Take Your Dog to Oakville, ON: Leash-free Hiking Trail at Bronte Creek Provincial Park.

Bronte Creek Provincial Park Campgrounds

Dog using Solvit Car Seat CoverMeet Sasha. She’s the reason I need a Solvit waterproof car seat cover. Otherwise, the bucket seat in my Kia Soul would be destroyed.

Sasha is a lab/Belgian Malinois cross rescued from the SPCA four years ago. She’s also my terrier Victor’s best buddy – they met when Sasha was smaller than Victor and spent a lot of time together. She taught him how to have a dog friend, and he taught her how to be a dog.

Unfortunately, they don’t get to spend as much time together as they once did. Fortunately, they get to still see each other occasionally, usually for an outing, which means I pick Sasha up, take her out with us, and bring her home … in my car. After she’s had a lot of fun.

Sasha likes streams, and water and mud.

Sasha is huge … you get the idea. My car needs some protection.

Fortunately, Solvit gave us a car seat cover in exchange for an honest review.

Solvit Car Seat cover dogtrotting.netHere it is: Made from a durable moss green fabric that reminds me of LL Bean in feel and quality, this cover fit the bucket front seat of my car well. The black ‘hood’ fits over the headrest and three straps hug the seat’s back. A white plastic tube slides into that crevasse where your keys sometimes do, keeping the cover from sliding forward.

It didn’t move with Sasha sitting on it, wet or dry.

Like other Solvit products, the Waterproof Bucket Seat (affiliate) cover solves a problem – it’s easier to remove and wash than my car’s upholstery – and that’s what Solvit’s innovative designs do. Victor still loves his Solvit Car Cuddler (affiliate) bolster seat we use almost daily. I’ve thrown that in the wash more times than I can count … including last August.

On Wednesday, August 17, 2017, Victor and I picked up Sasha and headed out to Bronte Creek Provincial Park campgrounds in Oakville, Ontario for two reasons:

  1. All provincial parks were free that day (admission is usually $15) and
  2. Bronte Creek has a leash free hiking trail through the woods.

Yes, a 2 km leash-free looping hiking trail, located in the camping half of the park – the day use half is one exit west along the QEW highway and there’s an open leash-free field there too. At the Bronte Conservation Area campgrounds, though, dogs can run free in the woods above the Bronte Creek ravine. Watch for the brown and yellow signs.

Bronte Provincial Park’s Maple syrup festival is an annual draw for locals (check out our dog-friendly fun last year) and so is the 1.8-acre outdoor pool (not dog friendly) in the day use park.

But we’re here for the sounds and smells of the forest, and so are other dogs and their people. I expected to meet up with other unrestrainted pooches but I wasn’t prepared for the packs – neither was Victor.


Professional dog walkers bring six to eight dogs at a time to run along the worn path carved through the meadow following the leash-free signs … or take the short cut from the parking lot (which I discovered late) to the group camping picnic tables and get under the shady leafy canopy sooner.

Natural Value Chicken Sausage Recipe dog treatsAt the picnic tables, however, the siren of sausages called, specifically Natural Value Chicken Sausage Recipe from Loving Pets. According to the company, the dog treats are entirely farmed and made in the U.S. (specifically New Jersey) and free of soy, grain, gluten and wheat.

We’re taking a bag I was given at SuperZoo for a test drive, after the dogs’ get a drink of course. The sausages are actually linked together by a skin-like casing, which proved at first a little tough for Victor to bite through. Once he did though, he liked the filling accented with rosemary extract. (He even dragged the bag across the floor when we got home).

Sasha, however, had a mixed response, enthusiastically eating two or three then spitting out the fourth.

But that was before her spa treatment.

A leash free trail – what a civilized idea. Like smoking, people are going to do it, so give them a designated place and everyone against it can stay clear.

Dogs at leash-free trail Bronte Creek Provincial Park dogtrotting.netI love the idea almost as much as Sasha loves water – or mud if water is scarce. Five minutes before I planned to leave Bronte Provincial Park, she manages to find the only puddle along the hard packed dry trail (it’s been hot) and lies down. Flat out. It was more than the towel I had in the car could handle.

Fortunately, it wasn’t more than the Solvit Waterproof Bucket Seat Cover could handle and as I drove home, watching Sasha drip dry in the front seat (where she prefers to sit), I planned my laundry for the next day, and our adventures for the next week.

Victor fell asleep in his Solvit bolstered car seat, mud free (almost) and a little too full of sausages.


Natural Value Dog TreatsWant to try a Natural Value Loving Pets product?

I’ll send one lucky winner randomly selected from the comments section below a 14oz bag of Natural Value Duck Stick Recipe 100% farmed and made in the U.S. from duck and turkey.

Post a comment below and/or let us know about your favourite leash-free spot. Deadline: October 15, 2017. (Open to U.S. and Canadian readers).


  1. […] 28, 2023 was the day to lace up your running shoes and head to the Bronte Creek Provincial Park in Oakville, Ontario. If you love running, the main event was a 5K and a 10K around the park (a few […]

  2. […] Once at the camping park, however, a vast space awaits and so do densely forested hiking trails, a designated section of which is off-leash. (Check out an adventure with my previous dog, Victor, here). […]

  3. […] Check out Oakville with the dog for details. […]

  4. […] What is a dog ‘exercise area’ at an Ontario provincial park is a little vague, maybe intentionally so. The term ‘leash-free’ is not used on the website, yet pictures of free running dogs are. When I asked parks representatives, I was told that whether dog exercise areas are leash-free is up to individual park wardens who monitor situations daily. (Check out our leash-free hikes at Bronte Provincial Park). […]

  5. […] for a leash-free trail run, nothing beats Bronte Provincial Park, near the camp […]

  6. […] That’s right, dogs with good recall (clearly) can race along wooded trails off leash and running and cycling ‘enthusiasts’ dressed like Power Rangers can’t say anything about it. (Clearly, I’ve had confrontations). Several kilometres long, the trail is near a parking area with facilities and water facets for filling bowls. Check out our dog-friendly Bronte Park fun day here. […]

  7. […] I’ve already used it on her. Last visit, she rolled in … well, whatever…  during our hike at Bronte Creek Provincial Park so her lab-like coat got slathered in EQyss Elite conditioning shampoo when we got home. Sulfate […]

  8. Bronte Creek is such a wonderful park!! I particularly enjoy the dog-friendly trails that you can access from the upper middle road entrance. Love this place.

    1. Sounds like you’ve been! I’m going to try and get there more often (especially now that I have an Ontario Parks pass good until November).

  9. This sounds wonderful. We take our pups to the parks near us and can usually find an area that they can run and play with us for a bit without a leash. The park also has an area for anyone to walk their dogs on a leash. Also, a play area for them in a fenced area. Many don’t like to use it, as there are bigger pups there, and if you have tiny dogs, something could happen. We love to take our pups to different areas with us, but if it’s a new place, always on a leash, first. Autumn is our favorite season as it is not too hot, not too cold, and flea season is usually over!!! My poodles are my furbabies!!! They are my family and so smart and very sweet.

  10. These seat covers are a great idea. Pet hair is notoriously difficult to get out of things. My cats can turn my van into a disaster area, so I can only imagine what dogs can do. I’m lucky that cats don’t really like mud. LOL This is the sort of product that every modern pet owner should have.

    1. My dog doesn’t shed so when I get a dog that does (like the big one in the post) I can’t believe how much fur they leave behind. That’s another advantage of the cover – I can take it out and shake it.

  11. spencerthegoldendoodle · · Reply

    Wonderful post! Looks like so much fun and we love the Solvit car seat covers!!! They come in handy especially during the spring time! 🙂

  12. Of course Sasha found the puddle – it’s all part of the adventure! Is the area fenced? It sounds like a great place to visit and not too far from us. Thanks for sharing.

    1. No fence – it is a nature trail and only part of it is off leash. Neither dogs take off far … if they want to get back home.

  13. I have a Solvit dog bag, which we love. Haven’t tried the seat cover, but it sounds really great.

    I love that there is a designated leash free trail. Ruby can’t be off leash in public, but I know some dogs enjoy it – and you are right, people are going to do it anyway.

  14. What a beautiful park. Looks like Sasha and Victor had such a great time and that you came well prepared! That cover looks awesome! My dogs aren’t small enough to fit on our bucket seats, but if they were, I would definitely consider this cover! Thank you for the informative review!

    1. My smaller terrier does not like to sit in the front, which is fine by me. Sasha, however, demands it. People sometimes drive by and look twice because she sits there like a person.

  15. Good thing you had the Solvit seat cover since the mud puddles were a favorite for the day.

  16. Paroma Chakravarty · · Reply

    I like the idea of dogs romping in mud and water and having a good time, but not leaving muddy paw prints in the car. So Solvit seems like a good idea. Will have to look into it more since we sometimes take our neighbor’s dog to hiking and he is huge too!

    1. I huge ones get mud every where. I once had a border guard ask it go off reading …inside the car.

  17. It looks like you had a lovely day! I love seeing dirty dogs, but I don’t want my car seat to be covered with mud. The cover sounds like a perfect solution.

    1. It is so much easier to pull the seat cover off and clean it than scrub my car seats. It’s too late to save this car but my next one is getting seat covers day one.

  18. Our favorite leash-free spot is the dog park. I don’t know of any truly off-leash trails around us. For some trails I’ve read conflicting information about the use of leashes, which makes me shy away from those areas. I would prefer to follow consistent rules so a leashed dog isn’t meeting an off-leash dog. That just seems unfair and unkind to everyone involved.

    1. The one leashed one not is were I run into issues if any. I like dog parks too especially those with big and little dog sections. Victor loves being the biggest little dog.

  19. I know a lot of dogs love the outdoors and having an actual proper seat cover for the car is a real help. I am not thrilled by offleash dogs but I know its a real benefit for their mental health to be able to roam for a while.

    1. I have found that if I’m somewhere where all – or both dogs meeting – are off leash, there’s less tension or problems. When one is leashed and the other isn’t (or both are) the dogs tend to be more reactive.

  20. That looks like a fun park and hike! I have to admit, I try to stay away from places that allow off-leashed dogs. I love Solvit products, I have a bike trailer from them for Dexter!

    1. I love Solvit too – very innovative. I know if my little guy didn’t run and run free he’d be crazy (or crazier) especially in the house. I exercise him a lot and I have none of the behaviour problems his three (yes, unfortunately three) owners before me complained about.

  21. Sasha is gorgeous! I can see that she really does love the mud. My big boys do too.

    1. Sasha is the size of a miniature horse … it’s like sleeping with one too.

  22. There’s a huge off-leash area by us in the suburbs. Mr. N loves to run and run there and yes, the dogs usually come home filthy after hiking there!

    1. It’s astonishing how dirty they can get fast.

  23. Nice you had a good time on the outing in the forest. LOL go figure Sasha finds the only shallow puddle to lay in. At least you were prepared for the ride home!

    1. I was prepared this time because I haven’t been in the past. The destruction of the car started minutes after I bought it.

  24. The Contemporary Pet · · Reply

    Sadly, there aren’t any ‘leash free’ areas in my town. I often take Soldier down to a friend’s house in another town so that he can enjoy a romp in their dog park. I hope we’ll have a leash free trail someday – your photos showed everyone having so much fun!

    1. Good that you have a yard to go to. I’m surprised there aren’t more leash free parks around – maybe we need to lobby at the municipal level.

  25. Those duck treats look great – but also that seat cover!! Go Sasha! 😀

    1. Yes, go Sasha …directly into the water, every time.

  26. what a great idea. protective seat cover for messy dogs. That’s Sasha. clearly I need to get one especially since I’m Sasha’s owner. Great blog as usual. Forgot to mention that Victor also taught Sasha to assert herself and not be as timid around other dogs. She is a big girl but very much a gentle soul

    1. Yes, they are a good price and I now have Amazon.ca through my blog too. Thank again!

  27. That car seat cover looks great — I always stand on a sheet or blanket, and it doesn’t look that great.Oh, and can I visit you and your wonderful park?

    1. Yes, thanks. I am thrilled we have a leash free hiking trail. Walking through woods on a leash is, I think, a bit dangerous especially near steep ravines.

  28. What a beautiful place, wow, I am laughing so much over the mud bath as I sometimes wish Layla would do silly things like that but she sees a drop of water and freezes LOL

    1. Yes, Sasha lies right in water – or mud – like a lady taking a leisurely bath.

  29. Our mom says she could use one of these for some of our human family members! MOL What a lovely day for a hike, and the scenery is just beautiful. It must be fun to be off leash.

    1. Actually, I got another seat cover for the driver’s seat too – similar reason: spilled coffee not mud.

  30. Wow, what a wonderful day! Good thing you have a seat cover because Sasha sure is big and sure did soak up that puddle pretty good, LOL!! I agree, having a designated off leash area is the best thing. I don’t let my Husky off leash in unsecured areas, ever. Mainly because she’s a Husky! They were born to Run, and run and never stop…. Also, I don’t trust strange dogs running off leash – actually it’s the owners I don’t trust! Your photos are beautiful, I laughed out loud at Victor’s “Bark Who Goes There!” That’s hilarious! Thanks for sharing.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    1. Thanks. I didn’t think about Huskies running non-stop. Mostly the dogs do ok when both are off leash and great each other – it’s when one is on a leash and other isn’t that the confined one sometimes feels cornered. The day I was there, is was many dogs with one person, a dog walker brought the whole pack here likely because it’s easier.

  31. Sandy Weinstein · · Reply

    i like the solvit seat cover, i need one of these. i like going lease free in the woods and fields behind my house. i live on 11 plus acres and they girls love it.

    1. I do recommend them. I bought another for the driver’s seat too

    2. Congrats! You are the winner of the Loving Pets Duck Stick dog treats in a random draw. I’ll contact you via email. Thanks for reading http://www.dogtrotting.net.

  32. Looks like a very nice place to go for a romp. Glad the seat cover worked as it was supposed to and the car didn’t get the brunt of Sasha’s good times.

    1. She was pretty bad. My car fared better than her ‘dad’s’ couch after I dropped her back at home.

      1. Oh my! Hope “dad” wasn’t too upset.

  33. Unfortunately my dogs cannot be off leash. So our favorite off leash spot is our fenced in backyard. It’s fun for them to run around the yard and destroy my garden. They love looking at all the squirrels and birds. On the rare occasion my cat is crawling on the fence it makes their day. I have a beagle mix and if he catches a sent he is gone. Then my other dog a husky Mix is too strong minded and will run away for fun.

    1. My terrier used to take off too, but with some practice he’s much better. I think he’s figured out if he wants to go back home, he better go back to the car with me.

  34. This is awesome, we do not have any off leash public areas unfortunately but we do enjoy running off lease in our yard, walking in the neighborhood and going go parks and trails

    1. I’m surprised how many communities don’t have off leash parks. I guess you have to be close to highly populated urban areas.

  35. This sounds lovely. We don’t have a favorite leash-free spot near us, but we do go to many parks and open space areas near our home that permit leashed pets. We have many wooded and open trails to choose from and there are some creeks and streams available as well. Autumn is our favorite time to be outside.

    1. Thanks. Yes, I plan to do some fall camping with the dogs before it gets cold… which doesn’t look like any time soon!

Thanks for reading! Let us know what you think...

%d bloggers like this: