15 May, 2017
3 signs you’re ready to become a New Explorer
Do you find yourself staring longingly out your office window at trees in the distance? Have you recently changed your smartphone’s alert tones to chirping birds and babbling brooks? Does your bike seem to veer off paved paths as if it’s searching for a more rugged route?
If you answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, perhaps your brain is sending you some serious signals that it’s time to schedule in some outdoor fun. The good news is that in Hamilton Halton Brant there are dozens of experiences geared toward people who may feel like they need a little extra guidance when it comes to exploring outdoors. Here are some activities we think you’ll love:
IF YOU LIKE SCENIC SHORELINES
- Start your day with a leisurely paddle at the Burlington Waterfront. Watercrafts are available for hire, including kayaks, canoes, stand up paddleboards and paddle boats.
- Next up, grab your bikes for a pedal along the seamlessly smooth Waterfront Trail that connects Burlington and Hamilton. This trail is perfect for parents with trailers and kid seats, as well as little ones learning to pedal on their own. Enjoy scenic Lake Ontario shorelines, playgrounds, beaches, attractions and restaurants as you make your way into Hamilton along the 10 km trail.
- Stop at Confederation Park for an afternoon of fun. Kids will love the water park and the activities and attractions of Adventure Village. Just be sure to save a little bit of energy for the ride back.
IF YOU'D LIKE TO GIVE PADDLING A TRY
- Enjoy scenic views, wildlife and lush Carolinian forest on a kayaking experience along the Grand River. Grand River Rafting will provide the equipment you need, a map and a quick lesson before you head out, so you can feel confident as you paddle downstream. Bring a lunch to enjoy at the picnic area stop-off, complete with facilities for your convenience.
- Learn about our nation’s rich heritage in a comfortable 12-passenger voyageur canoe as you paddle along the Grand River, a Canadian Heritage River. This guided six-hour paddling experience takes you downstream where you’ll learn about wildlife in the surrounding Carolinian forest and the history of the river.
- Local outfitters Grand River Rafting and Grand Experiences have canoes, kayaks, stand up paddleboards and tubes for rent and offer guided and self-guided experiences. You can also rent a canoe or kayak from Brant Park Conservation Area and get a 2-for-1-deal if you have a membership.
- Grand River Rafting in Paris has mapped out a great route on the Grand River for people eager to try stand up paddleboarding. They’ll provide a lesson before they send you off on the 9-12 km trip so you can feel confident on the water. You’ll pass by amazing scenery and a picnic area complete with facilities.
- If you’re looking for a full day paddle, try Grand Experiences’ Seneca Run. The 20-km route gives you plenty of time to enjoy the amazing scenery of the Grand River, as well as some exciting low-key rapid action.
- For a Great Lake paddling experience, check out Royal Botanical Gardens’ three-hour paddling experience that takes visitors to Lake Ontario’s Cootes Paradise Marshland to explore and discover wetland plants and wildlife.
IF IT'S ABOUT TIME YOU TOOK A HIKE
- Enjoy a guided half-day hike through Royal Botanical Gardens’ diverse trails and landscapes. The moderate hike combines physical activity with nature and learning and can be tailored to complement desired interests. Or explore on your own, Royal Botanical Gardens’ Cootes Paradise offers nature lovers access to a 320-hectare river-mouth marsh, glacial plateaus, 16 creeks and 25 km of shoreline through its 18 km trail system. The Marsh Boardwalk provides access to the Spencer Creek Delta, one of the largest creek deltas on Lake Ontario.
- Conservation Halton’s seven parks boast a combined 87 km of trails ranging from easy to difficult. At each park you’ll find something special, including a Meromictic Lake, amazing wildlife, or some of the best views in the province.
- Hamilton is a hiker’s paradise boasting a vast trail network and over 100 waterfalls that are easily accessible from the city’s core. The Bruce Trail, an interconnected network that spans 800 km from Tobermory to Niagara Falls, cuts through the city highlighting many remarkable features of the Niagara Escarpment.
- The 2 km Six Nations of the Grand River Nature Trail in Ohsweken is a great option for young hikers. The trail takes hikers on a journey through one of Ontario’s last remaining Carolinian forests. Interpretative signs along the route help create an appreciation for the largest single block of Carolinian woodland in Canada.
- Families will also love the ease of Brant Park Conservation Area’s grass trails along the river bank that take you through natural areas for wildlife viewing. The park also runs along the SC Johnson Rail Trail that connects Paris and Brantford. The SC Johnson Trail will take you along the Grand River as well as through a rare Prairie Grass habitat. Glenhyrst Art Gallery is just steps off the trail and offers amazing garden tours.
- Bronte Creek Provincial Park is a great place for an outdoor adventure with little ones. Day trippers have access to four scenic hiking trails that are 3 km or less in length, plus a 1.8-acre pond-shaped pool, complete with life guards and a wading area. The park’s Playbarn and petting zoo are also a hit!
IF YOU'D LIKE TO GIVE FLY FISHING A TRY
- Enjoy 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 to master the techniques, set-up and safety of the sport while fishing for steelhead, rainbow trout and brown trout.
IF YOU PREFER TO PEDAL
- Halton’s Leather Town Spin cycling route is perfect for recreational riders looking for a day of fun. The 37 km route takes you along rural roads from the hamlet of Glen Williams near Georgetown, passing through farms and wetlands before taking you into the quaint town of Acton. Have a bite to eat before looping back and be sure to stop at points of interest along the way.
- Breathtaking views of rich agricultural land and the Niagara Escarpment are everywhere on this 31 km route. Park at the Mattamy National Cycling Centre (Milton Velodrome) then head over to Bell School Line and down into beautiful rural Burlington. Cycle under the impressive rock face of the escarpment on Walker’s Line. You’ll eventually wind your way back up to the Village of Kilbride.
- You’ll find great mountain biking trails at Kelso Conservation Area, Hilton Falls Conservation Area and Mountsberg Conservation Area.
IF YOU'RE A BUDDING BIRDER
IF YOU'RE IN NEED OF NATURE AND LIFT
IF YOU THINK GEOLOGY ROCKS
- Spend a day discovering the fascinating history and geological features of Eramosa Karst Conservation Area. As one of southern Ontario’s last glaciers slowly began to melt about 13,000 years ago, the impact of the dissolving ice on stone created a series of sinkholes, disappearing streams, caves and valleys known today as the Eramosa Karst.
- Check out the Devil’s Punchbowl, a wondrous ribbon waterfall that cascades 33.8 metres in the air. It’s a spectacular sight any day of the year, boasting a great view of Stoney Creek and the Hamilton Harbour from the lookout, not to mention the view down into the seemingly bottomless gorge.
IF SNOW MAKES YOU SMILE