April 30. 2018
"Truly an amazing place...and helps unwind after long and stressful week. Can't wait till next time." Matt--May 6, 2018
"Here from New York and eager to see a sky with no ambient light. The sun is setting and its already beautiful. Here the noise comes from nature. Peaceful." May 7, 2018
"Nature at its best. Thank you for keeping a peaceful place to re-connect." Amy & Kevin--May 11, 2018
"Its Mothers' Day. I am hiking with my family. Its a beautiful, sunny and no bugs. I am in my happy place!" Jackie--May 13, 2018
"I frequented this place. But I did not remain!" Anupam
"A magical place. Show your gratitude to Mother Earth. If you are in tune, you will feel the magic." C
"First time visitors. Lovely lake. Nice Retreat. A+" Mathew & Tammy--June 25, 2018
"Were having a great time. We saw a baby bear! It was amazing!" Azaria and family--June 26, 2018
"Perhaps not Heaven, but mighty close!" Cynthia
"In the big world these stars make all your problems feel so small." Sept 9, 2018
"We're so tiny in this vast expanding galaxy--I'm so glad to go on this grand adventure with you..." July 15, 2018
"My son and I drove 4 hours to experience this beauty...Such a gift to experience nature this way. I hope that all who travel here respect the beauty mother nature has bestowed upon us." IG--July 16, 2018
"Thank you Dark Sky Reserve. Best Shooting stars ever!" July 18, 2018
"So excited to see the sky tonite." "Amazing place" "This place is amazing" "Its beautiful""What a wonderful walk" "The nature is soup for our weary souls." "Such a sacred place here!" "What a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful place." "Beautiful sky and water. Perfect day!" "So sacred is this place of treasures"
"God's beauty is amazing!! We come here every year...We enjoy the trails, star-gazing swimming and exploring. We hope you enjoy your time. Take some deep breaths, Fresh Air! Enjoy all the sights and sounds and say thank you to God. This Gift He has given to you and for you." Diane and Frank
"Mike Silver brought his meteor collection and many visuals for the hundreds of eager knowledge seekers. Mike Silver shared his celestial stories to an enthralled audience." August 11, 2018
"The universe is a large vast place. coming here frees me from the troubles of life. Starring into deep space you can only wonder what life exists beyond our beautiful planet. you feel so alone and helpless at the near impossible thought that we are alone. Life will go on and I will have my answers one day." August 14, 2018
"So very peaceful. Only the sounds of the wind and the wildlife--awesome in this day and age." Brad & Laurie--August 20, 2018
Were here on a sunny September day that reminds us of the day we first met. This year we celebrated our 40th anniversary. Lovely spot. May all who visit see the beauty of God's creation." Ralph & Claudia--September 13, 2018
"Tonight I feel like the Little Prince gazing up at the sky, lost in the galaxies and milky Way. I am a child again with nothing but wonder and curiosity in my heart. I wish you all share this amazing experience here." September 7, 2018
"Today was my first time on a hike. My stupid husband, dog and I walked 1/2 hour. We got tired. Walked back to the car. Will come again with my new husband."
"I am only 12 and came here with my parents. I hope to bring my kids here someday in the future." July 12, 2018
"the stars were incredible! Felt like we were banging in space!"-September 14, 2018
"I've been around to some places, wearing out some laces, till there were no traces of trails and the trains will derail and other systems will fail
in a comparison that pales in comparison to nature's everyday events of monumental energy eruptions that when in harmony does what its meant to
and if we who can see stars to see more of what we are meant to our own destiny fulfilled you see" July 2018