Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Brantford – A Treasure Trove of Outdoor Activities

When we think of outdoor activities like hiking, camping, fishing, paddling, and cycling our minds usually tend to wander to remote vistas and wilderness solitude. You know the old saying, "Perception is reality!" Well, the reality is that you often don't have to go very far to find the perception of wilderness solitude. In fact the City of Brantford is one such hidden Southern Ontario gem.

I always thought of Brantford as the home of Alexander Graham Bell, Joseph Brant, and of course Wayne Gretzky, but I was thrilled to discover another side to Brantford. Nestled along the banks of the Grand River Brantford is a treasure trove of activity for outdoor enthusiasts. Some of the highlights include: the Grand Valley Trail, Brant Conservation Area, and the Grand River Exceptional Waters Region. Fishing in this area is second to none with an abundance of species from small mouth bass, pike, and channel cats, to walleye and rainbow trout. There are many access points and the river can be fished from shore in many locations, or wade and cast the shallows. If you're looking for something a bit more leisurely you can drift the lazy current in a canoe or kayak.

Whether you hike, fish, or paddle, the perception of wilderness solitude is very real, especially on and around the Exceptional Waters region that runs from Brantford to Paris. Even though you are surrounded by everything from towns and cities to farmland and major highways, you'll likely never know it. All you will experience is that tranquil feeling that only comes from a wilderness experience, but with all the advantages of being close to a major urban area.

Depending on your interests and pocket book, accommodations range from 4 star hotels to B&Bs to tranquil campsites along the Grand River, and local attractions are abundant and varied. If you're feeling lucky why not head to the OLG Casino, or take a side trip to the Canadian Military Heritage Museum, Chiefswood National Historic Site, Bell Homestead National Historic Site, the Woodland Cultural Centre, or take in a show at the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts.

Be sure to put the City of Brantford on your list of must visit places in Southern Ontario.

©2010 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions

Friday, September 24, 2010

Beaver Valley, An Autumn Delight

The Beaver Valley in Grey County has always been a well know destination for downhill skiers, with resorts like Talisman and the Beaver Valley Ski Club being the primary destinations. Well don't leave all the fun to the downhill skiers! This is a must visit destination for hikers of all skill levels.

Walters Falls, Eugenia Falls, Old Baldy, and the Duncan Crevice Caves are just some of the vistas you will enjoy along this portion of the Bruce Trail. The trail is rugged with lots of hills and valleys so be sure you are physically prepared for a vigorous outing. There are many side trails and loops that make for a great afternoon hike. Most are noted in the Bruce Trail Reference Guide available at many Canadian bookstores. This guide not only shows the Bruce Trail and side trails it also references parking areas, camping areas, and points of interest.

There are plenty of accommodations available in the area ranging from campgrounds to luxury hotels, including many private cottages and chalets for rent. If you're looking for a unique place to stay that will comfortably hold and sleep a dozen or more adults check out the Riverdale Schoolhouse or call Peter Connor at 519-546-5848. This is a renovated schoolhouse from the late 1800's in a very private setting only a couple of miles from the town of Markdale and very close to Bruce Trail access points and Old Baldy. Another great venue is The Falls Inn at Walter's Falls . The Bruce Trail runs right beside the property. This is a bit more upscale for those that like to be pampered at the end of a long day of hiking.

Autumn is in the air and mother nature will soon be performing her colorful transition from summer to winter. A fall hike in the Beaver Valley when the leaves are turning is a treat you can't afford to miss, and don't forget your camera.

©2010 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Singing Sands – A Sensory Experience

If your Southern Ontario outdoors adventures take you to the top of the Bruce Peninsula don't miss the chance to visit Singing Sands just south of Tobermory on the Lake Huron side. Just off of Hwy #6 this wonderful natural area maintained by Parks Canada located at the foot of Dorcas Bay has something for everyone. Small children will enjoy the sand beach and shallow water, while nature lovers will be treated to a variety of sights, sounds, and smells.

The crunch of gravel in the ample parking lot soon turns to the soft silence of damp sand. You can wander down to the water's edge where there are always seagulls strolling in the shallow water; listen to the gurgle of the creek as it makes its way to the beach; or gaze in wonder at the vast beauty of this spectacular venue.

Next your footsteps echo the soft hollow knock of wood as you stroll along the well maintained boardwalk and gaze over a sensitive protected "fen" where you will see a variety of flora and fauna unique to the Northern Bruce Peninsula. Pitcher plants, venus fly trap, ferns, and orchids are just some of the treasures that will great you along this self-guided walk. When you're finished take a stroll along the bush trails and bask in the natural beauty of pines, cedars, and open meadows.

Be sure to scoop up and waste that your four legged friend might leave behind, but the Parks Canada crew have made this easy with doggie bag dispensers located in the parking lot. There are also modern clean washrooms onsite.

Spend an hour or spend the day but don't miss this great sensory experience on the Northern Bruce Peninsula in Southern Ontario.


© Lloyd Fridenburg - 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Successful End to End Hiking in Southern Ontario

Have you ever sat back and looked maps of a trail system and thought how nice it would be to walk the entire trail from end to end. Your dreams are soon dashed when the details of travel, parking, distance, etc. start to creep into your thoughts as well. It can be quite daunting to look at something like the Bruce Trail that runs all the way from Niagara Falls to Tobermory; a distance of nearly 900 km. There are a few tips that can definitely make this a practical reality instead of the impossible dream.

Think Small

One mistake that novice and experienced hikers alike often make is to tackle too much at once. Remember it's all about the journey, not the destination. Break your hike into small manageable hikes and don't get too hung up on a specific timeframe. As soon as your venture starts to feel like work, or the destination has become the only thing that really matters your chances of completing your journey are lessened.

Join a Hiking Club

Southern Ontario has an abundance of hiking clubs and organizations. They can offer a lot of knowledgeable guidance from veteran hikers. Many clubs like the Grand Valley Trails Association offer planned end to end hikes under the guidance of qualified hike leaders.

Carpool and Leapfrog

Even if you elect not to join a formal club you can still attain your goals by recruiting some friends that have a similar interest and planning a bunch of shorter hikes along your chosen route. Two or more cars are the best way to get to and from your start and finish point. One car is dropped off at the finish; those hikers are picked up and taken to the start where the second car is left. At the end of the day the process is reversed.

Use a GPS

This is a very efficient way to ensure that everyone arrives at the correct start and finish points. It can also be a good way to check your progress throughout the day. And, even though trails in Southern Ontario are generally well marked, it is possible to wander off the main trail. A GPS will quickly help you determine your error and get you back on track.

So as you see with a bit of planning and forethought, completing an end to end hike of a trail system, regardless of the length, is a realistic and practical goal.

©2010 Lloyd Fridenburg – All rights reserved click here for copyright permissions