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
Camping Update - August 2022
After much deliberation, the Torrance Barrens Working Group, in partnership with Ontario Parks, has designated six tent campsites in the Torrance Barrens.
Visitors are permitted to hike to a designated campsite to pitch a tent and stay overnight at the Torrance Barrens.
For the remainder of Summer 2022, designated campsites at the Torrance Barrens are accessible on a first come, first serve basis and are free of charge. Prior to Summer 2023, Ontario Parks will institute a permit system similar to Algonquin Provincial Park, under which visitors will need to reserve their campsite ahead of time and pay a fee to obtain a camping permit.
The designated campsites are backcountry sites. Visitors must carry in all supplies (e.g. water) and carry out all garbage.
Camping and fire-making are now officially banned throughout the Torrance Barrens except at the six designated tent campsites. This ban will be actively enforced by Ontario Parks.
The purpose of designating official campsites was to concentrate disturbances associated with camping to a finite number of locations in the Torrance Barrens. The number and location of the designated campsites were chosen in consideration of ecological values (e.g. species-at-risk), as well as other recreational uses at the Barrens, including hiking and stargazing.
As always, we ask visitors – including campers – to respect the Torrance Barrens by leaving no trace, minimizing light pollution and noise, and respecting the natural environment.
A map showing the location of the six designated campsites is forthcoming.
Congratulations to Wade Murrant of the MECP for winning this year's Clear Lake Association 'Torrance Barrens Award'
In recognition of all his efforts to help get the Barrens back on track.
Great Blue Heron
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
Trail Closures - Spring 2022 Update
Please be advised that the boardwalks serving the Main Trail and Pine Ridge Loop Trail have still not been fixed. The Pine Ridge Loop is currently inaccessible due to these closures. However, portions of the Main Trail can be accessed by turning right at the first juncture (as if to go along the Pine Ridge Loop.) A detour will bring you back around to the Main Trail, adding about ten extra minutes to the hike.
Torrance Barrens and COVID-19
We have received many inquiries regarding what is allowed at the Torrance Barrens during the pandemic. Because this situation is evolving so quickly, we have provided a link to Ontario Parks' Covid-19 webpage, which should provide the most up-to-date and accurate information:
Whatever the current rules are, we ask that users please practice common-sense social distancing and good hygiene while visiting the Park.
Camping and Fire-making Banned on Township of Muskoka Lakes Land
In July 2021, the Township of Muskoka Lakes officially banned camping and fire-making on municipal property. Much of the Torrance Barrens adjoins land owned by the Township of Muskoka Lakes, meaning that this resolution plays an important role in conserving the greater-Barrens ecosystem. Please be mindful that you can no longer camp just outside the Conservation Reserve boundaries.
What People are saying 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