Visitor Safety

Northumberland County strives to ensure that all visitors to the Forest have a safe and enjoyable experience. Help us make the Forest a welcoming recreational space where natural habitats are respected and preserved by observing the below guidelines.

Guidelines for visiting the Northumberland County Forest

  • Respect the Forest and its natural habitats by obeying signage, gates and barriers.
  • Park at authorized trailheads only.
  • Refrain from disturbing or feeding wildlife.
  • Please note black bears are present in the Forest. Please follow the guidelines and information provided on the Government of Ontario's Be Bear Wise webpage.
  • Dispose of waste properly - do not litter (including cigarettes and tissues).
  • Respect private property that borders the Forest.
  • Respect other users by sharing the trails and using trails only as designated.
  • Ensure pets are leashed and remove their waste from trails and parking areas.
  • There is no camping in the Forest.
  • Campfires are prohibited and please take care when smoking.
  • Respect enforcement personnel - they are there to clarify guidelines and help ensure the Forest remains a safe space for visitors and natural inhabitants.

The importance of observing signage in the Forest

Please help us conserve and protect the County Forest and its natural habitats – respect and follow all signage.

Signage throughout the forest indicates which trails are open for use. If you do not see a sign at the entrance to a trail, it is not a designated trail. Users are responsible for knowing which trails they can use. Maps of the designated trails are available on each recreational use category page.

County by-law officers, O.P.P., Conservation Officers and volunteer patrols perform enforcement regularly throughout the year.

Restricted access to Hydro One corridor in the Forest

The Hydro One corridor in the County Forest is a dedicated service corridor for maintenance of area hydro towers. While it may look like a maintained trail, this corridor is not for recreational use. The terrain along this corridor, along with the fact that it is not maintained as a recreational trail, makes this area unsafe for use by the general public.   

Fencing, gates and signage are in place where this corridor intersects with Forest trails to clarify that access to this area is restricted to authorized personnel only.

Safely managing encounters with wildlife

The Northumberland County Forest is home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears and coyotes.

If a wild animal poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety — call 911.

Black bears

Please note black bears are present in the Northumberland County Forest. Here are some steps to take should you encounter a black bear:

  • Stop. Do not panic. Remain calm.
  • Slowly back away while keeping the bear in sight and wait for it to leave.
  • Throw objects, wave your arms and make noise with a whistle, air horn or yelling if the bear does not leave.
  • Prepare to use bear spray.
  • Get inside a building or vehicle, if you are nearby, as a precaution.
  • Drop any food you may be carrying and slowly move away.
  • Leave a bear alone if it is in a tree. Leave the area. The bear will come down when it feels safe.
  • Play dead only if you encounter a mother bear with cubs.

To report bear sightings in the County Forest, please email us or call 905-372-3329 ext. 2303. For more information on preventing and managing conflicts with coyotes, access helpful resources from the Government of Ontario.  


While there have been no reports of aggressive coyote behaviour towards Forest visitors, there have been sightings along the trail network in 2021. Here are some steps to take should you encounter a coyote:

  • Never approach, touch or attempt to feed a wild animal- keep your distance and the animal will most likely avoid you.
  • Do not turn your back or run from a wild animal—back away from the animal while remaining calm.
  • Stand tall, wave your hands, and make lots of noise.
  • Keep pets on a leash and do not let your pet chase a coyote as it could result in injury to your pet.
  • Carry a flashlight at night.

To report coyote sightings in the County Forest, please email us or call 905-372-3329 ext. 2303. For more information on preventing and managing conflicts with coyotes, access helpful resources from the Government of Ontario.

Safety gates

To enhance visitor safety, gates are installed at all five trailheads in the Northumberland County Forest.

Gate at the Woodland trailhead in the County Forest Gate at the Beagle Club trailhead in the County Forest

These gates are for use by Forest Services in the event of an emergency; they remain open at all other times. When closed, these gates signal unsafe conditions in the Forest, such as trail damage due to significant weather events, active timber harvest operations, a fire or a declared emergency.

For your safety, if you notice the gates to a trail are closed when visiting the Forest, please visit an alternate trailhead. The County makes every effort to notify the public of trail closures via our website and social media.