Invigorate your soul and be one with nature. One of the great things about York Durham Headwaters is that we’ve got cities and towns living side by side with nature reserves, forests and conservation areas. Heading for a trail when you want some exercise is about the same as heading to the gym. Hiking on a trail is a vastly different experience than simply walking around your neighbourhood. Whether you are taking your four-legged family member for a stroll, you are putting in some serious kilometres of hiking, or you are enjoying some winter fun like fat biking, snow shoeing or cross-country skiing, trails bring us all back to nature and stirs within us a sense of peace. How challenging you make your trail adventure is up to you.
Uxbridge in Durham Region is officially designated the Trail Capital of Canada. “The Township of Uxbridge has over 330 kilometres of trail,” says Amanda Ferraro, Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture. “That’s pretty special for a small town.” In a wonderful example of collaboration between our various authorities to provide usable and enjoyable trails to the public, the township is assisted with trail management by Durham Forest, the Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority, and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
Furthermore, within the past five years, Uxbridge has invested a significant amount of time and funding into developing high-quality maps for users to pre-plan their routes, and the different trails available have been rated so that hikers, bikers and others know ahead of time what difficulty level they are facing.
The Countryside Preserve is Amanda’s recommendation for beginning trail users. It has a detailed map and three separate loops. The frog loop is suitable for young children, and goes by a pond so that kids can search for frogs and easy-to-spot wildlife. Then there is the butterfly loop, which is a little longer and travels alongside a milk week meadow. Lastly, there is the bird loop which winds around the outside of the Preserve and takes trail users past a collection of bird houses.
“It’s a pretty contained site, so it’s really hard to get lost in there,” Amanda says. “It’s right inside the core of Uxbridge and is close to amenities. It’s an ideal spot to come for a visit because you step into the preserve and you feel like you’re in the forest. But you’re only a kilometre away at most from getting back to an exit where there is access to shopping, washrooms and food.”
In fact, Uxbridge’s businesses and shops want you to do more than just get outdoors. Because the trails are so close to amenities, you are invited to make a day of it. Hike, snowshoe or ski for part of the day, and then head into the town for some refreshments. This is why businesses like The Second Wedge Brewing Company are so involved in encouraging visitors to explore all that the town has to offer.
“We’re hoping to expose Uxbridge more to outside visitors,” says Joanne Richter, co-owner of The Second Wedge, whose seasonal best-seller is an IPA named after one of the local trails popular amongst cyclists: 3 Rocks. “It has some incredible natural features. People do know the trails, but right now they just use them and leave. So, we’re really hoping to create a buzz around the amazing trails we have, and linking that back into our downtown.”
There is something unparalleled about hiking on trails that simply cannot be replicated by walking around an outdoor track or a paved neighbourhood. Whatever the season, it is always magical to get out and experience nature. “It’s about breathing the clean air,” Amanda says. “You walk into the forest and you’re not hearing the cars. You can actually hear the birds. It’s just so amazing that you can be only fifty kilometres north-east of Toronto and have access to all these wonderful places. And Uxbridge is so beautiful. With our trails, you’re going to experience hiking as if you were in B.C.” For more information on Uxbridge’s wonderful trails, visit the Township of Uxbridge’s website at https://uxbridge.ca/canada_trail_capital
Story by Katherine Ryalen