Floaties. Check. Cooler. Check. Towels and bathing suits. Check. Sunscreen. Check. What else do we need? A car load of our pals, our Bluetooth speaker, Jack’s playlist and enough cash to get us through the gate. Check. And we’re off to the ultimate summer tradition: a day at the Elora Quarry.
Forget the lake. It’s different here: deep, emerald green water and a sandy beach surrounded by 12-meter steep limestone cliffs, rocky shores and a forest of cedars with trails throughout the two-acre property operated by the Grand River Conservation Authority.
The hardest decision of the day is whether to grab a picnic table atop the cliffs, or lay our towels out on the sandy beach, or pick a spot on the rocky shoreline. Either way, the view is spectacular.
Tucked in alongside the Grand River, just a two-minute drive from the downtown shops, we’ll spend the afternoon under the hot summer sun and head to town for dinner later.
What to know before you go:
Get there early
Starting this year, the park attendance maxes out at 1,300 guests. It’s first come, first served. Beginning August 3, 2017, the park will close its gates once it reaches capacity and no additional vehicles or pedestrians will be allowed to enter for the day. The park is open the first Saturday in June until Labour Day from 10am to 8pm on weekends; weekdays from 11 am to 8 pm.
Parking is available on-site, but again, get there early and be prepared to line-up to park. Admission and parking are paid at the entrance gate. Once the lot fills up, you’ll have a hike to any free parking in the town.
There are no lifeguards on patrol. Parents and guardians are responsible for the safety of their children. I highly recommend life jackets for kids and if you don’t have one, the Grand River Conservation Authority will loan them out at the gatehouse. A small, refundable deposit is required. It’s worth it. Floaties are great fun, but that water is deep.
And while tales of cliff jumping are legendary, they are a no-no. The Elora Quarry, operated by the Grand River Conservation Authority, will remove those who take the flying leap. It never stops people from trying, but we have seen one belly flop too many gone wrong, so we’ll pass.
Pack your own food. There are plenty of places to picnic. There are no food vendors inside the park. Across the street from the main gate is Willy’s Chip Wagon, an awesome spot with great burgers, fries and sausages, but you’ll have to leave park to indulge. Make sure the gatekeepers know you are returning.
Don’t bring it. This is an alcohol-free park. You’ll get kicked out. Besides, the really good beer is downtown after you leave the park.
Leave Fido at home to enjoy the air conditioning and eat your shoes while you are out. No pets are allowed in the park. Do not leave Fido in the car, seriously. Don’t ever do that.
Bug spray and sunscreen
Have some. Oh, don’t make that face … Your mother would tell you the same thing. Surrounded by trees (hello mosquitoes) but not a whole lot of shade in most places, safety first. Thanks Mom.