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Oak Ridges Moraine

Oak Ridges Moraine Walk [PDF] 

Moraine MistWhat is the Oak Ridges Moraine?
The Oak Ridges Moraine is a ridge of land stretching over 160 kilometers from the Niagara Escarpment in the west almost to the Trent River in the east. Created during the last ice age approximately 13,000 years ago, it is considered the thickest and most extensive deposit of glacial material anywhere in Ontario. In contrast to the gently rolling or flat plains to the north and south, the topography of the Oak Ridges Moraine is characterized by rolling hills, forests, fields, wetlands and lakes.

As illustrated by the map below, the entire northern half of the Town of Richmond Hill is on the Oak Ridges Moraine. 

Oak Ridges Moraine Map

Why is the Oak Ridges Moraine Important?
The Moraine is an important environmental feature in Richmond Hill. The aggregate soils of the Moraine filter rain water and snow melt as it is absorbed into the earth. Underground water, known as groundwater,is an important source of drinking water and also contributes water to rivers and streams when it rises to the surface of the land. It then gradually discharges to rivers and creeks along the length of the Moraine. This steady discharge provides over a third of the total flow to the Rouge, Don and Humber River systems.

The Moraine is rich in biological communities and natural habitats including kettle lakes and ponds, river valleys, forests and wetlands, which provide habitat for many different species of fungi, plants and animals.

Rare species on the Oak Ridges Moraine in Richmond Hill, which are listed under the Canadian Species at Risk Act, include:  

  • Jefferson Salamander (Threatened) Peregrine Falcon
  • Red-sided Dace (Special concern species)
  • Monarch Butterfly (Special concern species)
  • Dense Blazing Star (Threatened)
  • Peregrine Falcon (Special concern species)

Protecting the natural features and functions of the Oak Ridges Moraine has been a priority for governments, private citizens and environmental interest groups. In 2001, the Province of Ontario passed the Oak Ridges Moraine Protection Act and Plan which place restrictions on the development of land on the Moraine.

Oak Ridges Corridor Conservation Reserve
The Oak Ridges Corridor Conservation Reserve is a 1,000 acre natural area between Bathurst Street and Bayview Avenue just north of Jefferson Side Road. It is envisioned to provide an extensive ecological link on the Oak Ridges Moraine. For more information on this initiative, please contact the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority via e-mail at, via telephone at (416) 661-6600, ext. 5211 or visit the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority Website.

Oak Ridges Corridor Conservation Reserve Trail Guide [PDF]

Oak Ridges Corridor Conservation Reserve Management Plan [PDF]

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