Friday, 15 March 2013

Niagara River Recreation Trail (Niagara Falls)

If you are looking for a casual stroll on a sunny Sunday, or a place to roller blade, bike or run, the Niagara River Recreation Trail is the perfect area to do so. This is a 53km path that starts in Fort George in Niagara-on-the-Lake and runs along the Niagara River and up to the Queenston/Lewiston border crossing. The trail passes through forest areas, parks, back roads and urban areas along the Niagara Parkway.

Some of the best features are the amazing lookout points, where you will find many tourists with the cameras (which shows the beauty and popularity of the area). My favorite resting point is at the Sir Isaac Brock Monument. This is a massive statue of the historical figure of the War of 1812. The statue is located in a beautiful area with lookouts, a restaurant, fields and picnic areas. Learn about the War of 1812 and historical significance to the area. Below, in the river, you may also see the Whirlpool Jet Tours racing by in the summer time.

While you are exploring this side of Niagara, I suggest that you check out some popular local wineries such as Reif Estate Winery, Lailey Vinyard, Peller Estates Winery and Inniskillin Wines.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Woodend Conservation Area (Niagara-on-the-Lake)

Woodend Conservation Area is located on top of the escarpment, just a few steps away from the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus of Niagara College. It is an important historical site for the Niagara Region; after the United Empire Loyalist family of Peter Lampman fleld New York State in 1779, they received a grant for the 650-hector piece of land. It was also considered an observation point during the War of 1812, as the Queenston Heights battle, Beaver Dams battle and Lundy's Lane battle took place just miles away.

Currently, there is a small village area owned by the Niagara District School Board, which will soon be revitalized into an innovated environmental centre called the Woodend Living Campus. 

There are several hiking loops to choose from, which all take you through forest trails that wander the top of the escarpment. You will also enjoy a nice view of the Niagara College vineyards and orchards on the flat plain below and perhaps some interesting surprises on the way - I ran into several wooden tipi forts throughout the trail. This area seems abandoned in the winter season, but once spring and summer arrive and the environmental centre opens, I imagines it will soon be a popular place for student field trips, family picnics and hiking adventures!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Ball's Falls Conservation Area (Jordan)

Lower Falls (in the Fall)
Ball's Falls is a part of the UNESCO bio reserve that offers visitors a range of experiences, including trails, waterfalls, a historic village, wedding venues and an innovative Centre for Conservation. This historical cite is one of the Niagara Region's earliest settlements dating back to the early 19th century and has evidence of being a rich source of resources that dates back 2000 years.

The historic village will take you back to life in the early 19th century, with a blacksmith shop, display barn, church and more. As the map outlines, take a 20 minute hike to the Upper Falls (the smaller of the two) via the Cataract Trail or a shorter walk through the historic Village to view the Lower Falls.

The gorge that runs along Twenty Mile Creek is a site to see with colourful shale and sandstone layers. Like many provincial parks and conservation areas in Ontario, Ball's Falls connects to the Bruce Trail. Entrance to the park is $4 per person and is necessary if you drive there.
Upper Falls running through Twenty Mile Creek

I visited Ball's Falls for the first time on a winter day and the flow of the waterfall was massive. It appears it is quite different in the summer and fall, so be sure to explore in a variety of seasons.

While in the area, explore the many things the Niagara Region has to offer. Check out Rediscover Niagara for more ideas, including the Comfort Maple Tree, just 15 minutes away from Ball's Falls.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Benefits of Hiking (Top 10)

Why walk? The simple step-taking activity that we do on a daily basis can prove to be highly beneficial for your mental and physical health! Yes, I'm sure this is common knowledge to us, however many people take for granted how effective walking can be for your health. I compiled a top 10 list of the benefits of hiking based on Doctor Oz, Doctor Roizen and

John Muir - the founder of the Sierra Club says, "Walking yields a greater closeness to the earth, an independence. The solid thud of boots on the path means freedom to stop and admire a flower, to move at one's own speed, to rejoice in crossing a stream on risky stepping-stones to explore the off the trail, to get a close-up of the du jeweling the grass."

Top 10 Benefits of Walking 
1. Improve fitness
2. Refresh the mind
3. Reduce fatigue
4. Increase energy and happiness
5. Natural movement that is virtually injury free (good for any age and physical capability)
6. Provides an enjoyable time for socializing with friends and family
7. It's cheap (if not free!)
8. Reduces blood pressure and improves digestion
9. A closeness and appreciation to nature
10. It's fun!

A healthy lifestyle is a happy lifestyle, check out these blogs to further your quality of life! - Fitness Blog - Yoga Blog

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Urban Hiking

For most people the concept of hiking consists of remote areas, dirt paths and forests.  However, modern forms of hiking are also available for those who live in suburban or metropolitan areas. Most city centres have areas designated for walkers, runners, hikers and bikers.
One of the more common urban walking trails in Southern Ontario is the Waterfront Trail. This runs 620 km along Lake Ontario and will now be extending to Lake Erie. Some popular areas of the trail are in Oshawa, Toronto, Oakville, Burlington, Hamilton, St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-lake. The trail is generally paved and easy to walk with many scenic parks and views along to enjoy throughout.

An urban hike does more than offer physical benefits, it gives us the chance to explore the terrain we live in and interact the space we call  home. Get out and explore your neighbourhood!

See your city website for walking areas and options. For example: