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hiking

What to Pack for a Day Hike in the Canadian Rockies

By Kaitlyn Forde

Step one: Find a trustworthy backpack to carry essentials.

Step one: Find a trustworthy backpack to carry essentials.

I came to Banff clad in Lululemon leggings, a blanket scarf, Sperries and no expectations. A recent university graduate, I planned to have one easygoing summer in the mountains before returning to my city-girl Toronto lifestyle. When I first arrived, I questioned the difference between a canoe and a kayak, didn’t understand the semantics of bear spray – let alone understood the possibility of seeing an actual bear – and had a pair of fashionable (not very functional) Nikes. Although athletic, I was the farthest thing from outdoorsy, and everyone let me know it.

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Banff’s Best Buys

Sep. 19, 2016
By Where writers

Treat yourself to stylish souvenirs or get ready for a day on the trails, with these best buys in Banff National Park.

Banff shopping, Banff gifts

Image by Helly Hanson

Fall Style

Want a practical and stylish outfit? Helly Hansen’s Latitude 92 sneakers are on-trend and durable for walking or biking. Billabong’s (at Cascade Shops) light, ruffled dresses pair with loose-fit sweaters for cool nights. Whimsical jewellery from Cabin 108 (108 Banff Ave) finishes the look. (more…)

29 Fun Autumn Activities

FALL IS UPON US, AND WITH IT COMES AN ABUNDANCE OF ACTIVITIES TO HERALD HARVEST SEASON. WHETHER IT’S PICKING APPLES, SEARCHING FOR THE PERFECT PUMPKIN, OR TAKING A HIKE TO ADMIRE THE FALL FOLIAGE, THERE’S PLENTY TO DO IN AND AROUND THE CITY.

Head to Whitamore’s Farm for some colourful pumpkins.

How Do You Like Them Apples?

1. Visit Dixie Orchards (14309 Dixie Rd., Caledon; 905-838-5888) for nearly two dozen varietals of apples, including ambrosia, Cortland, ginger golds, mutsu, Spartan, and tolman sweets.

2. Situated on 100 acres in the Oak Ridges Moraine, there are approximately 14,000 trees at Nature’s Bounty (651 Scugog Line 2, Port Perry; 905-985-2096) growing the likes of gala, honey crisp, elstar, and jonagold among the more than 20 types of apples. Don’t be surprised if you encounter some sheep; the owners have a flock that roam free.

3. Though the Niagara region is best known for its wines, the area’s unique ecosystem also allows for many different types of fruit to be grown here. Year round, Parkway Orchards (15000 Niagara Parkway, Niagara-on-the-Lake; 905-262-5097) has pick your own offerings including cherries, peaches, plums, and apricots, and in September and October, apples are in season.

Head for the Patches

4. Gourds of all shapes and sizes are available at Albion Orchards (14800 Innis Lake Rd., Caledon; 905-584-0354) come October, perfect for making pies or carving jack-o-lanterns. In September, visitors can pick apples starting with the farm’s famous Paula reds.

5. Dive deep into the field for a pumpkin at Stonehaven Farms (7388 Guelph Line, R.R. #3, Campbellville; 905-878-1870), or head to the Kids Zone for a straw bale or corn maze, and wagon ride tours.

6. Although pumpkins, squash and gourds in all shapes and sizes can be found at Howell Family Pumpkin Farm (2878 Holland Rd., Fonthill; 905-892-3918), the Niagara-area spot also has numerous activities like a scarecrow display, a corn maze, rides, shows, and two trails through their Carolinian forest.

Fun for Everyone

7. West of Toronto, be prepared for long line ups to get into Chudleigh’s. In addition to its apple orchards, the family-owned farm has tractor-drawn wagon rides and a huge hay maze. Don’t leave without trying their famous apple blossoms, which are baked from scratch.

8. North of the city, Whittamore’s Farm (8100 Steeles Ave. E., Markham; 905-294-8200) is a family favourite. Nestled next to the Rouge River Valley, the 220-acre farm boasts a corn maze, wagon rides through the Spooky Forest, a spider web climb, and the popular Pumpkinland—watch as Farmer Frank catapults the orange-hued squash during a weekend cannon show.

9. Located along the picturesque Niagara Escarpment, Springridge Farm (7256 Bell School Line, Milton; 905-878-4908) hosts its annual Harvest Festival from September 24 to October 30. Wagon rides to the corn trail, straw bale jumping, a spooky boo barn, and scenic views from the Escarpment lookout ensure there’s never a dull moment.

See Fall Foliage

10. There’s no better way to see the radiant fall foliage than being in the thick of it. Go tree top trekking at Bruce’s Mill Conservation (3297 Stouffville Rd., Stouffville; 905-887-5531), where Aerial Park has five courses comprised of zip lines, wooden bridges, Tarzan-style swings and more. Little ones can visit Treewalk Village, an enclosed space with a network of tunnels and a Treewee Walk obstacle course.

11. Similarly, Heart Lake Conservation Area (10818 Heart Lake Rd., Brampton; 416-661-6600) has an Aerial Game Park with eight courses, 75 games, and 10 zip lines, including an impressive one that is 1,000-foot-long that flies right over Heart Lake.

Be Selfie-ish: Incredible Photo Ops

12. The pedestrian and cyclist thoroughfare Humber River Arch Bridge (southwest of Lake Shore Boulevard and Park Lawn Road) is set against the beautiful backdrop of Lake Ontario. Located at the southern end of Lakeshore Boulevard West, this bridge connects to the Waterfront Trail.

13. High Park offers many photographic opportunities, whether it’s beside Grenadier Pond, in one of the beautiful gardens, amidst the oak trees, or even with the capybaras at the High Park Zoo.

14. Hop aboard a ferry to the Toronto Islands, where shutterbugs can have capture the cityscape, as well as beaches and nature, but the best view is of the skyline at sunset.

15. The beautiful perennials, roses, wildflowers, rhododendrons, rock gardens and arboretum at Edwards Gardens (755 Lawrence Ave. E.; 416-397-1340) provide a lush backdrop for seasonal photos. There’s also a greenhouse, wooden bridges, a waterwheel, fountains, and many walking trails to explore, too.

16. For industrial-looking images, try Evergreen Brick Works, a former quarry and brick manufacturing site. Restored buildings feature graffiti-style art and the adjacent parkland has a number of scenic ponds.

17. In addition to the fascinating exhibits about Islamic, Iranian and Muslim art inside the Aga Khan Museum, the grounds provide a visually-stunning backdrop, including the reflecting pool and the dramatic front façade designed with Brazilian granite.

18. Rouge Park offers a true change in scenery, with beaches, farms, nature trails and more for endless exploring.

19. Niagara has much more to offer beyond the magnificent falls. The Dufferin Islands (7400 Portage Rd., Niagara Falls; 905-354-1721) are a secluded area with a picturesque archipelago connected by bridges and footpaths.

20. The Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens has 40 hectares of meticulously-cared for gardens, including more than 2,400 roses. Pose among ponds and an arboretum chock full of ornamental trees and shrubs.

21. At the Scarborough Bluffs, follow about 15 kilometres of easy trail along the shores of Lake Ontario for a view of the eroding cliffs.

A Walk in the Woods

22. Get a panoramic view of the Niagara Escarpment at Mount Nemo Conservation Area (5317 Guelph Line, Burlington; 905-854-0262) in Burlington. Watch turkey vultures soar and, on a clear day, see as far as the CN Tower.

23. Soak up some history at Woodend Conservation Area (905-788-3135), which is thought to have been a vantage point for British and American armies during the war of 1812. Follow the trail as it descends and then ascends the escapement. Finish at historic buildings with structural elements that date back to the late 1700s.

24. The Humber Valley Heritage Trail begins at the headwaters of the Humber River outside of Caledon and follows the Humber River Valley south for 15 kilometres through wetlands, pine forests, and ancient Hemlock groves.

25. Extending for approximately 200 kilometres from the Niagara Escarpment to the Trent River, the Oak Ridges Moraine (905-833-6600) is an elevated area of land with a wealth of wildlife, geological features, and hiking trails. The Oak Ridges Trail Association offers guided hikes through various sections; see oakridgestrail.org for a schedule.

Chasing Waterfalls

26. The ominously named Devil’s Punch Bowl (1-800-665-445) is the third highest waterfall in Hamilton at 37 metres in height. The Stoney Creek section of the Bruce Trail or the Dofasco 2000 trail leads hikers to this unique water feature.

27. Along with many outdoor activities, the Elora Gorge (7400 Wellington County Rd. 21, Elora; 519-846-9742) has a scenic trail. Take a trek on a cedar-lined path ending with a waterfall that drops from 22-metre-high limestone cliffs.

28. You don’t have to be a hardcore hiker to snap a shot of DeCew Falls (2714 Decew Rd., St. Catharines), just a short walk from the parking lot. The two-step waterfall first plunges from a 20-metre drop, while the second is smaller (but still picturesque) eight-metre cascade.

Take the Scenic Road

29. With more than 890 kilometres of main trail (follow the white signs) and 400 kilometres of side trails (look for the blue signs), The Bruce Trail (905-529-6821) is Canada’s longest-marked hiking route. It follows the Niagara Escarpment from the Niagara Peninsula in Queenston, north to Tobermorey. While many nature lovers concentrate on specific regions or day treks, some more experienced hiking enthusiasts can take the footpath from end to end as it passes through St. Catharines, Hamilton, Burlington, Milton, Halton Hills, Walters Falls, Owen Sound, and Wiarton, among others.

—By Linda Luong Luck and Karen Stevens

 

 

Top Things to Do in the Bow Valley

Aug. 30, 2016
By Where writers

The Bow Valley has tons of things to do. From hiking trails with quaint tea houses to fishing, watersports and visiting cute husky puppies there’s something of everyone.

Bow Valley Things to Do

Photo credit: Paul Zizka

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Evolution of Mountain Clothing

June 19, 2016
By Naomi Witherick

Hiking, climbing and horseback riding in the Canadian Rockies in 1900 looked very different from today. Bulky apparel has evolved and become more practical. Here, we compare historic styles to modern adventure-savvy wear.

Ernst Feuz & Georgia Engelhard on Mt. Victoria, Banff National Park, 1931. Photo courtesy of the Glenbow Museum.

Ernst Feuz & Georgia Engelhard on Mt. Victoria, Banff National Park, 1931. Photo courtesy of the Glenbow Museum.

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Gift-List Must: Backpacking Beauty Products

Dec. 12, 2015
By Morgan Kwan

Editor’s note: We’re stoked that Morgan Kwan has joined Where Canadian Rockies as a guest blogger! This Calgarian not only has an entertaining and insightful outdoors blog, but now she and her friend Andrea have their own beauty product line. Read on to meet Morgan and get inspiration for your Christmas gift ideas!

BowHut-39

It’s not very often that you find 20 women of different backgrounds and experience levels marching up a mountain, laughing and encouraging each other to work through the fatigue. Experiences like this are at the core of Beauty In The Backcountry, my blog that strives to breakdown the intense outdoor sports stereotype and inspire people, especially women, to push themselves and give these activities a try.

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5 Must-See Jasper Sights

By Where Staff

Photo: Courtesy of Brewster Travel Canada

Photo: Courtesy of Brewster Travel Canada

Award-Winning Design

Peer down 280 m (920 ft) through a glass floor to the base of the Sunwapta Valley at the Glacier Skywalk. This interpretive attraction has won awards for its architecture, engineering and sustainable practices (like accommodating mountain goat use of the site); it won Where Canadian Rockies’ Best New Attraction for 2014. The platform is cantilevered (anchored at one end) and suspended in the air for a thrilling view of the peaks, glaciers and waterfalls.

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Best Hiking Gear for the Canadian Rockies

By Olivia Grecu

Weather can change drastically from trailhead to peak. We’ve found a few items to keep you comfy and safe:

Backpack

Hydration Pack: For quick access to refreshment, Blair Timmins at Edge Control Outdoor Store in Jasper recommends the Platypus Duthie AM 10 with a three-litre reservoir and many convenient pockets.

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5 Myths About Ticks, Plus Tick Safety Tips

By Karen Ung

It’s tick season, so those of us playing in the great outdoors need to be aware of where ticks hang out, and cover up and do tick checks after hiking. Remember, not all ticks carry Lyme disease, so there’s no need to panic if you find a tick attached to you. Be sure to remove it, though!

MythsAboutTicks

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Family Fun in Bow Valley Provincial Park

By Karen Ung

Bow Valley Provincial Park is the perfect family-friendly mountain destination. With panoramic views and scenic trails, there is fun for all ages. Whether you hike the interpretive trails and do some geocaching, go fishing, have a picnic, bike the Bow Valley bike path or paddle the Kananaskis River, you will have a great day.

Parents of young children will appreciate the short trails with minimal elevation gain, benches along the trails for snack breaks and washrooms at every parking lot.

Over two separate visits we explored five trails in the area and liked them all. Join us on a mini tour of Bow Valley Provincial Park!

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The Canadian Rockies’ Southern Jewel: Waterton Lakes National Park

By Afton Aikens & Olivia Grecu

From the Trans-Canada Hwy between Calgary and Canmore, drive south through rolling hills on Alberta’s Cowboy Trail (Hwy 22) to Waterton Lakes National Park.

While smaller than Banff and Jasper national parks, Waterton’s beauty is just as impressive. Explore the park with these locals’ suggestions:

RedRock

Scenic Drives

  • The Bison Paddock Loop Road is just inside the park boundary off Hwy 6. Watch for these majestic animals from a viewing platfom near the paddock.
  • At the Red Rock Parkway, prairie and mountain landscapes meet. See colourful rocks at Red Rock Canyon and take a shady forest walk to thundering Blakiston Falls.

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Canadian Ski Hills to Visit this Summer

By KAT TANCOCK

Mountain Coaster at Blue Mountain, Ontario (Photo: Marc Landry)

Just like Canada itself, our ski hills are equated with winter. But there’s so much more to explore at the country’s coolest ski spots in the sizzling summer months. Here are 10 places to visit while the weather’s warm.

Start the slideshow of summer ski hills in Canada »