Enjoy the Weather on Guelph’s Great Trails!

Karen KesselDowntown Guelph, Special Events

RoyalCityParkEven though it’s taken until the month of June to string together a run of decent weather, there’s still plenty of it to come. If you’re looking to get out and make the most of it all, a hike along one of Guelph’s great outdoor trails would be a great place to start.

Guelph has over 1,000 hectares of city parks available to everyone, and with those come over 70 km of premier walking, hiking and cycling trails. Located throughout the city, maps are available here for you to start your next adventure.

The city features 3 sets of trails that exceed 10 kilometres in length: The Guelph Humane Society Trailhead, the Hanlon Park Conservation Area, and the University of Guelph’s Arboretum Trails. Each makes for it’s own unique experience, combining interaction with nature and wildlife with great exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

One of Guelph’s most storied and scenic trails is the Speed River Trail, which just turned 40 years old. Here’s a write-up on the celebration from this week’s Guelph Mercury. Hope to see you out and about this summer!

Hikers celebrate as Speed River Trail turns 40

C. Heralt, Guelph Mercury, June 2nd, 2013

GUELPH — Dozens of the region’s most committed hikers, some freshly mosquito-bitten and slightly muddied, joined together at Silvercreek Park Saturday evening to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Speed River Trail.

It’s a 13.5-kilometre path that takes hikers through the broad valleys of the Speed River toward Cambridge. It also reveals parts of the Guelph spillway, which was carved out of the earth from floods that followed the last ice age.

Bill Mungall, a former provincial parks planner who now serves as the president of the Guelph Hiking Trail Club, credits the continued dedication of volunteer “trail captains,” who keep fallen branches, grass and weeds from swallowing up the paths, and landowners along the route, who agree to host the trails on their property without receiving any compensation.

Mayors Karen Farbridge of Guelph and Dennis Lever of Puslinch were on hand to congratulate the group on their milestone.

“The main vision that works for me is that from Guelph, you can walk from here to the Grand River, or here to the Bruce Trail,” Mungall said. “That’s what inspired the original visionaries who started the club back in 1971.”

Bob Fanning was around back when the hiking club got rolling. He described how the club’s first priority was to build a link to the Bruce Trail, which runs from Tobermory, Ont. to Niagara Falls. It followed the bored-out path of a decommissioned electric train line that led past Acton, and became known as the Guelph Radial Line Trail.

Two years later, members of the club began clearing the path for the Speed River Trail, and negotiating agreements with landowners along the route. There are now 18 landowners who have agreed to host parts of the Speed River Trail.

He said that many hiking club members have been walking the trails for decades, but what they expect to do and see today is different than before. It is no longer strictly about hiking and naturalism.

As activities co-ordinator for the club back in the 1970s, Fanning said he would “try to organize one outing or activity per week.”

“Now if you look at the club’s website, there’s 250 activities going on per year.” Photography, endurance running and birdwatching have become more common uses for the trails in recent years.

Mungall said membership is on an upswing, growing to around 230 people this year. He said the growth is driven largely by seniors, and also by people of all ages who use the trails as an inexpensive means of exercise, “without having to do something under the scrutiny of 85 other people at the gym.”