Centred in King Township the Happy Valley Forest is one of the largest remaining intact hardwood forests on the Oak Ridges Moraine. Happy Valley Forest is classified as a provincially significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and is protected by the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan. It is a 2850 acre natural area consisting of an upland forest on steeply rolling topography, old field habitats, several creek valleys, various wooded swamps and wetland areas. The Happy Valley Forest is recognized for its size and the presence of various rare species. It supports more than 110 breeding bird species including the threatened Hooded Warbler and the Red-Shouldered Hawk and is the home to nationally significant species such as the Acadian Flycatcher and the Jefferson Salamander. Happy Valley is an example of a mature sugar maple and beech upland forest with some ancient White Pines still towering above Happy Valley. Other species of trees include Paper Birch, White Ash, Eastern Hemlock, Black Cheery and Red Oak found throughout. Moreover, several kettle depressions (ancient landforms created by glacial ice deposits) are still present.
The Forest (also known as the King Forest) is an important headwaters for rivers that flow both to the north to Lake Simcoe and to the south of the area. As a result, Happy Valley Forest is divided between two conservation authorities: Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority to the north and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority to the south. Along the unopened 7th Concession Road Allowance the trail has been used for generations as a walking/equestrian trail. Unfortunately, it has been used an off-road dirt bike and ATV trail as well. This is a concern because the vehicles create noise, damage to the plants as well as resulted in severe erosion problems on and adjacent to the road allowance trail. Although a portion of the Township owned lands are fenced and gated, these vehicles still find access by damaging the fences and gates. The Township is investigating methods and options of restoration and preservation of the trail - with a focus on the erosion and threats to the tree canopy. The Oak Ridges Trail Association utilizes a portion of the Forest to connect to the 250 kilometres of trail they manage. The Trail starts with a link to the Caledon Trailway near Palgrave in the west and continues to the town of Gores Landing on Rice Lake in the east.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) has taken an interest in the preservation of Happy Valley and to date has secured about 200 acres of forested land through land purchases, land donations and conservation easements. The Happy Valley Forest is a special area that has all of the elements necessary to achieve old-growth structure in the next 50 years due to its large scale to allow for natural disturbances. This is the only area on the Oak Ridges Moraine large enough to make this achievable. The NCC has identified the Oak Ridges Moraine as one of its “National Masterpieces” and works hard to preserve and protect this gem.