Fall in the air and with so many activities cancelled due to the pandemic, local trails are seeing a surge in visitors, from beginners to avid hikers.
“It’s for everyone. It’s not expensive and all you need is a pair of running shoes,” says Nicola Ross, author of Waterloo Wellington and Guelph Hikes: Loops and Lattes.
In her book, Ross aims to make hiking more accessible for those interested in exploring their local trails.
“These towns have such a great network of trails, and we should use them,” she says.
And there are so many to choose from.
“I visited 35 trails. When you hike them, you really get to know them,” Ross said.
“Now that I’ve hiked along rivers like the Speed and the Eramosa, I now understand them and see where they both connect.”
Waterloo Wellington and Guelph Hikes is the fifth, and latest, book of the Loops and Lattes series that was released last year.
And it’s not just a book, it’s a guide.
According to Ross, the guide can be an essential piece of hiking equipment. This helps people stay on track, suggesting places to visit including a stop for lunch or a warm frothy latte.
Whether it’s a short walk or a full day of hiking, the guide offers something for everyone with maps and photos of hiking loops in Guelph, Cambridge, Kitchener, Woolwich, St. Jacobs, Elora, Erin, Fergus, Elmira and Rockwood.
Rich in culture and history, these trails are suitable for all ages and abilities.
“It was really fascinating, seeing all of the horses and buggies, and getting to know the Mennonite and German cultures. It really brings an interesting element to the book,” Ross said. “And the other noticeable thing is how flat it is.”
Ross hiked trails ranging from two to 22 kilometres over a one-year period exploring routes through dense forests, historic towns and villages, to miles of lush farmland.
“It’s so much fun to walk them and then to write about them.”
“When I look for hikes, I contact various associations and municipal governments and that leads me from one person to another.”
Whether hiking in the Guelph Arboretum or in Preservation Park, Ross says each trail has so much to offer.
“It’s so special. To be able to get right inside some of these areas and not just seeing them from your car. I hope that with the guide, more people get out on the trails. And the more they see them and hike them, the more they will learn to look after them,” Ross said.
Loops & Lattes Hiking Guides describe about 140 loop routes that appeal to casual walkers as well as seasoned hikers.
In addition to the latest guide covering Guelph, the series also includes hikes in Caledon, Halton Hills, Dufferin and Hamilton.
The loop routes all begin and conveniently end at the same location.
Each loop route in the guide is accompanied by a detailed map, precise directions, colour photos and interesting facts.
“I live in Caledon, and when I joined a local hiking group, I realized that many people didn’t know some of their own local trails,” Ross said.
“When the books came out, I found out that this is something people really want. There’s something about the guide that makes it approachable and there is an appetite for it.”
For Guelph residents, there are so many accessible trails ready to be explored. And you don’t have to go far.
“To be able to walk away your everyday concerns, hiking is great mentally and physically. There so much information about stress reduction and the chemistry of being outside with the trees and in the forests,” Ross says.
“And it’s something you can do together as a family and you can turn it into a day outing. It’s also social and great for conversation. Or you can just walk the trails with your dog.”
During the pandemic, when many are encouraged to stay home, a walk outdoors can feel more important than ever.
“There’s so much to see right in you own back yard. It’s about getting outside and away from your computers and onto these trails,” Ross says.
“When you are hiking, you get to know the landscape more intimately. It’s so simple. Just get outdoors and look at nature.”
Waterloo Wellington and Guelph Hikes: Loops and Lattes can be purchased at a number of outlets including The Bookshelf, Wild Birds Unlimited, Janus Books and also online.