Looking for a form of exercise that will help you relax, lose weight, lower your blood pressure, relieve aches and pains, clear your mind, and generally enjoy the great outdoors?
The Ottawa area offers a wide array of hiking possibilities, including the Rideau Trail, the Greenbelt and Gatineau Park, or simply exploring interesting communities in the region. Hiking is affordable for all, and offers tremendous physical and mental benefits.
If you’d like to start hiking seriously, consider joining a local hiking club. The Rideau Trail Association, for example, offers a wide range of hikes for adults (most members are over 50), from a leisurely walk in the woods or in-town to a vigorous tramp through challenging terrain. Outings are scheduled all year round on weekends as well as some weekdays and evenings.
“With an experienced leader, you’re not going to lose your way,” says Ottawa Rideau Trail Club president Denise Hall. “Plus, the on-trail company is pleasant, there’s help if needed, and you experience places you might never find on your own.”
To kick-start the hiking season, the Ottawa Club is holding an Introduction to Hiking course on Saturday, May 6 at the Nepean Sportsplex. This is a full-day session for new hikers and those interested in making their hiking experience safe and enjoyable. Topics include hike planning, preparation, packing, outfitting and on-trail procedures, plus an orientation to hiking with a guided group. The day will wrap up with a short hike. Space is limited, so register early. The cost is $85 (which includes a one-year RTA membership, value $25).
“If you’re a novice hiker, this course will give you know-how to choose equipment, avoid problems, and deal with situations that can arise on the trail,” says Ruth Oswald, one of the instructors.
The RTA, a completely volunteer organization, maintains a continuous trail between Ottawa and Kingston, which passes through Merrickville and Barrhaven. It offers hikes, from easy to challenging, on the Rideau Trail as well as in and around the Ottawa-Gatineau, Perth and Kingston regions. You can join, get more information, or register for the Introduction to Hiking, at www.rideautrail.org or by calling the Ottawa Club’s information line at 613- 860-2225.