In 1999, Torrance Barrens Conservation Area was designated as the world’s first permanent Dark Sky Reserve. The 4,700-acres of Crown land is bedrock and wetlands, with trees and bushes that are stunted in height. For star-gazers this means a spectacular 360 degree view of the night sky, unhampered by light pollution. Even an amateur’s telescope can see the rings of Saturn. Late in the summer and in the early fall it’s posssible the northern lights (aurora borealis) could put in an appearance.
The Barren’s also doubles as an exceptional hiking and mountain biking destination, with 3 well marked trails for public use.
Encompassing 1,990 hectares (5,000 acres), the Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve is one of the most striking geological areas in Muskoka. The lunar landscape of the Torrance Barrens is characterized by low ridges of Precambrian bedrock, separated by wetland and peat-filled hollows. The barren landscape contains scattered boulders and little soil. The prevalence of bare bedrock is a direct result of wave washing of glacial lakes Algonquin and Nipissing. The nationally rare Eastern Bluebird, and Cooper’s Hawk can be spotted from the Barrens, along with diverse vegetative species. Ontario’s only lizard, the five-lined skink can also be spotted here.