At the start of the year I set myself one new years resolution: to go on 5 hikes. Super ambitious, I know. But despite all the odds, it’s now May and I have been out and about hiking the GTA almost every weekend since New Years day! Take that haterz. So if you, like pre-2016 me, have the hiking itch, but just don’t seem to be able to find the opportunities to get out and explore nearby trails, here are a few tips I have picked up that might help you get outdoors.
1. Tell your friends
I told a bunch of friends that my goal was to go on a couple of hikes, and It turns out so many of my friends were also closeted hike fans – who knew?! As a result, I was able to get in touch with a like minded new friend who was super keen to start a weekly hiking club. And so Nature Crush Club was born. Forming a little club was a great way to commit to weekly adventures. It’s so easy to stay in bed and talk yourself out of going outside on a miserable day, but you’re way more likely to do it if you have a friend waiting outside honking their horn at you.
Getting a group of friends, or a club, together is also great way to carpool. If your friends are like my friends, we’re super low on the friends to car ratio, so having one pal with wheels is a great help. Plus carpooling is better for the environment and keeps the gas costs down – everyone wins!
3. Stay local
If you have no wheels of your own, do not worry. There are many awesome trails easily accessible using the TTC or a bike ride away. Even on a Sunday when literally nothing runs and the TTC is a total nightmare. Trust me, you will enjoy the sweet relief of being in nature way more after 2 hours on a sweaty, overcrowded bus. There are also so many parks and trails on the subway line, a great example is Old Mill. We started on a ‘short’ hike one chilly Saturday in March and just kept going! We accidentally hiked for 15km and saw loads of wildlife, right on our doorstep.
4. Fit your hikes into your schedule
It can be tricky to find time to go out and hike, but no matter how much time you have available, there is a hiking spot close enough for you. We have found some great spots where we were able to get there and back in time for brunch, and some equally great spots that were worth spending the entire day travelling to and exploring. A great local hiking spot is Crothers Woods trail. It’s also a mountain bike path so you can see some pretty intense cycling going down alongside your stroll. Rattlesnake Point in Milton is a bit further out but has some amazing scenic views and ravines to explore. I have in no way provided enough examples of all of the hiking trails in the GTA – a quick Google search and you will see there are so many great lists and resources available to help you plan some easy trips!
5. Post pictures
I have been documenting my hiking experiences on Instagram, in between my regular non-stop vegan food posts (because who doesn’t love a constant stream of vegan food posts). I have found that so many people I know are now super keen on getting involved; I have no problem finding a hiking buddy every single weekend! In fact, I am pretty inundated with enthusiastic hiking requests from friends. Start a movement. Be the change. Or just post cute pictures of chipmunks and ravines.
6. Do go chasing waterfalls
I stole this hilarious TLC reference from my hiking buddy, but you have to know there are so many waterfalls in the GTA. And not all of them are surrounded by creepy wax work museums and 20ft dinosaur attractions, looking at you Niagara. There are so many awesome hikes around Hamilton and Dundas where you can explore multiple scenic waterfalls along one trail.
7. Go out whatever the weather
We have hiked in snow, rain, wind- you name it. I promise you will have fun no matter what. Plus don’t let the weather fool you – if it’s sunny when you set out, you’ll likely hit clouds and rain in the spring anyway – and vice versa. One day we started out in sunshine and the first green scenery of spring, and we ended the hike in 3 inches of snow, in a winter wonderland. It’s a good idea to take a backpack so you can switch up your outfit a bit, you can get super hot even when it’s a bit chilly out and the worst thing is hiking when you are too cold or wet.
8. Get some decent hiking boots
I have never been too concerned about buying the right gear for things, on the few occasions I have entered the gym it has been in a band tee shirt and gym shorts I have owned probably since childhood. However, hiking boots will likely increase your enjoyment of a hike. I picked up a pair for $40 and they have allowed my tootsies to remain clean and dry through deep snow and muddy trenches, and are still nice and comfy now the weather is a bit warmer. Just make sure they fit comfy I guess. I am in no way an expert on hiking boots. Also a backpack is handy, as mentioned earlier. Also, light-weight wind breaker type jackets. Actually, you know what, you will be fine. Wear whatever you have on right now, you are not Bear Grylls. You will survive and have a lot of fun I promise!
Now get out there.
Written by Theresa Ramirez