During the lockdowns, I discovered walking and hiking as my new pastime during the pandemic.
In the past I did a lot of walking, but mainly downtown or through nearby neighbourhoods. This summer I actually discovered some amazing hiking trails, ranging from easy to challenging.
Of course there is nothing that compares to the Niagara River Recreational Trail, right in our own back yard. Or the great new walk along the shoreline that starts from the gazebo all the way to the end of the NOTL Golf Course. It makes a great walk that gives you a view of the lake, a short walk along the local streets, and then finishing it all off by walking along Queen Street, back to the park.
If you want a more strenuous walk, you can head to Queenston, where there is a small parking lot on the corner of York Road and the Niagara River Parkway. The trail goes up the escarpment to Brock’s Monument and the Landscape of Nations Memori-al. Once you get to the top, you get a wonderful view of Niagara-on-the-Lake and the mouth of the river. Of course the walk down is even better . . . lol.
In other parts of the region there are other great spots as well, such as Short Hills Provincial Park for the more serious hikers, along with a big chunk of the Bruce Trail. J.C. Park in St. Catharines is also a great spot, with a paved walkway that goes over a bridge to Port Dalhousie and Lakeside Park.
Down near Lock one on Lakeshore Road is Malcomson’s Eco Park, that is a gentle walk through the woods with the added feature of little multi-designed bird houses that dot the trail. This is an easy walk with much to look at.
Up near Brock University there is Glenridge Quarry Naturalization Site, with its own pond and a great view of Lake Ontario. It also has a children’s discovery centre. Well worth the drive.
The great thing about all of these places is that they are free, and each has a personality of its own.
One thing I discovered that makes me feel good all over is the people who are walking these trails. Many of them are seniors, and many are walking their dogs. The key is almost everyone has a sense of respecting other walkers’ personal space. Most are not wearing masks so when walkers cross paths one set moves to the right and the other moves to the left. If we are on a part of a trail where it is narrow, one walker will move a little off the trail to allow the other walker to pass.
Here is the best part. Each walker has a smile, and usually exchanges a greeting. Sometimes there is even a longer interaction, like petting the dog, or commenting on the weather or the trail itself.
I enjoy brightening other walkers’ days by making comments to get a chuckle, such as when I see an older couple walking holding hands (which I think is fantastic), I say, “Wow! Young love, that’s great to see.” Or, when I see a group of seniors I usually say, “Hi kids!” with a big smile on my face.
Of course the fun part is all of the comments I get back. One woman said, “Young love, I have been with this one for over 40 years.” And we all laughed.
The highlight of my day has been these walks and the interactions that I have with fellow walkers. The wonderful places to walk, but also the smiles, the friendly greetings of people who have decided to beat the boredom and celebrate what we have here in Niagara, and the amazing people who are doing the walking. Give it a try, and remember to smile and say hi.
Ted Mouradian is the President of the 2% Factor Inc. and creator of the Law of Cooperative Action. He is an author and professional speaker and can be reached at email@example.com