In this often raucous and fast-moving world we live in, getting away from it all and surrounding yourself with the tranquil music of nature, embracing the isolation, refreshing the senses – there really is nothing like it.
Every summer, my family and I look forward to escaping to the remote cottage life where the only worries we have is how many mosquito bites we have or whether the lake is too cold to jump into.
Throughout the rest of the year, particularly in the warmer months, we typically enjoy going for hikes at our nearby trail close to sunset, giving us the opportunity to reconnect with not only each other, but the nature that surrounds us.
So okay, yes, I have noticed my daughter whip out her phone to create her own little TikTok’s or take photos, and I am guilty for whipping out my phone to check an email or social media notification now and then, but often than not, I mostly encourage my family to try and keep their phones out of their hands during our walks unless truly required. Telling your tween/teen (or even for us adults) to stay away from their phones for longer than an hour is no easy feat these days; but, engaging them in good conversation and reminding them to mindfully cradle their surroundings tends to steer their attention back to what truly matters in that moment. And that includes sure your mouth stays closed when walking past a swarm of crane flies.
When we really want a bit more of an adventurous, lengthy hike coupled with some exceptional views, we like to head out for a little road trip and explore a few beautiful and relaxing hiking trails outside of our own community.
There are some very important things to remember when prepping for a fun hiking excursion with the family.
- Pack lots of healthy snacks (because kids are always hungry) and water (in reusable water bottles!)
- Don’t forget your sunscreen and bug repellant
- Wear a hat and comfortable hiking shoes/runners
- Bring an extra pair of clothing for the kids
- Ensure your phones are fully charged! (Bring a great portable charger, just in case. We love the Mophie Wireless Chargers! Check out Telus’ awesome wireless charging products here.)
Staying Connected with a Peace of Mind
Although I like to encourage a screen-free hike with my family, ensuring we have a great connection on and offline is extremely important and offers peace of mind during these trips and thankful for our 4G LTE network with Telus, particularly in more remote locations during our hikes where it’s often impossible to get good service.
You just never know when you’ll need your phone connectivity in case of emergency calls, for guidance with google maps, or even for apps such as YELP – to help you find some great nearby shops and restaurants to explore!
Did you know: Telus is #1 for network quality and performance across all of Canada?
TELUS has won every major mobile network award for a second year running. Their mobile network is #1 in upload and download speeds, as well as network quality performance. Plus, their award-winning network has 99% of Ontario covered.
That is the network assurance I need for me and my entire family!
And speaking of bringing a peace of mind, Telus has recently just launched their new Peace of Mind™ plans that now offer endless data. That means never having to worry about going over the edge of your data limits again.
Plans start at $75 for 10GB of high-speed data – if customers exceed their high-speed data bucket, they can continue to stream, share and play as much as they want with speeds up to 512 kbps.
For more info visit Telus at: telus.com/peaceofmind.
If you haven’t been to any of these wonderful hiking gems yet, grab those awesome runners/hikers and bottled water and get back to nature. The great thing is that they are only less than hour away from Toronto and great for the entire family to enjoy!
Five Amazing Family-Friendly Hiking Trails Less than an Hour from Toronto
THE ESCARPMENT RAIL TRAIL TO ALBION FALLS
This 9km path that leads from downtown Hamilton up above Albion Falls was established in 1993 on an old CN rail line. It is also part of the Trans Canada trail network. The main route is paved and on a gradual slope, which makes it perfect for families on foot and with bikes. Visitors are asked to stay on marked paths and avoid entering prohibited areas.
From here, you can also get onto the Bruce Trail which follows the edge of the Niagara Escarpment, one of the thirteen UNESCO World Biosphere Reserves in Canada.
Map to parking lot (you can get on the trail at Corktown Park)
Parking: Corktown Park at Ferguson Ave / Young St
A leisurely hike around the Albion Falls area (about 6km) is a great way to take in the views. Park at Buttermilk Falls in the Oak-Knoll parking lot, which is on Mountain Brow Blvd north of Limeridge Road E. Take the Mountain Brow Side Trail towards Albion Falls where you can view the falls from a couple of lookouts. Walk along the road to Albion Falls.
WEBSTER FALLS AND TEW’S FALLS, DUNDAS
This is one of my favourites and probably THE hiking hotspot in Hamilton! For this reason, you may want to come during the week so it’s less congested.
Start by parking at Christie Lake Conservation Area (great place to have a picnic and go for a swim at the beach with the kids after the hike!).
From Christie Lake to Webster Falls, follow signs that indicate the Spencer Adventure route. During this 40 minute walk from the Christie Lake dam, you can learn about the area’s industrial past as part of Upper Canada and the fascinating ecology of the Spencer Gorge.
Things to Note:
- There is no direct trail access connecting Webster Falls to Tew Falls, but you can hop back on the shuttle to visit Tew Falls (on summer weekends and public holidays). On weekdays, you can drive between the Webster and Tew Falls parking lots as your parking pass is valid for the day at both locations.
- It is possible to walk along the road but important to note there are no sidewalks on this narrow route. Head up Short Road and turn right on Harvest Road where you can hook up with the Tew Falls parking lot and trail to see Tew Falls. (around 20 minutes).
- Continue on to Dundas Peak for stunning views of the valley – especially in the fall.
- There are also a couple of Bruce Trail side trails to explore.
Please visit Hamilton Conservation Authority for more parking and shuttle details.
On weekdays, during peak season, limited parking is available near Webster Falls at the parking lot off Fallsview Road via Short Road and limited parking available near Tew Falls at the parking lot on Harvest Road.
CRAWFORD LAKE TRAIL
Located in Miltion, this section of the Bruce Trail has a reconstructed Aboriginal village that will ignite your kids’ imaginations.
Start your walk at the interpretive centre and take the stroller-accessible, 1.4 kilometre elevated boardwalk around the geologically rare Crawford Lake, pausing to get close-up looks at water critters and vegetation and read the information panels. You can add on the 1.5-kilometre Woodland Trail (although it’s not stroller-friendly) and then loop back to explore the 15th-century Iroquoian village and three longhouses.
HILTON FALLS TRAIL
There are three hiking trails of various lengths to suit families with hikers of all ages at Hilton Falls Park. The most popular trail is the four-kilometre Hilton Falls Trail. The waterfall attraction is a gorgeous hiking reward and snacking pit stop.
Pack binoculars to spot abundant bird and animal life like salamanders along the way.
ROCKWOOD CONSERVATION HIKING TRAILS
Another favourite of mine and my children!
Towering limestone cliffs, caves and glacial potholes, including one of the world’s largest, are just a few of the natural wonders at Rockwood. You can view them from hiking trails on both sides of the Eramosa River which take you around the reservoir, along the tops of cliffs, across boardwalks through wetlands and beside the big glacial potholes. Please do be careful around the cliffs and steep slopes, especially with little children.
Overall, we love the trails here as they’re easy to walk, offering many shaded spots during hotter days and scattered picnic tables to stop and have a bite while taking in some nature therapy. If you do climb up one of the cliffs, you’ll get a gorgeous view of the river and its surrounding beauty.
We park right in the parking lot where the ruins of the Harris & Co. Rockwood Woolen Mill is located — another stunning and fun spot to explore for the kids!