Tips: Hiking groups and courses

Tips: Hiking groups and courses

Have you been looking for new ways to explore the outdoors? Have you thought about hiking? Hiking is a great way to get outside, get active, and experience the beauty of the Great Lakes.

So why aren’t you out on your next great adventure!? Maybe it’s because you don’t have a suitable partner to hike with. This is very common, and you are not alone! A lot of people are hesitant to try hiking because they simply don’t have a suitable hiking companion. Perhaps you haven’t hiked before and don’t have experienced partners to learn from. Perhaps you don’t have the equipment and know-how to tackle the backcountry trails. Perhaps you simply don’t know anyone willing to roll out of bed bright and early on the weekend.

Whatever your reason, not having the right hiking companion doesn’t have to keep you from exploring the Great Lakes. There are plenty of hiking clubs and courses to help get you started and accompany you on the trails.

Hike Ontario

This education-based organization focuses on safe hiking practices, teaching you how to hike sustainably and get the most out of your outdoor adventure. There is a wide variety of courses and trips for people of all different levels of experience. Prices vary per course, but generally start at CAD$85 per person.

Bruce Trail Conservancy

Welcome to the oldest and longest trail in Canada! Since the Bruce Trail is so extensive (over 890 km long), there are nine individual clubs that work within each section of the trail. Each club organizes group hikes along their section of the trail, including Niagara, Hamilton, Toronto, Caledon, Alliston, Blue Mountain, Meaford, Owen Sound, and Wiarton. There is an annual fee of CAD$50 fee to join the Conservancy, and as part of the Bruce Trail Conservancy, the Iroquoia Club offers several training programs. These courses start in the classroom, teaching new hikers the essentials for safe and enjoyable hiking. They will even take you to a local outdoor store where you can suit up and get all the right gear! You then finish off the lessons on the Bruce Trail, putting your newly acquired skills into practice.

Wilderness Adventurers of Ontario

This all-ages club is CAD$40 per year to join and brings together outdoor enthusiasts from across the province. There are occasional day trips, but most trips are more than one day and include overnight stays in cottages or tents. Members organize trips based on interests and everyone shares the costs of transportation and food. The organization often helps new members rent or borrow equipment.

Pine Ridge Hiking Club

This club is part of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association. They offer week-long getaways in rural Ontario and shorter hikes throughout the beautiful Northumberland area. The club also hosts several social events and boasts a strong community feel. There is a CAD$25 fee per family, but new members are invited to accompany the group on some trial hikes before signing up!

The Toronto Outdoor Club

This organization is free for any adult to join. Their events are mostly catered towards beginners, with some challenging trips for those with more advanced skills. Sign up and become a member to join an enthusiastic group of people who will accompany you on your hiking and outdoor adventures!

Outdoor Club of East York

This Toronto-based club has a fun, local flair. There are plenty of trips ranging in length from evenings to full days, or longer, and run throughout the year. Most hikes include stops for lunch along the trail, and many of their evening hikes include a pub stop afterward. Their CAD$30 fee is well-worth the price!

Ottawa Outdoor Club

The Ottawa Outdoor Club offers weekend and day-long outings throughout the year. They have events planned nearly every weekend year-round and travel throughout Ontario, Quebec, New York, and New England. They also offer evening walks that are free for everyone, and joining the club is only CAD$30. Don’t have a car? Don’t worry! The club offers carpooling so that everyone can get out and enjoy hiking.

Thunder Bay Hiking Association

Explore the Northern Great Lakes region with the Thunder Bay Hiking Association. This club explores Northwestern Ontario and Northern Minnesota by foot, with several hikes happening throughout the year. The trips bring together groups of like-minded people to go hiking and participate in other outdoor activities. There are both full- and half-day hikes on weekends for all skill levels, so you can choose a hiking excursion that suits your level of experience. There is a CAD$25 fee to sign up as an individual and a CAD$35 fee as a family.

There are plenty of hiking groups, meetups, and courses throughout the Great Lakes region. Whether you want to hike in areas close to home or experience the more “wild” side of the Lakes, there is something out there for everyone. Take a look for clubs and courses near you, and get ready to hit the trails!