Click here for some great suggestions from locals for rides in Waterloo Region: https://www.ontariobybike.ca/bike-media/news/entry/locals-share-top-rides-in-waterloo-region
If you enjoy time in the wilderness, you will probably enjoy this book, North Shore Rescue – If You Get Lost Today, Will Anyone Know? by Allen Billy. He has been a member of the North Shore Rescue team for twelve years and has participated in over 700 search and rescue operations in mountain, wilderness and urban environments. The North Shore Rescue Team is the busiest volunteer search and rescue team in Canada and averages 135 missions per year.
The book contains personal stories of many of the volunteer missions, along with the safety lessons to be learned from the experience.
To order the book go to: http://northshorerescuebook.com/
4.6 km hiking trail: Click on map below for interactive map of trail
The Speed River Trail runs beside the Speed River from behind the Guelph Humane Society to Blackbridge Rd, just north of Hespeler. From there, Cambridge hiking trails lead to the confluence of the Speed River and the Grand. The trail is maintained by the Guelph Hiking Trail Club. We hiked the first 2 sections in 2019, but the guidebook warned against hiking in the fall during hunting season and that it can be wet and mosquito-y. We left the final section to a nice spring day, before the mosquito season. We wore our waterproof boots just in case. However, although the trail was damp in sections, the Guelph Hiking Trail Club has put boards over the muddy sections and built a boardwalk through the wettest part of the swamp, so we could have hiked the entire section without getting our shoes wet. The trail is well marked with orange blazes on the main trail and blue blazes on side trails.
The trail starts on the south side of Speed River bridge on Hwy 132. The bridge is very narrow with no pedestrian facilities and there is a lot of traffic, including large trucks, so it is best to park beside the road south of the bridge. From there, the trail follows close to the river, winding through woodlots and wetlands. Early spring flowers were in full bloom and the birds were courting noisily in the trees. Unfortunately, there is an enormous gravel pit with noisy trucks and machinery on the other side of the river for much of the first half of the trail, which spoils the illusion of being far from civilization. Hiking on a weekend would probably be much quieter.
Numerous fiddleheads of indigenous ostrich ferns were poking their heads above the ground. One unusual native plant that we spotted was the large-flowered bellwort.
The Speed River Trail ends at the historic Black Bridge, where eager kayakers were putting their craft into the water.
After a few cold, blustery days, the wind calmed and the sun emerged from the clouds to create a perfect winter day to get outside. It was time to visit the Grand River as it flows through the middle of Cambridge. Despite the recent cold snap, the river was still flowing smoothly and rapidly.
A patch of red osier dogwood glowed in the sunshine against the snow.
A large flock of geese and some mallards were diving for food in the river. Suddenly my eye caught sight of one brightly coloured interloper–a common goldeneye that had migrated from the northern boreal forest to winter in our mellow climate.
The double-arched bridge is one of a series of iconic bowstring bridges along the Grand River. Its simple concrete contrasts with the ornate Victorian brick buildings in downtown Galt.
The new pedestrian bridge exudes modern, industrial chic.
On the other side of the river, the deconsecrated Romanesque-style church occupied by the Cambridge Arts Theatre positively gleamed.
My last stop was across the river from Galt Collegiate Institute, founded in 1852 as a boys’ Grammar School. It is one of the oldest still operating schools in Canada.
The railway crosses the river next to the school. Today it was paired with a shadow bridge on the ice below.