Transplanted to London, Camara Chambers fell in love with hiking when she crossed the pond to Toronto, becoming a trained hiking leader in 2014.
However, Chambers found the club she started hiking with was “just not as diverse as the city we live in,” she says. “I saw very few young people, newcomers and BIPOC people on the walks.” After taking an online community leadership course at Harvard University, she was inspired to do something about it. “I approached the club’s board asking for their blessing to start bringing in more youngsters and I was told a firm no. They felt they were doing enough already,” she recalled. I felt such frustration and anger as I was sure a lot of people wanted to hike but didn’t know where to start. After talking with another hiker, I decided that if no one did something, I would.
So in 2021 Chambers launched Let’s Hike TO “Everyone should have the opportunity to experience the outdoors and discover the joys of hiking,” she says. “Everyone is welcome on our rides, regardless of identity.
Let’s Hike TO has leaders from Ghana, Brazil, Vietnam and Spain, who begin each hike with a reconnaissance of the land; the group also offers specialty walks, highlighting Toronto’s Indigenous and Black history.
Here, Chambers shares five great GTA hiking routes to check out this summer.
From Dupont Station to Eglinton Station (via Nordheimer Ravine and Cedarvale Ravine)
“This hike is a great way to explore the interconnecting ravines of the city. It’s a great walk to do in the summer as it’s shaded most of the time. Once you’re in the ravines, you’re led along of a path through the trees and can end the trail early at St. Clair West station, which is about halfway, if you’re tired or want to stop for snacks.
Warden Station at Muddy York Brewing
“It’s a nine kilometer walk through Warden Woods and Taylor Creek Park. The trail is paved and wide the whole way, so it’s perfect for people with strollers or who prefer to walk on flat, even paths. Muddy York is a great place to wrap up and have a cold craft beer. Watch out for cyclists sharing the path, as this is a popular cycling route.
Tommy Thompson Park
“This natural habitat is a peaceful, man-made urban wilderness that is home to more than 300 species of birds. I love it because it’s always so quiet and has great views of the city skyline.”
Rouge National Park
“For a more rugged hiking experience not too far from town, the Rouge is a great place to spend an afternoon. It is Canada’s first urban national park and stretches from Scarborough to Pickering. The Scarborough section can be reached by taking the TTC 86A bus towards the Toronto Zoo and getting off at the intersection of Meadowvale Road and Zoo Road. You can spend hours in the park and you really feel immersed in nature.”
Humber River in Roncesvalles
“A fun hike to do in the summer is along the Humber River Trail. You can start at Old Mill Station and take the trail south to Lake Ontario. From there, you can stroll along the seafront, admiring the view of the lake, to Roncy. I like to stop by TDot Jerk for jerk chicken for a well deserved break.
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