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Photo by Gord Bowes

Photo by Gord Bowes

Youngsters have fun trying cross-country skiing as a group sport.

Want to get out of the house? Just hit the trail

Opportunities for fresh air and exercise are never far away in Hamilton during the winter thanks to abundant hiking trails that are usually also suitable for cross-country skiing after a good snowfall.

In the west end, the Royal Botanical Gardens offers 18 kilometres of trails by Cootes Paradise. Key access points include the Arboretum off Old Guelph Road, Princess Point at the foot of Macklin Street North and a parking area on York Road in Dundas.

Cross-country skiers looking for formal trails can visit Valens and Christie Lake conservation areas in Flamborough, both of which feature 10-kilometre routes that are groomed when there is enough snow.

The Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail is ideal for walking or cross-country skiing and passes through the 1,200-hectare Dundas Valley, whose 40 kilometres of trails provide easy access to nature’s wonders.

Moving east, the Chedoke Rail Trail is another scenic route, running from Iroquoia Heights Conservation Area in Ancaster, which has several side trails, down the escarpment and past Chedoke golf course, a popular spot for cross-country skiers.

The Escarpment Rail Trail is also a great way to enjoy its namesake feature, running from Wentworth Street to Albion Falls on the east Mountain, a route passing through Mohawk Sports Park, which offers other hiking and cross-country skiing possibilities.

A short distance to the east of Albion Falls is the Red Hill Valley Recreational Trail, a 10.5-kilometre stretch running down the escarpment from a parking lot by the corner of Mud Street and Pritchard Road.

Key points of interest include Red Hill Creek and King’s Forest Golf Course, another popular spot for cross-country skiers. The trail winds up at Confederation Park and its lakeshore paths.

Also on the east Mountain, the Chippawa Rail Trail stretches between Mount Albion Conservation Area, located by Stone Church and Dartnall roads, and Caledonia, a rustic route running through farmland and over the Welland River. Nearby, off Upper Mount Albion Road, is Stoney Creek’s Eramosa Karst Conservation Area, a unique geological formation whose looping trails are ideal for hiking or skiing.

Also in Stoney Creek, the Dofasco 2000 Trail runs from the spectacular Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area, located by Ridge Road and First Road East on top of the escarpment, to the Winona-Grimsby border.

The 11.5-kilometre trail features a boardwalk that winds through the Vinemount Swamp, allowing an especially scenic view of this provincially significant wetland, the largest in the city’s east end.

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