The Jack Darling Leash Off Leash Dog Park (1180 Lakeshore Road West) is one of the biggest surprises of my spring so far – it’s huge. Approximately, 22-acres of leash free fun through forest, along paths, past ponds and a cement building along the shores of Lake Ontario off Lakeshore Drive in Mississauga.
The Jack Darling Leash Free Dog Park is one of the largest fully fenced off leash dog parks in the province – I’ve been living one hour away and had no idea. So much for thorough research.
I’d ventured out to Mississauga earlier this year to meet up with a new trainer I’d met – more importantly, my dog had met – at the Spring 2023 Canadian Pet Expo. Yes, I’m considering giving training one more try. We’ll see if that works out.
The problem is Mississauga is a significant drive from my home, especially with Toronto traffic because that’s what you encounter even an hour outside that city. I had to make the trip do double duty. With my dog in the car, I followed the GPS instructions (through construction zones) to the shores of Lake Ontario straight into the main gates of the Jack Darling Leash Free Park.
Jack Darling Off Leash Small Dog Park
Signage was clear along Lakeshore Road, parking was easy and we started our off-leash fun in the small dog park – which was charming. The Jack Darling off leash small dog park is on a slope, well treed, and has a picnic table where some people sat to watch their small (very small) dogs frolic.
Despite the shrubs and foliage, you can see from one side of the park the the other. My pup, though slightly larger than the minimum size, had a great time.
But wait. There’s more.
We headed to the other double gates to what looked like a larger park by a hill clearly used for tobogganing in the winter time. My dog seemed to know this park meant business – and she was right. We followed the hill up and up, around a pond (yes, my dog got wet), to the top of the hill, and I thought, “Well, that’s it. We walk back down now.”
Nope. We walked and walked. Following paths, around and over a cement structure I later learned is a water treatment facility, into other small forested areas, leading to open play zones where the ground is run bare and a circle of dogs kick up the dusk. All fenced. All full of dogs. The Jack Darling Leash Free Dog Park is large enough to get lost.
Jack Darling Memorial Park
More dogs and their people joined the park, entering from different gates. Turns out this place is so big there are four different gates around the perimeter, each with their own parking lot. Note: the toboggan hill entrance is the north side.
Of course, dogs began filling the park, especially as 5 o’clock in the afternoon morphed into evening after work hours, and pups who spent the day at home were anxious to get their run on.
My dog is a fast and furious zoomer. Dodging and weaving with ease, she avoids problems easily. We didn’t encounter any. But the beauty of this park is that it’s possible to steer clear of areas (or people and dogs) that look potentially problematic by taking another path and heading up to another zone when others are heading down. There are distinct areas to the park – not one big open expanse.
Conveniently, there’s one water fountain near the north entrance (or exit in our case), many benches throughout the park, and message boards at each gate informing visitors of rules, events, and other issues suck as tick season.
Lake Ontario with the Dog
Let’s not forget the lake. Just outside the fenced boundaries of the park – you’ll have to put a leash on the dog – is the shoreline of Lake Ontario, one of the five Great Lakes. This park is called Jack Darling Beaches and Waterfront and is part of the larger Jack Darling Memorial Park. (I’m not sure who Jack Darling was, other than being an influential citizen of Mississauga in the last century).
Near the lake, you can leash walk for kilometres along the shore. Or claim a picnic table and BBQ and set up for the afternoon eating lunch while your bird dog intensely watches swooping seagulls drift over the wind-blown waves. On a good day, you can see Toronto’s CN Tower in the distance. Then pack up and head back into the leash free park because if your dog is like mine, that’s where she really wants to be.
Fun Facts about the Jack Darling Off Leash Dog Park:
- The Jack Darling Leash Free Park is actually inside a larger park called the Jack Darling Memorial Park
- The Jack Darling small dog park is very popular with toy dogs
- Part of the leash-free dog park is actually a ‘living roof’ of a functioning water reservoir and treatment pant belonging to Peel Region.
- A chain-liked fence secures the perimeter and a gate closes off the toboggan hill from dogs in the winter
- The small dog park is intended for toy, teacup, and tiny dogs less than 25 pounds
- Hours are 7 am to 9 pm year round, seven days a week
Here is what is extra special about this park, which gives me hope more dog parks can open in other regions (including mine): The Jack Darling Leash Free Dog Park is actually run and paid for by an incorporated non-profit volunteer group called Leash Free Mississauga (LFM) that works with the City of Mississauga to set up and maintain dog parks in the city.
This park, like a few others, is maintain by municipal staff and volunteers. Those using the park frequently were asked to buy a $10 annual membership – but as of 2020, memberships are free and wisely donations encouraged.
However, the Peel Region Jack Darling Off Leash Dog Park is open to out-of-town visitors (like us) without a membership. Dropping by while you’re passing through is possible. The LFM also oversees three other dog parks in the Peel Region, which are on our list to visit. Maybe a dog-friendly weekend in Mississauga is in order soon. Pack a picnic.
If you go…. Jack Darling Leash Free Park Address
- Mississauga is located about 20km west of Toronto next to Oakville, Ontario, Canada.
- The Jack Darling Memorial Park (and leash free dog park) is located at 1180 Lakeshore Road West, Mississauga.
- The park is open year round, seven days a week, from 7 am to 9 pm. Gates lock at 9 pm.
Lakeside Park in Mississauga, Ontario is part of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail that spans most of the Ontario shores of The Great Lakes. The Mississauga portion of the waterfront trail is a continuous trail passing 22 parks. Walking any part of this trail with your dog requires a leash, and of course, poop bags.
Writer bio: Sherri Telenko has been a professional writer for decades and a travel writer for the last two. She’s a member of TMAC (Travel Media Association of Canada) and Dog Writers Association of America and travels almost weekly with her canine companion, Victoria. Contact Sherri at dogtrotting.net here. All written content is original, written by a person, and based on experience and research. Please subscribe!