The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Imagine taking a breathtaking walk along the Conestogo River, venturing into the deep pine forests at Laurel Creek Conservation Area or climbing the twisty hills at West-Side Trails. These are just a few of the many excellent hiking trails that the Kitchener-Waterloo area has to offer!
In autumn, these trails glow with tall trees, painted with vibrant colours of reds, greens, yellows and oranges. Sunlight drips through the cracks of the sky in the canopy of branches above, hugging you like a warm embrace on a crisp fall day. In winter, the trees hang with piles of snow and icicles. The water in the creeks, ponds and rivers is dark blue, spotted with patches of ice. The sun (if it chooses to partway from the grey clouds) is radiant, illuminating the snow with a magical shimmer.
Whether you’re a committed hiker, you love nature or you just need a break for the good ol’ mental health (especially during Ontario’s fifth lockdown––darn COVID-19!), exploring hiking trails is a great way to get outside, enjoy nature and get some fresh air!
Here is a list of five trails that will satisfy any craving for an outdoor adventure!
Hillside Park – 352 Marsland Drive, Waterloo
If you’re looking for a close-by trail, Hillside Park is about a five-minute drive or a 20-minute walk from Wilfrid Laurier University campus! It’s a quaint park with many side trails to venture down! The main trail starts from the parking lot next to the baseball diamonds. Two wooden bridges cross over a river and many small marshes. The bridges are the perfect place to safely and quietly watch for wildlife––especially the ducks!
Anndale Park – 532 Hallmark Drive, Waterloo
Somewhat more toward Kitchener and about a nine-minute drive from campus, Anndale Park is a beautiful place to enjoy flower patches in the spring and summer, a lush array of colourful trees in the fall and a frozen-over pond in the winter. The trails cross flat areas of the park, so it’s great if you’re trying to avoid the tedious journey of going uphill!
West-Side Trails – 594 Sundew Drive, Waterloo
Hidden in a recently developed neighbourhood, the West-Side Trails are part of Waterloo’s Geo-time trail––a 4.2 km trail that traces the city’s geological past over the past 1 million years with signs throughout the trail that explain the history. These trails are located a bit further, a 12-minute drive from campus. There are multiple starting points from the general parking lot, but most trails connect and will loop you back around. They’re also filled with bridges, rolling hills and stunning views of Waterloo’s rich geological history!
Laurel Conservation Area – 625 Westmound Road N, Waterloo
Ahh! A place with numerous functions! The Laurel Creek Conservation area not only has a campground, picnic tables, playgrounds and a lake but also a bunch of hiking trails! Located close to campus, the Conservation is a 10-minute drive from campus and costs $15.00 for all-day parking. Is it worth the fee? Yes! These trails can easily be an entire afternoon! They’re full of dense forests and lushness, easy to navigate and have many wooden bridges crossing creeks and rivers.
Health-Valley Trails – 35 Albert Street E, St. Jacobs
I saved the best one for last! This one is a little bit outside of Waterloo in St. Jacobs, about a 15-minute drive from campus, and it’s SO worth it! The trail is about 2.4 km long before it branches off into other trails that connect to the Grand River. The highlight of this trail is the Conestogo River. There are lots of benches and incredible lookout points on this trail––it’s very serene and picturesque.
Even if you’re not much of a hiker, trails such as Hillside Park and Anndale Park are great if you feel more interested in a delightful walk. However, any of these trials will do if you’re looking for a beautiful escape into nature!