A black-capped chickadee perches on maple boughs, above the Oak Ridges Moraine’s mature pines at the Rice Lake Conservation Area.

The Oak Ridges Moraine is a fantastic place to explore in every season. With more than 50 parks, trails and protected areas across the moraine there are plenty of places to find serenity, explore and observe nature. More than 1,200 animal and plant species can be found on the Oak Ridges Moraine, including more than 75 species-at-risk.

This photo journal was inspired by my many explorations of the moraine’s trails, fields, forests and other natural spectacles.

hairy_woodpecker_Rice_Lake_Conservation_Area_Oak_Ridges_Moraine_22_3_2015_Noah_ColeUnder the warm sun, a hairy woodpecker seeks out insects living in a paper birch tree at Rice Lake Conservation Area.

Rice_Lake_Conservation_Area_Oak_Ridges_Moraine_22_3_2015_Noah_ColeThe rolling hills and majestic forest of the Oak Ridges Moraine, seen above frozen shores at Rice Lake Conservation Area.

blue_jay_Duffins_Creek_Environmental_Education_Centre_Claremont_2_22_2015_Noah_ColeA blue jay surveys visitors to the cedar forest trails at the Duffins Creek Environmental Education Centre in mid-February.

contrasting_shadows_Ganaraska_Forest_Oak_Ridges_Moraine_1_25_2015_Noah_ColeContrasting shadows captivate hikers on a sunny January hike in the Ganaraska Forest – southern Ontario’s largest forest.

Garden_Hill_Conservation_Area_winter_2_8_2015_Noah_ColeGarden Hill Conservation Area hosts a broad diversity of species in its wetlands, pond and mature pine forest – and is beautiful even on a dreary winter day.

maple_tapline_Purple_Woods_Oak_Ridges_Moraine_1_18_2015_Noah_ColeThe Sugar Shack Trail in Oshawa’s Purple Woods Conservation Area.

paper_birches_during_winter_Purple_Woods_Oak_Ridges_Moraine_1_18_2015_Noah_ColePaper birches provide remarkable contrast with the snowy trails at the Purple Woods Conservation Area.

Purple_Woods_panorama_Oak_Ridges_Moraine_1_18_2015_Noah_ColeLooking southeast towards Oshawa and Lake Ontario from the Purple Woods Heritage Hall’s observation platform.

eastern_bluebird_June_Secord_Forest_and_Wildlife_Area_Goodwood_Noah_ColeAn eastern bluebird perching on top of a spruce, in early June, at the Secord Forest and Wildlife Area.

common_ringlet_Rice_Lake_Conservation_Area_Noah_ColeThis common ringlet butterfly rests at Rice Lake Conservation Area.

bobolink_Rice_Lake_June_Harwood_Oak_Ridges_Moraine_0492_Noah_Cole_2Bobolinks tend to their nests and chicks in June, along the moraine.

osprey_June_Rice_Lake_Oak_Ridges_Moraine_Noah_ColeOspreys soar above the moraine, where they scoop up fish from lakes and ponds.

Oak Ridges Ganaraska _attribute_noncommercial_Kiril_StraxBeautiful streams run along the trails of the Ganaraska Forest.
Photograph by Kiril Strax.

monarchs_and_cup-plant_flowers_Dawn Knudsen_Marvellous_Moraine_assetMonarch butterflies feeding on the nectar of cup-plant flowers, in autumn on the moraine. Photograph by Dawn Knudson.

red-tailed_hawk_Noah_Cole_28_3_2015The open habitat of the Oak Ridges Moraine provides great hawk-watching opportunities during fall migration.

Photographs and text by Noah Cole.

NoahNoah Cole is Ontario Nature’s communications assistant.