After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s no wonder most of us begin the New Year looking for ways to slow down and relax.
Summer has arrived, meaning we’ve all shed our winter layers to bask in the warm sun. The frigid days of winter can drag on in Waterloo Region, so enjoying the outdoors is a must once summer arrives! While there are plenty of options in the tri-city area, these six make for a great day enjoying nature.
Hespeler Mill Pond
The area where the Speed River widens to create Hespeler Mill Pond is a beautiful spot to enjoy the warmer months. What is a mill pond? It’s a body of water that’s used as a water-powered mill’s reservoir. Around this area, you’ll find about 5km of trails to explore and plenty of green spaces. It’s perfect for a nice stroll, bike ride or run. Bird watchers, this is also a prime location to capture our feathered friends on camera, along with a few other critters too!
rare Charitable Research Reserve
Larger than Central Park in New York, the rare Charitable Research Reserve consists of over 900 acres of protected land at the junction of the Grand and Speed Rivers. Here you’ll find over 24 different habitat types and plenty of beautiful trails. You can find cliffs and alvars, along with amazing views of the two rivers. What else makes this area so amazing? It honours and respects the Indigenous presence within the area, including the Onkwehón:we Peoples of Six Nations of the Grand River and the Anishinaabe Peoples of Mississauga of the New Credit. This area is one where the community (including local Indigenous Peoples) respect and live alongside nature while protecting the land for generations to come.
Homer Watson Park
Nestled behind the Waterloo Region Museum, Homer Watson Park follows the water as it snakes around the Grand River corridor. Admire the huge maple and birch trees are you tackle the trails, including a section of the Trans Canada Trail. If you’re an art or history buff, you might want to check out the Homer Watson House & Gallery as well!
Who says you can’t turn something ugly into something beautiful? What used to be a landfill is now a beautiful outdoor complex in Kitchener. Whether you’re an avid cyclist, looking to grab some air on your skateboard or have a great day out with the family at the splash pad, McLennan Park caters to all. My favourite part is at the top of the biking hill where you get a great view of the city!
Dog owners may know this one for its leash-free area, but there are some great trails that snake around Bechtel Park. While some parts have some decent hills, you can easily make your walk as easy or hard as you’d like. The trails often intersect, making it perfect for families out for a stroll, hikers looking to hit the trails and, of course, dog owners looking to give their pups some exercise.
Clair Lake Park
Many Waterloo university students may recognize this one (or if you’re like me, didn’t even know it existed until now… 4 years after I’ve graduated!) as it’s hidden off of Keats Way. Clair Lake Park is a great little area to go for a picnic, or if you’re looking for somewhere to relax while reading a book. You just might see some geese and their goslings early in the summer. A leisurely stroll along the gravel trail around the lake is sometimes just what the doctor ordered!
How many of these parks do you plan to visit this summer? Are there any you would add to this list? Reach out on social (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) to share your favourite places to get Back to Nature in Waterloo Region!