There are Good things in the Bad Lands

Welcome to Caledon, Ontario

Day Trip To Mars?

Ontario is full of hidden treasures that are sure to amaze and delight you. Some of these unusual sites will surprise you. The Cheltenham Badlands is one such spot where you can take a day trip just one hour west of Toronto to visit. This unusual looking area might make you think you are on the surface of Mars.

What are the Cheltenham Badlands?Cheltenham Badlands in Caledon Ontario

The badlands are an area of exposed iron-rich Queenston shale formed at the base of an ancient sea over 450 million years ago. The bedrock became exposed after years of poor farming practices in the 1930s caused erosion of the soil and vegetation that covered the area. Rich iron oxide deposits cause the bright red colour of the rock, and the streaks are due to oxidation caused by the groundwater. The result is truly one of Ontario’s most distinctive landscapes.

It is part of an area designated as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

Visiting The Cheltenham BadlandsUnusual attractions in Ontario Cheltenham Badlands

Located in Caledon, Ontario, this unusual geological site has long been a local attraction. The Badlands are located just NorthWest of the city of Brampton, on Old Base Line Rd between Mississauga & McLaughlin Rds, and makes for a unique day trip idea from many parts of Ontario.

Reservations are required to visit the badlands and can be made up to two weeks in advance through the Credit Valley Conservation website. Your visit includes parking and allows you 1.5 hours of access to the boardwalk around the Cheltenham badlands, the viewing platform and the Bruce Trail.

More Good stuff after the Badlands

When you visit the Cheltenham Badlands, the duration of your visit is limited to 90 minutes. So what can you do to make this a full day trip destination? We have some suggestions for you:Spirit Tree Estate Cidery made it to our Butter Tart Quest.

Spirit Tree Estate Cidery

The Cidery is located on 46 acres of land in the picturesque setting of Caledon hills.
The owners have food in their blood, and they share a real passion for food – and Cider. They have gone from being farmers to being fully trained in cider making, culinary arts, bread bakers, and pastry chefs, and probably a lot more.

Learn their story.

We first encountered Spirit Tree Estate cidery several years ago when we were looking to visit the Cheltenham Badlands and explore some of the area’s small communities. The Badlands were closed to visitors, but the cidery was not. We discovered it purely by accident, but now it is a regular must-visit destination spot for us. There is a lot to love about Spirit Tree Cidery, but since this is a butter tart quest article, that is what we will focus on.

 

The Butter Tarts

The flavour options available at Spirit Tree Cidery are plain, raisin, & pecan

 

Crust:

The pastry for the Spirit Tree Cidery & bakery’s butter tart is one of the flakiest I have ever seen. It has layer upon layer of light, flaky crust. So much so that when you cut it in half, the individual layers are pretty evident. The pastry is just a beautifully crafted classic pastry that is evenly baked – there is nothing to mask a perfect pastry. There is only a slight hint of sweetness detected in the pastry. While the crust is super flaky, it also manages to be very firm; and it holds up nicely as you eat it.

 

Filling

The filling for the butter tarts is very buttery, creamy, smooth, and has a nice custard texture. It is a delightful tasting#buttertartquest buttery filling without being too sweet – just sweet enough. There is a light brule topping on the butter tart, and there is only minimal ooze. The filling is very rich, buttery tasting, and sumptuous. The raisin tart only has a couple of raisins per tart and thus do not overpower the flavour. There is no sugary nugget on the bottom, no overly sweet syrupy flavour – just a nice creamy smooth filling.

 

Crust to Filling Ratio

The crust to filling ratio is decent – but not exceptional. The filling is about halfway up the total tart, and because the crust is so thick, there is much more pastry in each bite than there is filling.

Overall Experience

The butter tarts at Spirit Tree Estate Cidery and bakery hits the mark on so many points – our butter tart quest took us to the Spirit Tree Estate Cidery and Bakerythe exceptionally flaky crust, the rich butter flavour, the creamy smooth filling, and the fact that it is not too sweet. These are all fantastic attributes to these butter tarts that make them a thoroughly enjoyable treat. They also hold together very well and thus are perfect for enjoying on the go and will maintain their shape on a long road trip.

 

 

Beyond the Butter Tart

Their cider is what made them famous, and it is crafted on-site using fresh Ontario apples, pears, and other local fruits to make their seasonal offerings. But there is so much more to this place than just cider. This is a full gastro tourism experience.

 

Spirit Tree is…. A Cidery, Bistro, Bakery, Farm Shop

 

When you visit the Caledon area, a visit to Spirit Tree Estate Cidery needs to be a part of your itinerary. The cidery has a lovely spot for outdoor dining; there is a patio (tented) restaurant for seated dining, as well as picnic tables dotted throughout the grounds. They offer take out pizzas, premade or made to order sandwiches and a variety of beverages. In addition, the bakery has a large assortment of delicious pastries, a mini grocery, and a market stocked with local meats, cheeses, and produce. Bread lovers will be amazed by the wall of bread, which contains so many delicious options to buy; you will want to stock up.

The destination for people who love to be delighted by life’s daily indulgences.

The Cidery is also available to host your special events, weddings, and parties in a beautiful outdoor setting.

Covid:

In our current Covid -19 pandemic world, how has Spirit Tree Cidery adjusted to keep their customers (and staff) safe?

                                              • They have implemented a one-way pathway through the store to guide customers around the perimeter.
                                              • There are a series of 6ft distance spacer stickers on the floor.
                                              • Limited number of customers allowed in the store at one time.
                                              • Hand Sanitizer in multiple locations throughout the shop.
                                              • Outdoor picnic table seating is available to enjoy your wood-fired pizza. Tables are spaced far enough apart from each other to ensure small family bubbles can enjoy outdoor dining safely.
                                              • They have an outdoor dining room / patio covered by a tent and heated with propane heaters, with tables spaced apart. Reservations required.

Other Spots to Check out When you visit Cheltenham Badlands

 

Hiking

There are plenty of hiking trails in and around the Caledon area. As this is part of the Niagara Escarpment, you can explore areas of the Bruce Trail. Use the AllTrails app to find other fantastic hiking and walking trails as well.

Check out our Tips for Hiking

 

Conservation Areas

Terra Cotta & Belfountain conservation areas are beautiful spots to visit and are only a short drive from The Cheltenham Badlands. The Forks of the Credit Provincial Park – known for its spectacular views and scenery is also a very popular spot to visit.

 

BelfountainGreg Bellefontaine in the Town of Belfountain, Ontario

In the tiny & picturesque village Belfountain, you will find an enclave of quaint little shops, a café, and an ice cream shop that are popular with locals and tourists alike.

 

 

Heatherlea Farm Market is an old-fashioned butcher shop in the rolling hills of Caledon. It is a cornucopia of fresh Mao of the Caledon Areafarm deliciousness, including meats, cheeses, fresh produce, baked goods, ready-made meals, and café / bakeshop.

 

The Badlands Brewery is located a couple of blocks away from The Cheltenham Badlands. It is an on-farm craft brewery. If you are visiting the area on a Saturday between 12 – 5 pm, you can stop by for a pint or grab some cans/bottles of their suds to take home.

 

If you are looking for a unique day trip destination, Caledon is a great option. With a combination of fantastic eateries, small-town charms, natural beauty, conservation areas and hiking trails to explore, and one unexpected geological attraction, there are plenty of good things to experience in the Badlands area.

Spirit Tree Cidery butter tarts

 

*note: All butter tart reviews are the opinions of Roguetrippers only, based on our experiences and personal preferences. Your opinions may vary.

If you know of a great bakery making what you think are Ontario’s Best butter tarts, we would love to hear from you. Let us know about them, so we can plan a future road trip to check them out and include them in our #ButterTartQuest.

Contact Roguetrippers with your suggestions.

Author

Adventurer, gastro-tourist, avid road tripper, and butter tart aficionado. Exploring the road less travelled and the adventures that exist for all to see if you open yourself up to new possibilities. Greg and his husband Nick are residents of Guelph, and their greatest joys in life are exploring the world around them. Road trips with no real destination are a favourite past time. Get off the beaten path and discover somewhere they have never been before. Sometimes the best vacations are the ones you don't really plan. Life is about the journey together and not the destination.

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