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Conservation Lands

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) properties, including conservation areas and trails, are open for public use. 

For a list of permitted uses click on ‘Permitted Uses’ at the link below:

Ausable Bayfield Conservation has nine conservation areas where you can enjoy nature and stay active and learn about how to protect soil, water, and living things. 

These areas have trails and parking lots. Some have privies. They are open year-round but there is no winter maintenance and most parking lots are not maintained in the winter

To learn more about conservation areas and plan your next visit, please click:

The ABCA owns thousands of acres of environmentally significant lands which are mostly forested. There is no formal trail system but people are welcome to visit for nature appreciation. 

For current property status and updates please visit this web page:

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) protects 3,635 hectares of land through ownership.

Conservation lands were purchased for conservation reasons such as soil conservation, flood plain management, forest management, wildlife management, conserving ecosystems and protecting source areas to improve the overall health of water, soil, and living things in the watershed.

Secondary uses for these conservation lands are passive recreational uses such as hiking (where permitted), nature appreciation, fishing, canoeing, cross-country skiing and picnicking. Hunting is permitted on designated properties and you must obtain an ABCA Conservation Lands Pass.

Visit the conservation authority mapping portal at for maps of conservation lands in the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) watershed.

As the predominant land use of the ABCA watershed is 85 per cent agricultural, conservation land properties are considered islands of nature for visitors to appreciate and explore.  Links below are for more information on our most popular conservation areas with facilities:

Our management areas are forested tracts that were purchased for preservation and protection of source areas, flood plain areas, and environmentally significant areas and as such are not as publicly accessible.

For information on a high-tech new way to expand your trail visiting experience take the professionally-narrated audio and video tours of Bannockburn Conservation Area, courtesy of the Friends of the Bayfield River's Walk a Mile Trail Information Project.

Visit the Bannockburn Conservation Area page to find out more:

Linfield Wildlife Area

Water and soil resources and wildlife habitat will be preserved at the Linfield Wildlife Area, one of the newest conservation lands in the Ausable Bayfield Conservation watersheds.

Hiking, bird-watching, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and fishing are permitted activities in the wildlife area.

Snowmobiles, dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles and hunting are all prohibited there.

Linfield Wildlife Area is located west of the Pavillion Road and Goshen Line intersection, southwest of Varna and north of Zurich. The donated property is about 95 acres in size, including 70 acres of active farm land and 25 acres of natural areas.

Ausable Bayfield Conservation intends to develop additional windbreaks, grassed waterways, and tree planting in the coming years.

Mystery Falls Management Area Trail

Address: 176 Elm Tree Drive, North Middlesex

Mystery Falls is a small, intermittent waterfall at Mystery Falls Management Area. 

Due to low water conditions, there is minimal water going over the falls at this time. 

Mystery Falls Management Area can be reached on a single-track dirt path which has steep, uneven and slippery sections. 

Sturdy footwear is required. 

Be sure to bring a charged cell phone and trail map. 

Visitors are responsible for knowing and abiding by Conservation Authority rules. 

The property is open from sunrise to sunset. 

Camping and alcohol are prohibited. 

There are no picnic tables. 

There is a privy in the parking lot. 

The property is environmentally sensitive and part of the provincially-significant Ausable Gorge. 

Dogs must be on a leash and under control at all times. 

Motorized vehicles (including quads and dirt bikes) are prohibited. 

Please stay on the trail. Do not take short-cuts through neighbouring fields. 

Please take your garbage home with you. 

A small parking lot on Elm Tree Drive has a capacity of only 10 cars. Parking on the roadside is discouraged.

The road leading to the parking lot and trail is a narrow, dirt road and is not maintained in the winter. 

Download the map for the Mystery Falls Management Area Trail: