Is your bike rack permanently attached to your car? Do you cook better on your camp stove than your real stove? Has your outdoor gear collection grown to the point where it requires its own room?
If you answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, you qualify as an avid adventurer in our books. Here are some experiences in Hamilton Halton Brant that we think will be right up your alley:
IF YOU LOVE MOUNTAIN BIKING
Kelso Conservation Area in Milton where you’ll find easy access to the park’s 22 km of Niagara Escarpment trails that are well marked and rated by skill level for convenience. There’s also a new Mountain Bike Skills Zone, which features wooden bridges, rollers, rocks and logs, is a great place for riders of all ages to check out before heading out on the trails.
Hilton Falls Conservation Area in Milton has 18 km of tough terrain. Tight turns, rock sections and steep downhills offer hours of adrenalin pumping adventure. It is recommended to come prepared with tools and extra tubes.
Advanced riders looking for a wild ride will love singletrack riding in the Dundas Valley. You’ll pass by several waterfalls and experience elevation changes along the routes. Experience with trail navigation is recommended, as the routes are easy to follow using rider generated maps on Everytrail, but aren’t well marked. You can also get a riding map from Freewheel Cycle located downtown Dundas.
IF YOU LOVE LEARNING ABOUT PLANTS, BIRDS AND NATURE
Take your nature knowledge to the next level on an interactive hike with outfitter Grand River Rafting. You’ll learn how to recognize and use edible plants and trees, traditionally used by First Nations. This 2-3 hour hike will also teach you how to identify 35 plants and trees by smell, touch and visual quirks, as well as the history of First Nations people and wildlife that live in the valley.
Continue exploring with a Cootes Paradise Marshland paddling experience, starting at Royal Botanical Gardens. Learn about the amazing birds, fish, plants and animals living in the marshland, as well as Royal Botanical Gardens’ conservation efforts. If you’re lucky, you might also see some new residents that have created quite a stir with local birdwatchers: the first bald eagles to hatch on the Canadian shoreline of Lake Ontario in over 50 years.
You can also explore Cootes Paradise Marshland by foot at Royal Botanical Gardens on a guided 2.5-hour hike where you’ll learan about the area’s unique natural history and and see the wildlife and migratory birds that inhabit the reserve.
Mountsberg Conservation Area’s Douglas G. Cockburn Raptor Centre is home to 15 different birds of prey, each with their own unique story. During spring and fall migration, thousands of birds, particularly waterfowl, flock to the lake while hundreds of songbirds flit through the forest and meadows. Birds of Prey shows are held daily in the summer and on weekends and holidays the rest of the year. You can also arrange for a private raptor encounter.
IF YOU LOVE TO FISH
Head out on a Grand River fly fishing experience with Fly Water Guiding, a local outfitter in Paris. Fly Water Guiding offers introductory fly fishing and casting courses for beginners, as well as drift boat walk and wade trips for advanced anglers. Fish for steelhead, rainbow trout and brown trout on these great experiences.
Mattamy National Cycling Centre in Milton was built for the Pan Am Games and features a 250-metre long, 7-metre wide timber track with 42-degree banked bends and 13-degree banked straights. It is the only facility of its kind in Canada and only the second that meets top international standards in North America.Cyclists looking for a new challenge that offers year-round, indoor riding opportunities can get a taste of the track with a special "try it" session before getting certified through the centre’s certification programs. Once you’re certified you can drop-in to the velodrome anytime for a ride, even if you’re not a member. Racing bikes and equipment are available for rent.
IF YOU LOVE HIKES WITH STUNNING SCENERY
Grand Experiences Canoe & Kayak Outfitters invites you to experience waterfalls, scenic vistas, Carolinian forest and the natural beauty of the Niagara Escarpment on a Bruce Trail Waterfall Walk. Led by an experienced guide, you’ll see a total of 19 stunning waterfalls on the two-day hike and 28 waterfalls on the five-day hike. Off the trails, you’ll enjoy outstanding local cuisine and overnight accommodations in the area’s best hotels.
For a full-day, self-guided hiking experience head out on the Spencer Adventure, a route mapped entirely within the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. Start your journey at Christie Lake Conservation Area and head out on the Spencer Adventure Trail. Follow the trail along Spencer Creek through one of Upper Canada’s earliest industrial communities.
Or, head to Paris for a Nith River winter hiking experience. You’ll learn survival skills like how to build a fire and a shelter, navigational skills and all about the wildlife you may find in the forest near the river.
Embrace the flake with awesome activities like skiing and snowboarding at Kelso’s Glen Eden.
Try a paranormal moonlit rafting adventure. Travel with Six Nations guides for a 60-90 minute night paddle to the oldest pre-confederate mansion on the Grand River. Upon arrival, guests will watch paranormal footage and listen to voice recordings that were collected inside the house, followed by a tour highlighting where these events took place.
Experience the best whitewater canoeing, kayaking or rafting that Southern Ontario has to offer on the Nith River. Outfitter Grand Experiences in Paris offers guided and instructional Nith River trips in the early spring and late fall when the water levels are at their highest, producing Class 1 and 2 rapids.
Learn about First Nations history on a rafting trip down the Grand River with outfitter Grand River Rafting. This 4-hour guided experience features lessons in edible plants and trees, wildlife viewing, drinking from freshwater springs, body surfing and more.
The 32-km Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail is Ontario's first entirely off-road, interurban hiking and biking trail. The trail begins on the west side of Hamilton and follows the scenic Dundas Valley for 18 km to Jerseyville with a long steady climb for 8.5 km. The entire trail length is surfaced with stone dust and posts mark each kilometre from the Hamilton end. Benches are provided along the trail, but there are no shops until you reach Brantford.
The Hambur Loop winds 50 km through Hamilton and Burlington, offering recreational cyclists a great touring option for taking in some of the area’s most stunning waterfronts and scenic lookouts. Using mainly existing pathways, rail corridors and gravel trails, the route is perfect for bikes with wider touring or hybrid tires. Cycle-friendly restaurants and hotels are conveniently located right on the route, making it easy to explore the route over a few days at a more leisurely pace.
A classic Halton “big ride”, the Lakeshore Fondo is an exploration of both city and country. The 70 km route takes you across the shore of Lake Ontario westbound from enchanting Oakville through the beautiful, lakeside city of Burlington. Enjoy the climb up the Escarpment into the beautiful Victorian Village of Waterdown, then head back to Oakville through the rolling rural roads of First Line and Lower Base Line.
IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A CAR-LESS ADVENTURE
No car? No problem! Take the GO Train to your next adventure in Hamilton Halton Brant. GO Transit offers bike trains every day of the week (except during rush hour), making it easy for car-less adventurers to explore new places.
Get off the train at Burlington GO Station and make your way to the waterfront for a stand up paddleboarding experience. You can rent stand up paddleboards and other watercrafts from local outfitters located on the beach. Some outfitters offer stand up paddleboard yoga classes for those looking to add a little zen to their adventure.
Next, swap your paddle for pedals and make your way along the scenic and smooth Waterfront Trail that connects Burlington and Hamilton. The route is 30 km round-trip and offers scenic views, amenities and restaurants along the way.
If you’re looking for a longer ride, head out on the Hambur Loop. The 50 km trail winds through Hamilton and Burlington, offering recreational cyclists a great touring option for taking in some of the area’s most stunning waterfronts and scenic lookouts. Using mainly existing pathways, rail corridors and gravel trails, the route is perfect for bikes with wider touring or hybrid tires.