Sustainable summer staycations
As citizens of the great Forest City, we are lucky to live in an area with enough lush greenery to satisfy the inner tree-hugger in all of us. But do you ever crave more than that? Beyond the borders of our city lies beautiful, expansive trails that feature landscapes you thought you could only see on your Instagram feed.
To promote sustainability and tourism in Ontario for a student-budget price, consider taking a break from the busy hustle of the city life this summer. Just be sure to remember sunscreen, running shoes and good company.
Open May to October 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.Tours daily.
Eganville, Ont., provides a chance for Canadians to investigate the past of our land inside of “Ontario’s Natural Underground Wonder”, the historic geographic structure of the family-owned and operated Bonnechere Caves. The cave site has become so popular with visitors from across Ontario that longtime owners Chris and Val Hinsperger have organized annual events such as fossil hunts, underground concerts and dining experiences. Daily tours begin every 20 to 30 minutes for guests, rain or shine. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across a few bat colonies residing deep inside the caves. Be sure to explore outside the caves and pay a visit to the beautiful Fourth Chute Falls nearby. For more information, visit: bonnecherecaves.com
Murphy Point Provincial Park
Open May to October. Tour times vary.
Located along the Big Rideau Lake is Murphy’s Point Provincial Park, featuring both natural attractions and a historical land site. Silver Queen Mica Mine, an underground mine opened originally in 1979, is now open for exploration for visitors from across the province. The park is equipped with over 20 kilometres of hiking trails, ski trails in the winter season, caves and three beaches to choose from. You’ll need more than 24 hours to complete your time here, so why not spend the night at their campsite. The park offers their own tours, but encourages visitors to purchase a $1 map from their store and take the navigation challenge themselves. The park is registered as a non-profit charity and charges a $2 entrance fee to their park but are always accepting donations to improve and assist the local wildlife. For more information visit: friendsofmurphyspoint.ca.
Open year round. Tour times vary.
For both experienced and beginner hikers looking for practice, the Bruce Trail is a hotspot. At 900 kilometres and an additional 400 kilometres of side trails, it is the longest and oldest footpath in Canada. The trail begins in Niagara and ends in Tobermory. The entirety of the trail may be the longest walk of your life but taking a day trip here to walk a section of the trail is highly worth it. Toronto is the closest access point to the trail and provides scheduled hikes in the area of various difficulties and lengths. If you’re looking an extended trip, there are campsites available along the path to turn your day hike into a week. Enjoy the beautiful forest scenery and the occasional waterfall as you journey along the Niagara Escarpment. For more information visit: brucetrail.org.
Open Friday to Monday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adventure
Course open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tour times vary.
As one of Canada’s historic landscapes, Niagara Glen is one of Ontario’s best examples of preserved land from the original Carolinian Forest. The area offers activities such as kayaking, hiking and bouldering along the way to the main event of the park: the Niagara Whirlpool. On your stroll down one of the many 4 kilometres trails, be sure to keep track of the many different species of wildlife and natural structures, such as the mammoth pothole and Devil’s Arch. If you need to, you can stop at the Niagara Glen Nature Centre which is available for breaks in between your adventures. When you finally get to the whirlpool, an obstacle course that gets you zip lining across the Niagara River begins for $44.99 per person. For more information visit: niagraparks.com.