Archive for the ‘Canada’ Category

Ontario Canada's Waterfront Trail

Ontario Canada’s Waterfront Trail

The Waterfront Regeneration Trust, a charity dedicated to the completion, maintenance and promotion of the Ontario Canada Waterfront Trail, today unveiled a 620 km expansion of the signed route across Lake Erie. The existing 780 km signed route that provides a marked path along the waterfront from the Quebec border to Niagara-on-the-Lake, will now run to Lakeshore Township just outside of Windsor.

The announcement was made at the Windsor trailhead of the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure, an annual seven day end-to-end fully supported cycling tour that attracts Ontario families and tourists from all over North America to explore Ontario’s Great Lakes waterfront.

The Adventure takes participants from end-to-end of the route’s Lake Erie portion, stopping in local communities to explore, shop and sightsee. Participants range from 13 to 74 years of age cycle an average of 60 to 100 km a day.

“We are celebrating the expansion by holding the Adventure for the first time on the Lake Erie portion of the Trail. We sold out two months in advance and have people participating from Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, California, Idaho, Maryland and Ohio,” said Marlaine Koehler, Executive Director of the Waterfront Regeneration Trust. “This week’s event is just a snap shot of the growing market for mass cycling and running events that are attracted to regions that have this kind of long-distance infrastructure. We are really excited for the potential of a Trail of this length.”

The Canadian Automobile Association is also doing their part to make it easier for people to explore Ontario’s waterfront. The Association is launching a new CAA Ontario Bike Assist app to help tourists and residents explore the Trail. It is currently available for Android users (coming soon to the iTunes store) and features routes and trails that have been deemed scenic and approved as safe to travel by CAA’s own Mapping and Research Specialists.

This is welcome news for James Burque, a cyclist from California, who has the goal of cycling all the Great Lakes. He represents the growing group of tourists who are exploring the continent on two wheels, presenting a huge economic development opportunity for communities situated on a path like the Waterfront Trail.

“Having a signed route that helps cyclists and tourists stay on course is an attractive draw for those of us who wish to explore Ontario’s countryside,” said Burque. “I hope that the Trail continues to expand across the Great Lakes so that I can keep coming back to achieve my goal and explore new parts of the province.”

The Trail isn’t just a draw for cycling enthusiasts, also participating in the Adventure are families. Honourary Tour Director and Essex Town Councillor John Scott, will ride the 620 km route on a tandem bike with his son and sees a huge potential for families to take advantage of the Trail for holiday excursions.

“Not only am I excited about the immense potential that the expansion of this Trail brings to Essex and other South Western Ontario waterfront communities,” said Scott. “I am really looking forward to exploring this beautiful landscape with my son to show him first-hand the wonderful natural assets in our backyard. This Trail is something that everyone can enjoy.”

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By George Bailey, Niagara Falls Review, link to original post

Bruce Trail hiking narrative available at www.footprintpress.com

Bruce Trail hiking narrative available at http://www.footprintpress.com

As a travel writer, once in a while I get invited to attend various travel-related events. When an invitation was extended to me to take part in one of the soon-to-be-introduced Bruce Trail Waterfall Walks (August 2013), I thought it would be just like any other hike. Boy, was I wrong. Yes, it was a hike, but much more.

Maria Fortunato, executive director of the Hamilton Halton Brant Regional Tourism Association (www.theheartofontario.com), explained, “This walk has been a year in the making. It’s a type of packaged walking tour that’s never been done in Ontario. It’s most unique”. There are two tours offered, all-inclusive two-day and five-day waterfall walking holidays that wind along the Bruce Trail atop the Niagara Escarpment in the Hamilton-Halton area. Groups consist of anywhere from 12 to 20.Participants stay over night in top-notch hotels with scrumptious meals. No beans and wieners here.

1297441800177_ORIGINALI decided to put on my best walking shoes and try out this new adventure.

From the moment I stepped onto the trail on the rocky collar of the Niagara Escarpment (a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve) near the edge of Hamilton, I knew it was going to be interesting. What was unique about this hike was that I observed my surroundings in a different way. It was because I was accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, Beth (Kummling) Gilhespy, executive director of the Bruce Trail Conservancy (www.brucetrail.org or 1-800-665-4453). She was a walking encyclopedia about the geology along the trail.

The morning walk took us through a Carolinian forest, past numerous waterfalls (there are 28 waterfalls along the Niagara Escarpment) and scenic lookouts that left me in awe. Things you might see along the trail are paw paw, flowering dogwood and sweet chestnut. If you’re lucky (I wasn’t), you might get a glimpse of a southern flying squirrel or wooded warbler. This hike would be perfect for birders to add more names to their list of birds they’ve spotted.

1297441800207_ORIGINALAfter a full morning of walking 10 kilometres, we took a lunch break at the Ancaster Mill Restaurant. This landmark Ancaster dining establishment is a beautifully restored 19th-century grist mill. The nature theme continued with our Earth to Table cuisine. We lingered after lunch to absorb the lovely waterfall outside our dining room table.

After another afternoon of hiking (we were all wiped, but with that type of tiredness that you feel good about), we were shuttled to the Best Western Luxury C Hotel on Stone Church Rd. above the escarpment, which was home for the night. Home was never like this. After a real good shower, I rested for a few hours and then headed downstairs for another delicious meal, where we reminisced about our day of adventure. Sleep that night was easy.

I have to make a confession at this point. Due to other plans I had that day, I didn’t continue the hike. A few days later I spoke with a few of my fellow hikers who said they were now hooked on hiking and plan to do it again.

About the Bruce Trail

The Bruce Trail starts (or ends, depending on where you are) at Queenston Heights and winds its way along the Niagara Escarpment through the Niagara region before heading towards the Bruce Peninsula at Tobermory. It is Canada’s oldest and longest footpath, over 880 km beginning to end.

The Bruce Trail is funded almost entirely by individuals, organizations, foundations and corporations. Less than 1% is contributed by any level of government. Isn’t that refreshing?

Costs for the Bruce Trail Waterfall Walks

Keep in mind this tour includes a highly knowledgeable trail guide, accommodations in first-rate hotels, breakfast, lunch and dinner each day and ground transportation between your hotels and restaurants. Also included are a one-year Bruce Trail Conservancy membership and an official Bruce Trail guidebook.

A two-day hike of 25 km where you view 19 waterfalls is $588 (+tax) per person, double occupancy. Single occupancy is $794.

A five-day hike of 45 km where you view 28 waterfalls is $1,198 (+ tax) per person, double occupancy. Single occupancy is $1,499.

www.grand-experiences.com/bruce-trail or 1-888-258-0441

To read about an adventure thru-hiking the entire Bruce Trail pick up a copy of Bruce Trail – An Adventure Along the Niagara Escarpment.

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Take A Hike - Rochester 3rd edition

Take A Hike – Rochester 3rd edition

Spring is coming – eventually. Be prepared when that warm, sunny day arrives by purchasing guidebooks now so you can hit the trail and enjoy the burst of spring. The latest (3rd) edition of Take A Hike – Family Walks in the Rochester NY Area” is ON SALE for only $16.95 (retail $19.95).

Also ON SALE for $12:
Bruce Trail – An Adventure Along the Niagara Escarpment
Take Your Bike – Family Rides in the Finger Lakes & Genesee Valley Region.

Take Your Bike - Genesee Valley

Take Your Bike – Genesee Valley

Stock up – no matter how many guidebooks you purchase at www.footprintpress.com, the shipping for the entire order is only $3.50.  We have guidebooks for hiking, biking, paddling, exploring waterfalls, and more – lots of fun spring adventures to enjoy across New York State.

Bruce Trail hiking narrative

Bruce Trail hiking narrative


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Gov. Cuomo called for an “energy highway” between Montreal and NYC/downstate in his address last week. Now the Regional Plan Association has called for expanding the idea to include higher speed rail and broadband service in a multi-use corridor (see http://www.rpa.org/2012/01/an-energy-rail-broadband-expressway-to-quebec.html). Good idea.

Now we should propose including a multi-use trail/bike path in the corridor, also. Pieces of such a trail already exist, the cost would be small compared to the other elements, and, given the popularity of bicycle tourism, the economic benefits could be large. For information on bicycle tourism, refer to Parks & Trails New York’s Bicyclists Bring Business at http://www.ptny.org/pdfs/canalway_trail/b3/Bicyclists_bring_business.pdf.

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This clip is great for animal lovers and young children — Momma Bear and her three very young cubs in the wild of northern Ontario , Canada. Humane wildlife experts taking a winter bear census right in the hibernation dens. You’ll love this, besides the cute precious 6 week old baby bears (eyes still closed) the guy (Rick Mercer) has some of the funniest lines. Click here for a special video of retagging a mommy bear.

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by Neil McKay, Toronto Star, link to original post

Checking out the fall foliage is a great way to spend the weekend, but if sitting in a car and staring out the window leaves you pining for a little more action, here’s an alternative.

Holiday Valley, a ski resort popular with Canadians an hour south of Buffalo, has recently completed a couple of adventure attractions that has turned leaf peeping into a contact sport.

The Sky High Adventure Park features eight enormous tree-top courses of varying difficulty — yellow, green, blue and, if you dare, two double blacks that soar to 60 feet, Black Storm and (gulp) Commando — where visitors navigate an assortment of wildly unstable rope bridges, obstacles and zip lines.

“You’ll be able to recognize the zip lines,” said our kindly instructor, “because there won’t be anything to put your foot on.” A point worth remembering when you’re standing on a small platform high in a tree. From this vantage point, nature’s annual show is not only in colour but also hi-def.

Participants ($42 for three hours) wear harnesses with a special locking lanyard that prevents a fall of more than a couple of feet. Tethered to a cable or not, it takes a certain leap of faith to step off a platform onto a free-swinging block of wood with only a piece of rope to hang onto.

Strategy, more than strength, is the key to completing the aerial park courses, which is why a couple of beefy twentysomethings, who’d been pretty boisterous during the orientation talk, needed to be rescued by staff from a double black. A couple of young women in their group who’d completed a blue course really enjoyed that.

Sky High will remain open on weekends through the resort’s Fall Festival Oct. 7-10.

In August, the resort’s Mountain Coaster began operation. The ride is similar to a roller coaster with two-man cars on rails that first travel up the ski hill before turning around and zooming down a 760-metre course through the woods. Riders can control their speed using handles on the sides of the cars.

The Mountain Coaster ($6) also operates on weekends through Oct. 10 and will run during the ski season.

Holiday Valley includes a well-maintained 18-hole golf course, Double Black Diamond ($22-59), that offers some spectacular views of the resort’s tree-covered hillsides from an array of elevated tees.

Mountain bike and hiking trails that weave through the ski area are another fine way to experience the autumn show. And unlike some of the more popular colour destinations in New England, you’re likely to encounter more deer than fellow hikers on the trails of Holiday Valley.

Roasting S’mores by the fire pit next to the swimming pools is a wonderful way to finish the day for kids of all ages. The John Harvard Brew House is only steps away, just in case you need something to wash down the graham crackers.


WHEN TO GO The best time for colours in Ellicottville are the first two weeks of October.

ARRIVING Cross border at Peace Bridge and take 190 South to Interstate 90 West. Take Exit 55 to Rt. 219 South for 80 kilometres to Ellicottville, 247 kilometres from Toronto. Estimated fuel cost for mid-size car: $50.

SLEEPING Holiday Valley offers a number of packages that incorporate golf, pampering at the serene Falling Waters Spa, the Sky High Adventure Park and the Mountain Coaster. Accommodation ranges from the four-star Tamarack Club condo/hotel with spa and heated pool to the Inn at Holiday Valley to a wide range of comfortable family-style condos within the resort or in the village of Ellicottville. In town, the spotless Kelly House Lodge ($70) is hard to beat for families on a budget. The favourable exchange rate is a bonus for Canucks.

DINING AND DRINKING The John Harvard Brew House offers a nice range of craft beers and good pub grub. In town, the Gin Mill on Washington St. is the liveliest spot, with loads of atmosphere and terrific burgers.

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By WKBW News, link to original post

The Peace Bridge connects the US & Canada

The Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority (Peace Bridge Authority) once again reminds local residents of the “Bike to the Bridge” campaign, which encourages non-vehicular border crossings and seeks to educate bicyclists and pedestrians on proper crossing procedures at the Peace Bridge facility. Such efforts include a combination of improved public outreach and information distribution, as well as continued promotion of current Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) document identification requirements.

“Every day at the Peace Bridge we welcome numerous bicyclists and pedestrians,” said Authority Chairman Anthony Annunziata. “And by educating additional area residents regarding border crossing identification requirements and procedures, we hope to encourage many more travelers to go green and experience the truly breathtaking views available to them of Lake Erie, the Niagara River, and the City of Buffalo skyline.”

A suite of promotional materials supporting the “Bike to the Bridge” campaign are available at www.peacebridge.com/biketothebridge. Such items include an instructional video on “how to cross” the bridge by bicycle, downloadable maps and pamphlets with travel routes, a complete listing of necessary identification requirements, as well as reference links for respective Canadian and American Customs agencies. Walk the bridge information can be found here.

The Authority’s commitment to engaging and educating the Southern Ontario and Western New York bicycling communities through the “Bike to the Bridge” effort was selected this past year by The League of American Bicyclists to receive an official support citation.
According to Bike League Director of Communications Meghan Cahill, “this Peace Bridge event is a great image for our cooperative vision and work to create more bicycle-friendly countries – a North America that recognizes the benefits of bicycling for the environment, personal health, and improving quality of life.”

For more information on the Peace Bridge Authority, visit www.peacebridge.com.

The Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority, a binational authority, has owned and operated the Peace Bridge since 1933. The bridge, which was opened to traffic in 1927, spans the Niagara River between Fort Erie, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York, and is a key international border crossing. The Authority is governed by a 10 member board with an equal number of representatives from Canada and the United States. As an international compact and in accordance with its enabling legislation, the chairmanship alternates annually between Canada and the United States.

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Canadian Fort Erie Friendship Trail a Boon for Western NY Bikers

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Reported by Paul Legall, Open File, link to original post

The leggy hiker on the book cover looked like she had been airlifted from a chic Yorkville women’s shop and plunked down in the middle of the Bruce Trail where she was photographed climbing over a wire fence. Decked out in a mini skirt, pumps, designer shades and a wide-brimmed hat that obscured part of her face, the woman in the image produced an enigmatic effect similar to the Mona Lisa.

It wasn’t the kind of getup you’d normally encounter on the Niagara Escarpment trails, where hikers often have to fend off rattlesnakes and other wildlife, scramble over boulders and fallen trees, and deal with extreme weather conditions while camping under the stars. The only hints that she might be a serious trekker were the hiking boots slung over her shoulder and the walking stick she was clutching in her daintily-gloved left hand.

Hamilton author Andy Camani, who set up the shot, wanted an edgy picture that would stop readers in their tracks and compel them to pick up his new book and read the blurb to find out what it was about.

Called “One Hundred Hikers, One hundred Hikes, From Tobermory to Kilimanjaro,” the book consists of personal stories he solicited from contacts in the hiking community.

Camani wanted people to describe their most memorable hikes in less than 1,000 words. What he got was an eclectic collection of personal anecdotes; stories came from amateur writers of all ages who described encounters with rattlesnakes on the Bruce Trails, muskox in the Arctic and a suspected Sasquatch in Algonquin Park that turned out to be a barefooted hiker with huge feet.  (For a full tale of hiking the Bruce Trail try “Bruce Trail – An Adventure Along the Niagara Escarpment.”)

Camani, 60, who spent $20,000 of his own money on the project, offered to donate the proceeds to the Bruce Trail Conservancy.

But when he showed the august Conservancy directors his proposed cover, they winced in horror and held a special meeting to decide whether they could endorse the project. “They said it was ‘racy’ and might offend women; they wanted the usual picture of a pair of hiking boots draped over a log ,” Camani told OpenFile. “I told them I wanted racy … I told them 80 per cent of books are sold by the cover.”

The directors decided to endorse the book – and accept the money – after a Toronto ad firm decided his cover wasn’t sexist or too racy for the hiking community. “They put my cover and a picture of the hiking boots on [a] log on the wall and had the office staff, both women and men, vote on it. Mine won nine to one,” Camani said.

So, who was that enigmatic model under the wide hat?  Her name is Dr. Shirley Caspin, a Toronto general practitioner who is also a serious hiker. A good sport, she agreed to pose for the photograph as a lark and as a favour to the author.

She also agreed to write a story for the book. Caspin’s tale involves a trip to California as a naive teenager, when was she was suddenly slam-dunked into a bizarre world of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Caspin had been dispatched from Montreal as a family emissary to visit an uncle who’d absconded to the west coast after a nasty divorce. The uncle had an intimidating new wife who took an immediate shine to the timid teenager and insisted on applying sun tan lotion on her body any time the sun blinked over the horizon. “To her credit, I never developed sunburn,” Caspin recalled.

Caspin says she decided the Los Angeles scene was a bit too weird for her, and to escape the craziness, she joined a pot-smoking Harvard professor and group of European hikers for an overnight camping trip in Yosemite National Park. They ended up on top of a mountain called the Half Dome where the professor convinced her to try pot for the first time and persuaded her to zip their sleeping bags together for warmth. When she woke up the next morning, she was shocked to see his hairy arm sticking out of the sleeping bag. “Dear God, please keep him asleep … I promise never to smoke that shit again,” she prayed.

But when Caspin looks back on the experience today, she feels a wistful nostalgia. “During the ensuing years, the great outdoors would prove a comforting and reliable antidote for life’[s] stresses,” she wrote. “On this summer night in July, 1972, I felt blessed and certain that all was right with the universe.”

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Kayaking St. Lawrence Islands National Park

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