A little take on the Olympics, Greenbelt style.
As the Olympics come to a close and the drama of competition moves onto the emotional returns home, I am thinking of my favourite winter sports. Hockey is up there, as are the ‘new’ acrobatic ski and snowboard events. The skill set required for the biathlon amazes me, while ski jumping always reminds me of "Eddie the Eagle".
With apologies to the talented athletes heading home from Sochi, here is my Top Ten Greenbelt Activities—for winter in particular, but for all seasons as well. In no particular order:
Photo credit: Scandinavian Spa.
Located near Collingwood, this outdoor spa has baths with various temperatures, a steam room, a sauna, quiet rooms, and massages available. It’s the sort of soothing treatment you need during a heavy winter or after exercising athletic prowess.
Photo credit: Windreach Farms.
When Sandy Mitchell acquired the WindReach property in 1979, he desired to work the land. As a younger man, he’d worked on a farming community for persons with Down’s syndrome; living with cerebral palsy himself, he realized he wanted to help people with disabilities experience farm life as well. In 1989, Windreach Farm opened its doors as a farm accessible to a diversity of abilities and ages. In any season, Windreach Farm is a perfect visit for all.
The Valley in Hamilton is an all-season treat. If you go now, you’ll find rock climbers going up the many frozen waterfalls—an activity called "ice climbing." Perhaps it's a worthwhile sport to suggest for future winter Olympics...
4. Rouge Park
About to become a National Park, the Rouge is a natural retreat in the City of Toronto. In fact, it's the largest urban natural park in North America. Once Rouge National Park gets going, expect lots of winter and summer activities. Imagine, a National Park you get to with a TTC token!
The Forest is proof of optimistic thinking and persistent effort. A dead-zone just 60 years ago, with massive clear-cuts dominating the landscape, the forest is now ecologically rich and the largest contiguous forest cover in southern Ontario.
Photo credit: Wikipedia.
Despite being the fourth largest lake wholly in the province, Lake Simcoe is a "hidden" treasure often overlooked because of the Great Lakes and those in Muskoka. Its south shore is a stunning walk in summer and winter.
Photo credit: Jeff's Home.
Close to Halton Hills, the Silver Creek Conservation Area offers 1,080 acres of babbling brooks, lush forests, and escarpment scenery. Its 120-metre boardwalk was built to lesson the impact of the trail on wildlife, ensuring safe viewing for animals and people.
8. Ball’s Falls
Managed by the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, Ball’s Falls is a unique geological feature of the Niagara Escarpment—the lower, main part of Ball’s Falls goes over Irondequoit limestone, a layer of resistant rock that overlies softer shale and sandstone. It’s a great combination of nature and1800s culture, and features an operating flour mill, a church, a family home, and more, all open for a visit.
9. Mt. Nemo
Recently a battleground on an aggregate expansion (that thankfully it didn’t go ahead), the Mountain is thing of beauty, whether seen from far away or on its hiking paths. It showcases some of the best cliff ecosystems, promising visitors glimpses of turkey vultures, countryside, and ancient cedars.
10. Bruce Peninsula
I call it "god's country" as its stunning combination of blue green waters, white limestone, and the ever-present green cedars leaves nothing else to wish for. Swimming near the Grotto in the Bruce Peninsula Park is a Greenbelt highlight few others match.