Urban hiking, canoeing and simple ways to enjoy the great outdoors

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Len Gillis shares a story of geese in Chutes and a tip for going out for coffee the Northern Ontario way

Take a hike eh. No, that’s not my impression of Bob and Doug Mackenzie. Although the popular Canadian entertainment duo were more fond of saying “Take off, huh.”

Take off or hike. Either way, it’s a great excuse to enjoy the great outdoors, especially in Northeastern Ontario.

One reason could be the existence of so many provincial parks and municipal parks, not to mention conservation areas.

One of the benefits of living in Northern Ontario is that there are plenty of green spaces to enjoy.

There are also plenty of online resources to explore and choose from for hiking and outdoor activity options.

I have fond memories of my visit to Falls Provincial Park, located near Massey, west of Sudbury. I was with the cubs and scouts of the first Val Caron scout group at the time, decades ago. We were on part of the Twin Bridges trail next to the Aux Sables River. At one point on the trail there is a lookout next to a spectacular set of falls and waterfalls.

As our scout group stood there enjoying the scene, we saw a large white van pull up nearby. About half a dozen German tourists came out and were more than delighted to see the river and waterfalls surrounded by tall pine trees swaying in the wind. They were laughing, talking and taking pictures as part of an organized group visit. It was beautiful to see.

Suddenly and without warning, there was a sound of horns coming from above. Looking up we saw a beautiful flight of Canada geese hovering just above the trees and above the waterfall. There could be 20 or 25 birds. Just enough to delight us. As we laughed and enjoyed the view, the tour group burst into applause. It was as if the geese had arrived just for them, just to put on a show. It’s a happy memory.

Not all hikes have to be an adventure. But you can make it interesting. You can try urban hiking. And yes, it really is a thing.

Maybe a good thing to do for getting out of the house is to set a goal or mission to accomplish by walking or hiking at a brisk pace.

For many years when I lived in Timmins, I spent summer mornings canoeing for coffee. There was a Tim Horton on Riverside Drive that I could visit after going up the Mattagami River from the Algonquin Blvd bridge.

It wasn’t far, but it was a few hours of outdoor exercise. I paddled up the river, reached the Timmies backdoor, got my canoe out of the water, went inside for a coffee, then back to the bridge, put the canoe back on the roof out of the jeep and off I went.

Sudbury is a city with an incredible number of cafes of all kinds. What better way to get out for a morning hike on a sunny day than to step out the front door and enjoy a brisk walk to your favorite café or bistro. There are a few places downtown, where I’ve seen customers sitting outside at a table enjoying the day with a refreshing drink. I admit that I still feel a little jealous.

So here is the challenge for you.

Call up Google Maps online for Greater Sudbury. To save you some effort, here is the link.

In the upper left corner, type these three search words as follows: café, café, bistro.

You’ll be amazed at how many choices you’ll have, and you’ll have places to go every weekend this summer. You can make the hike more interesting by bringing a camera and taking pictures of some of the most interesting older buildings along the way. I know that when I walk around my neighborhood I really like to stop and smell the flowers, especially in June and July.

There is a movement underway, no pun intended, to make it easier for Sudbury residents to travel for urban walking and hiking.

Len Gillis is a journalist at Sudbury.Com.

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