A Local Real Estate Agent's Guide To Fall Waterloo Region Outdoor Fun
There are a lot of advantages to working with a local real estate agent, whether you are buying or selling a home, and that is as true in the Waterloo Region as it is anywhere else. We have written about many of them before, but it's always well worth repeating.
In addition to our great knowledge of the local real estate markets in real time - markets, KW included - are changing fast and both buyers and sellers need to know just what's going on RIGHT NOW in order to set the best asking price or make the right offer. And it's local real estate agents like Team Pinto (that's us) who are best placed to provide tat information.
But the benefits of working with a local real estate agent go beyond that, especially for those who will be new to our region, and are trying to determine if the area as a whole will be right for them. This is information that, as people who do live, work and raise families here, we are also especially able to provide.
One of the great advantages of living in the Waterloo Region over say, a larger city like Toronto (which is still not too far away) are the many outdoor recreational opportunities available. And as the summer turns into fall, lots of people love the idea of getting out and enjoying those spaces before the big snows hit.
Not sure where to do, or why you should? Today we are taking a look at some of our favourite outdoor spaces - and pursuits - that should appeal to any new resident - or potential new resident - of the Waterloo Region who likes to get outside. Some even long time residents may not know about!
Get Out and Hike! Huron Natural Area Hikes
No matter the season, hiking is a great way to explore the Waterloo Region, especially if you are a new resident or just considering moving here. And it's fair to say that some of the best hiking trails are 'hidden in plain sight' in the Huron Natural Area.
In the Huron Natural Area, there are several connecting hiking trails. You may take a few hours to hike them all or embark on a shorter hike to complete one or two of them. It is the best place to go hiking with the entire family in Kitchener. These Kitchener hiking trails are perfect for inexperienced hikers, though there are a couple of sections with gradual hills.
It's very easy to navigate the Huron Natural Area, and we doubt that you'll get lost on your journey. Although there are not many trail markers on the trees, there are sign posts and maps on the way for navigation. These will show you precisely where you are standing and the trails' directions.
Hiking in the Huron Natural Area
In the Huron Natural Area, there are six separate hiking trails of varying lengths. These are some of Kitchener's best hiking trails as you wander through woodland, up and down a couple of small hills, and around a picturesque pond. They all circle back around to the main parking lot on Trillium Drive for the most part. When the hiking trails form a loop or multiple loops, we love it because every view is different and you don't have to backtrack.
The Huron Trail is a loop trail of 1.3 km and on the map you can see it highlighted in red. This is where the main parking lot is and where you'll likely to start from. The trail's paved sections are wheelchair accessible. You can hike to the left along the Huron Trail and hook up with the Meadow Trail.
This trail is a largely open space bordered by meadows. To support the bird populations in this beautiful natural location, there are some bird houses and boxes and if you bring your binoculars you should be able to spot some truly beautiful avians.
The Meadow Trail is marked in yellow on the trail map, and it’s a shorter loop at 0.6km. It connects a number of the different trails in the park to one another, including the Woodland Trail and the Strasburg Creek Trail. However, along the way you'll see plenty of fauna and flora and it's a great choice for a more leisurely stroll.
The 0.8 km loop outlined in purple on the map is the Woodland Trail. You can enter the forest here and walk along a dirt path surrounded by tall trees. This is defined by the park as a slightly rough terrain of younger mixed woodland. While this trail goes through the woods, it is certainly not difficult and suitable for most hikers.
Strasburg Creek Trail
The Woodland Trail leads back to the Meadow Trail, and then you can connect to the Strasburg Creek Trail. This trail is 2km in length, marked in dark blue on the map, and it’s the only trail in the park that does not proceed as a loop trail.
The Strasburg Creek Trail connects the Huron Natural Area to its surrounding neighbourhoods on the southern end of the park. If you live within walking distance of these Kitchener hiking trails, you can choose to access the park on foot from the Strasburg Creek Trail.
The most notable feature along the Forest Trail is the Board of Education Pond. This is a gorgeous and very reflective small lake in the middle of the park. There’s a boardwalk on the southern edge of the pond and tons of scenic views. This hike is a joy not only for fitness fanatics but also for serious Instagrammers and even professional photographers.
The Forest Trail is 1km in length and forms a loop. You can either loop back on the Forest Trail to the pond or continue hiking on one of the connecting trails.
This trail can be a little harder to find if you are not walking with your map - or a GPS app - but it's well worth looking for. The Plantation Trail loops through sections of forest that were planted in the late 1950s as a way of regenerating the area after it was nothing but farmland for many years.
Getting to the Huron Natural Area Trails
An industrial park on Trillium Drive faces the main Huron Natural Area parking lot. There's plenty of space in the parking lot to park your vehicle.
If you see a lot of cars, don't worry. The natural space is vast enough once we reach the trails that it will not feel crowded. You will be able to find toilets, a picnic area and benches near the main entrance. The main entrance address is 801 Trillium Drive, Kitchener. Many local residents also access the trails on foot from various points within their neighbourhoods.
Huron Natural Area Indigenous Art
Huron Natural Area has historical connections to Indigenous peoples. At the south end of Huron Natural Area and along the Strasburg Creek, archaeologists uncovered an aboriginal village with 10 longhouses and many other artefacts. The village is about 500 years old, and some of the artefacts are over 9000 years old.
The entrance to the Huron Natural Area has stunning murals that are sure to catch your eye. These works of art were painted by the local Indigenous artists, Luke Swinson, August Swinson and Tsista Kennedy.
The three beautiful murals highlight the ways in which we are connected to the land. Not only are these works of art very vibrant and symbolic, they were built by the City of Kitchener as a way of welcoming Indigenous communities to the area.
Get Out and Ride! Tackling the Waterloo Region Hydrocut Bike Trail
There are tons of great walking, hiking and running trails in our Region, but if you are a cyclist/mountain biker new to Waterloo then you will be excited to learn that the area is home to some of the best biking trails in Ontario, a part of a trail system known as the Hydrocut.
The Hydrocut trail system is consistently ranked as one of the top mountain bike destinations in Ontario and is recognized across Canada for its 35km of continuous singletrack that hosts over 40,000 visitors per year. The Hydrocut name comes from the fact that the main trails were developed under a series of hydro power line towers that today connect the two main sections of the trails system: The Landfill or Glasgow side, and the Pines or Snyder’s Road side.
The biking trails are open and free for the public to make use of. The biking trails, which vary in terrain and difficulty so that there is something for everyone, feature boardwalks and bridges, switchbacks and “armoured” walls, with fast lines and other technical features to challenge the most skilled of riders.
If you are wondering just where to find these world-class biking trails in the Waterloo Region the map below should help you find your way. There are several good starting points if you want to tackle the whole thing, although most choose to start their trip at The Glasgow Parking Lot, which is located at 1522 Glasgow St. Kitchener, ON.
Some also find that The Snyder's Road Parking Lot, which offers direct access to the Pines section of the trail - a great colder season ride - is a good starting point. However, there is a railroad crossing there, so extreme caution should be exercised when crossing the lot.
The total trail distance offers a long ride for those who want a day's cycling that can, at points, offer a real challenge. Alternately, if you are looking for a more leisurely time, you can choose to take one or two of them at a time.
Get Out With Your Pup!
Lots of new Waterloo Region residents will be of the canine variety, and there are many canine citizens already in residence, most of whom love a good long walk. The kind of long walk it's hard to find in a big city. What are the best dog friendly hikes in the Kitchener Waterloo area? There are some wonderful ones to choose from for sure and the Kitchener Waterloo area is full of beautiful places to explore with your four-legged friend.
With an array of lush forests, wood chip trails and picnic-friendly spots, KW is the perfect place to kick back and relax with your pet.
Take a look at our picks of the best dog-friendly hikes in the Kitchener Waterloo area, to keep you and your pet occupied.
1. Bechtel Park Trail
Located north of the centre of Kitchener
A firm favourite of dog parents this is a short but spectacular park trail. At just 3.2 km, it's a pretty simple track, but it will give your dog the much-needed fresh air that they want. This wood chip trail is very beautiful, and is located just north of the centre of Kitchener in Bechtel Park.
For the summer months and into the fall, it is a perfect trail as the rich forested area will shield you and your dog from the sun. There are off-leash areas that are fenced off so that your dog can be free to roam, but the designated walks are on-leash trails.
2. Iron Horse Trail
Located in south-west Kitchener
As it traces an old railway line that used to run from Waterloo to Kitchener, this path is full of history. The abandoned railway line is nestled in the city and is situated in the Victoria Park area in Southwest Kitchener. For you and your dog, it's the ideal city escape.
The trail itself is perfect for any ability level, and if you're running with your dog, it's ideal since walkers and cyclists have marked paths. It's a decent length, 5.5km long, and it's great for an evening summer walk.
3. Laurel Creek Conservation Area
Located north west of downtown Kitchener
This route is easily accessible for those who want to take a time out of the city and relax with their dog in nature, just minutes outside of Kitchener and Waterloo. Wildlife and birds are abundant in the conservation area, as well as three forested trails with a river and plenty of picnic areas.
At 4.5 km, this hike is also a great length, and will give your dog a much-needed run around without tiring any of you out too much. It's open all year round and even has camping, canoeing and kayaking, so if you want to make it a weekend you can.
4. Westside Trails
Located in Waterloo
The Westside Trails are a great place to relax and enjoy nature with your dog, with over 12 km of woodland walks. The trail features urban wetlands, rare plants and breeding birds, so this hike is full of wonderful natural wildlife to discover.
For any forest-loving dog, it's an utter delight, but they will need to be kept on a leash as the trails are protected conservation areas. If you want a real workout, there are steep slopes on some of the trails that are perfect if you want to push yourself.
5. Walter Bean Grand River Trail
Trailhead located east of Kitchener
The Walter Bean Grand River Trail, with years of recreational history behind it is the ideal spot for a riverside stroll with your pet. It has several access points and is also a popular place for dog walking, running, rollerblading and cross-country skiing!
It's a total of 78 km, so you'll probably want to take only a part of the trail at a time. It can be a perfect route to revisit again and again with your dog, as it's such a vast trail area. It takes you through Waterloo, Cambridge and Kitchener and has points of access throughout each area. The Walter Bean Trail has stunning scenery and spectacular views of the Grand River, which should not be missed!
Want to try a trial that has plenty for humans and dogs to see and do? The GeoTime Trail uses interpretive signs to trace the city of Waterloo's geological history.
This 412-kilometer (2.8-mile) trail represents one million years of geological history with each metre. Each millimetre corresponds to 1,000 years.
The trail shows us where geological periods begin and end, when different biological organisms first appeared on Earth, and when major disasters occurred. There's also a sundial where you can learn how to tell time.
This trail opened in 2007, commemorating our 150th anniversary, the 50th anniversary of the University of Waterloo, and the city's 150th kilometer of trail. It was the first of its kind in Canada, and it was detailed in Canada's contributions to the 2008 UNESCO-sponsored International Year of Planet Earth.
Get to the Oktoberfest!
Every year in September and October, right here in the Kitchener Waterloo region, we host one of the most anticipated events of the year, The Kitchener Waterloo Oktoberfest. In fact, our annual festival of beer, brats and brilliant celebrations is the largest and most attended Bavarian culture festival in North America. The big Thanksgiving Day parade is even nationally televised.
Obviously the pandemic has curtailed the in person fun for the pst few years, but this year the physical festival is back and bigger than ever. Running from Septemeber 23rd to October 15th this year, there is a LOT going on, and you can read all about it on the offical website here.
But why be excited if you've never exerienced our amazing Oktoberfest before? Where can we start? Amazing food, bountiful beer, great music, dancing, contests, lots of great arts and crafts, friendly folks, and much more. Did we mention the food and the beer? 😉
You might be wondering how a city in Ontario ended up hosting the biggest Oktoberfest outside Bavaria for more than 50 years in the first place.
The first known Oktoberfest was held in Munich, Germany, and it’s a spectacle that continues to this day. That first one occurred when Kronprinz Ludwig, later King Ludwig I married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. To celebrate the occasion the citizens of Munich were invited to attend the festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates.
There were horse races, markets, all kinds of entertainments and lots (and lots) of food and beer. And everyone had so much fun that it was decided that it should become an annual celebration of all things Bavarian, not just of a royal wedding.
As Germans emigrated elsewhere, including into Canada, they brought their love of Oktoberfest with them. Our incarnation began in 1969, organized by a small, but dedicated group of volunteers. Over 50 years later it takes a cast of thousands to stage and is bigger and better than ever. It's a don't miss, and there really is something for everyone!
These are just some of the exciting outdoor activities you can enjoy in the Waterloo Region this fall (and every fall), and they offer just a few more reasons to consider our amazing area if you are considering buying a home in Ontario. What to know more, or understand what the current housing market is like in the Waterloo Region? Contat us today, we'll be happy to tell you as much as you want to know!