Getting in touch with nature on Cambridge’s trails
Winter walking on local trails can be one of the best things you can do to lift your mood, and it can offer great health benefits, particularly during COVID-19
There’s much to experience when walking on a local trail in winter.
But finding the energy to get outdoors for a walk during the winter months may be hard. However, it could be one of the best things you can do to lift your mood, and it can offer great health benefits, particularly during COVID-19.
“Cambridge is absolutely filled with wonderful walks and trails in every part of the city,” says Ingrid Talpak.
“I’ve lived here for over 30 years and I have spent the majority of my life in Cambridge. I’m the city’s biggest fan.”
Four months ago, Talpak launched a YouTube Channel, Amazing Cambridge Ontario, where she regularly showcases ‘all things Cambridge.’
“I’ve often heard from people who say, ‘I didn’t know that was here’ and they’ve lived in Cambridge for years. That’s why I started this channel. I want people to be able to learn something new about Cambridge,” Talpak says.
Every week, she highlights city fairs, festivals, shops, food, services, and just recently, ‘Where to Walk in Winter in Cambridge.’
The City of Cambridge has more than 50 km of natural and urban trails where people can get some much-needed outdoor time, with a number of paths that follow the banks of the Speed and Grand Rivers.
Talpak has three favorite trails for winter walking and says that each one ‘just shines’ during the winter season.
“For me, this is a great way to get outside, refresh and reboot,” Talpak says.
“Like the old saying goes, get outside for an hour a day. And if you are really stressed, go out for two.”
Talpak’s ‘go-to’ walks are on trails that she visits regularly.
“These trails are easy, they are flat, there’s great parking, and they are well-used and maintained,” Talpak says.
Talpak enjoys the Linear Trail in Preston, a 3.2 km straight trail.
“You can walk ‘out and back’ unless you want to make it a loop by leaving the trail at the end, and walking through the historical park,” she says.
The Linear Trail begins with a bit of a slope, so proper footwear is key.
“In winter, having grips on your boots is very important. None of the trails are salted or sanded so wearing grips is very important. And remember to dress for the weather. It’s always cooler by the water,” Talpak says.
“One of the glorious aspects of this walk is the number of birds you will see along the Grand River.”
The Linear Trail is a popular spot for photographers and birders.
“You will see ducks, but the majestic Trumpeter Swan can be seen here too. Their call really does sound like someone playing a trumpet,” Talpak says.
Since the Linear Trail is a ‘there and back’ trail, Talpak says you can easily decide how long you would like to walk, and then turn back.
Another entrance to the trail is located at Chopin Street and Hamilton Street.
“There is a side path that goes to the water’s edge but if you stay on the main path, it’s a while before you walk on the Speed River which joins the Grand River. This path is glorious in all seasons, but I truly enjoy seeing the swans in the winter,” Talpak says.
The Mill Run Trail is another favorite for Talpak.
This ‘there and back trail’ is a 5 km stone dust trail that runs along the Speed River from the Sheffield Street Parking lot.
“You will see the train bridge and people often ask, is it in use, and yes, it is. The trail follows the 1896 Galt, Preston, and Hespeler Electric Railway Line,” Talpak says.
“There are wooden bridges and boardwalks and some majestic and fascinating looking trees that look like they should be in a fairy tale.”
If you continue on, the trail enters onto Riverside Park, Talpak’s third favorite winter walk trail.
Riverside Park is Cambridge’s largest community park, but instead of taking main entrance into the park, Talpak suggests following Russ Street, to the parking lot at the end.
“In the summer, the boardwalk goes along the wetlands and river but in the winter, it is a beautiful frozen landscape that is a special delight,” Talpak says.
“As you walk along the trail, you will see ducks and geese in the water. This leads to a pedestrian bridge that offers great views on either side. The boardwalk in winter is magical.”
Talpak says an extra treat is leaving bird seed for chickadees who will often feed from your hand.
“The main treat here is seeing the number of birds and the different types.” Talpak says.
“The surrounding land is quiet and peaceful. I like to take my time walking through the boardwalk. Different areas of the boardwalk seem to attract different types of birds.”
If feeling energetic, Talpak says all three walks can be done in one day because they all connect to each other.
But Talpak says there are so many other local trails to explore.
“There is a smaller trail in the Clemens Mill Area, ‘Hilburn”. This is a regional trail, not a walk for beginners because it’s quite hilly, but extremely gorgeous as you walk along the Portuguese Swamp which is so magical,” Talpak says.
Talpak says the best way to enjoy a Canadian winter is to get out there and enjoy it.
“Walking these trails can offer a bit of a mini-vacation,” Talpak says.
“And if you’ve walked them many times, it can become a comfort.”
For more information about trail in Cambridge, visit here.
For more information about Talpak’s Youtube channel, Amazing Cambridge Ontario, visit here.