Koffler Scientific Reserve at Jokers Hill

About this Location

The lands that include Jokers Hill were originally assembled by Colonel RS McLaughlin, founder of the Canadian arm of General Motors. In 1952, he gave the estate to his daughter Billie and her husband, Major General Churchill Mann. The couple managed a thoroughbred racing and breeding operation on the site, and built an extensive trail system.

After passing through several hands, the property was purchased by Drs. Murray and Marvelle Koffler in 1969. Kofflers retained architect Napier Simpson to redesign the main residence, and landscape architect J Austin Floyd to reconfigure the grounds and ponds.

In 1995, the Kofflers donated their 350-hectare equestrian estate, Jokers Hill, to the University of Toronto. The gift made the University one of the largest landowners on the Oak Ridges Moraine—and steward of a site of regional, provincial and national significance.

In the spring of 1996, scientists and students from the University of Toronto headed north to a new property, the Koffler Scientific Reserve at Jokers Hill. There, atop the Oak Ridges Moraine, they found a landscape carpeted with opportunity. The natural and agricultural ecosystems on the site offered tantalizing prospects for studies in biodiversity, ecology, evolution and conservation science. The property’s proximity to the campuses meant that students would have ready access to a place where they would not just learn about science, but where they could do science. In the years since, the Koffler Scientific Reserve at Jokers Hill has become an internationally recognized facility, with a distinguished record of research, training and public education.

Notable Trails

Access and Hours

Public trails can be accessed from two points. The main public access on foot is through the Bathurst Street entrance between Highway 9 and Mulock Drive). Trail access is from the first turn-in on the west side of Bathurst, just north of Keith Avenue, Newmarket. Note that the parking lot in this area is owned and operate by the Town of Newmarket. Please make plans to access our trails safely, legally, and following local ordinances. Please refrain from parking illegally, on our neighbors’ property, in firelanes, or in dangerous locations.The Blue Trail can also be reached through the Thornton-Bales Conservation Area, on the 19th Sideroad (Mulock Drive), King Township.

New Trail Hours! 

April 1 – October 31, 6:00 am – 9:00 pm

November 1 – March 31, 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. 

Trail Descriptions

Three trails loop through the eastern 50 hectares of Koffler Scientific Reserve.

Green: Rising gently from the Bathurst entrance to a scenic overlook of Newmarket and points east, this trail runs though habitat restored to red pine plantation in the 1960’s.

Red: A longer loop, the red trail rises and falls through the rolling landscape.  Restored woodlots give way to naturally-recovering forest of oak, maple, beech and yellow birch.

Blue: Extending form the Bathurst Street entrance through to the Thornton-Bales Conservation Area – “the 99 steps”. Passing through regenerating forest, past the east pond and through a maple sugar bush, this trail is a side spur of the Oak Ridges Trail, and maintained through the generous efforts of the Oak Ridges Trail Association.

Rules and Policies

The accessibility of the public trails depends upon your cooperation with the following policies, designed for safety and to protect the ecological integrity of the reserve. Please note that all users of the public trails do so at their own risk, and that the reserve is not responsible for any problems that may occur on our trails.

  • Stay on marked trails at all times
  • Night use is prohibited, and violators will be subject to arrest for trespassing
  • Observe the signs closing trails under rehabilitation
  • Dogs are allowed, but must be on leash and out of streams and ponds
  • Hunting and fishing are prohibited
  • No horses or wheeled vehicles of any type (including bicycles)
  • Fire, fireworks and firearms are prohibited (including paintball guns)
  • Leave nothing, and take only photographs
  • Do not disturb flagging, stakes, fences, or other markers denoting research and conservation sites

Trail Issues?

Notify the Station Manager ASAP. Please contact the Station Manager, Kate Brown, right away by phone 416-697-9418, email ksr.manager@utoronto.ca

Please contact us if you see visitors misusing the trails.

History of the Hiking Trails

The most significant conservation measure ever taken at Jokers Hill was when General Mann, one of its first owners, sent bulldozers through the forest! Those bulldozers created a network of bridle trails that soon attracted the equestrian community, who in turn, made Jokers Hill a vibrant centre able to resist the pressures of development during the post-World War II building boom. The horses are gone, but many of the trails remain. Thanks to efforts of our partners, the Oak Ridges Trail Association, York Region and King Township, the University of Toronto can open several routes on the Reserve’s eastern end for public enjoyment


  • Entrance fee

  • Roadside viewing

Content from Koffler Scientific Reserve at Jokers Hill website

Last updated April 5, 2023

Jokers Hill trail map and property boundaries
Don Boyes
Jokers Hill Hiking Trails
Koffler Scientific Reserve, University of Toronto