Woolwich’s 100-km trail system has been put to good use by the Woolwich Trails Group – even through the winter.
Eager hikers set out on Monday night for the group’s first-ever night hike. They also presented badges to members who’ve logged 100 and 200-kilometres on the trails since the group launched their Woolwich Healthy Hikes program last May.
Nancy Stayzer from the Woolwich Trails Group says the idea for the night hike came while she and another member of the group were doing their Certified Hike Leader course through Hike Ontario.
“One of the presentations that they made during the day we did our hike qualifications was about how fun it was to take a group of people on a night hike. We talked about it and then we brought it to our group and we decided to give it a try. We had planned it for winter solstice, but the weather was so horrible that night that we had to change it to [Monday], but I’ve always love being outside on solstice,” Stayzer said.
She thinks this is the first night hike in Woolwich in terms of the trails group, since she’s never heard of them doing it in her 20 years as part of the trails group.
“I have a couple of groups that hike regularly. There’s a group of retired teachers and of that group I think four of the five of us will be out [for the night hike],” Stayzer said on Monday, prior to the hike. “I think also there is an appeal to the venue. Sandy Hills is a beautiful place to hike and in the winter it’s just heightened. The tall trees, the longstanding conifers and the trail winds through the bush. And doing something different too, I think.”
The trails group’s theme last year was healthy hikes, encouraging people to get out and explore the township’s more than 100 kilometres of trail. People were able to log their distance walked in Woolwich and send it in to the group to get a badge once they reached the 100-km mark. Three members received their 100-km badges on Monday.
“There’s actually a man from Breslau who will receive his 200-km hike badge, which is pretty cool,” Stayzer added.
He had earned his badge by June, just a month after the healthy hikes initiative was launched. The three ladies completed their 100-km by the end of the summer. The badge incentive was borrowed from other local trail groups who give out badges for completing different sections of their trails, which Stayzer enjoys.
“I’ve hiked the entire Bruce Trail, the Grand Valley Trail, the Avon Trail and recognition of all of these hike clubs is a badge. And I really like them, I collect them. I have to admit I show them to people, so we just thought this would be something local that might inspire people from Woolwich to do a longer trail somewhere else and get a badge,” Stayzer said.
They host hikes at least once a month throughout the spring and the summer and into the fall and now the winter. She says it’s nice to come and meet people who are hiking because you might find someone that lives in your area who you could hike on your own with, rather than joining a group.
There will be a new series of hikes coming out in April.
“A lot of the work that the trails group does is volunteer. All of us love to be outdoors and on the trails and it’s just something that it’s a personal passion for everybody involved. To be able to share this with other people, maybe somebody who’s never been out after dark or somebody who’s never been on the Sandy Hills trail, it just means that we’re able to share our passion and hopefully inspire other people to take it up,” Stayzer said.
The trail map and the log for tracking your distance are available at www.healthywoolwich.org.