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Embracing winter in Hamilton

Remember being a kid and getting majorly excited when the first true snowfall of the season arrived? Or the feeling you had when school was cancelled and you got to spend all day making snow angels, building snowmen, and having snowball fights? As adults we tend to think of winter as a pain — the roads are bad, you have to get up earlier to brush off your car, and everything is just so… cold.

It doesn’t have to be that way though! Winter is a magical time of year where the blanket of snow reshapes familiar places and creates new activities. People travel to Canada from around the world in order to experience winter adventures. Let’s not take for granted what we have in our own backyard.

Getting outside and exploring nature can help combat those negative feelings that tend to plague people around this time of year. Hamilton offers all sorts of fun so let’s lace up our boots, pull on our snow pants, and grab our toques — we’re going to experience winter as if you were a kid again.

Go for a winter walk and birdwatch at the Royal Botanical Gardens

The Royal Botanical Gardens offer a variety of winter walks with their 27 kms of nature trails. You can either choose a guided tour or walk on your own. The gardens at this time of year are known to be filled with chickadees with some people reporting the birds feeding right out of their hands! Many varieties of owls are also more active during the winter, so keep an eye on the sky.

Hike, snowshoe, and ski Hamilton’s many trails

You may think that winter is dreary, cold, and bleak, but the woods around Hamilton are lovely, dark, and deep. Why not go for a winter hike on one of the many scenic paths available? Know that some trails are not maintained during the winter months so make sure you check the trail status before heading out, and that you have appropriate footwear and clothing.

Snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing are also favourite activities along Hamilton’s trails. There are several shops in the city which rent out cross-country skis or snowshoes and you can take day trips out to several different locations. The Dundas Valley Conservation Area, Christie Lake, and the Bruce Trail are all excellent options. The Hamilton Conservation Area boasts a combined total of 145 kms of trails, so there’s plenty to explore! If you’re a skilled skier and are up for a challenge, you can even try your hand at the 32 km Hamilton to Brantford Rail Trail.

Fat-biking is an option that has been gaining popularity as well! The tires on these bikes are specially designed for snow, so you can feel the fresh air in your face as you zoom past people on the trails. Fat-bikes can be rented from a few different shops in the city including Downtown Bike Hounds and Freewheel Cycle.

Lace up your skates at an outdoor rink

Did you know that Hamilton has over 30 outdoor skating rinks? Visit the City of Hamilton’s website to see which one is closest to you. Of course, the most well-known is the NHL-sized skating rink at Pier 8. The rink is open everyday and is free to skate. They also have on-site skate rentals and nearby cafés, so you can warm up afterward with a well-deserved mug of hot chocolate. Try visiting at night when the lights shine over the ice for a romantic date idea!

View a picturesque frozen waterfall

A list of Hamilton attractions is never complete without a view of one of the city’s many waterfalls. In the winter, those waterfalls freeze and make for stunning views. Popular sites are the Devil’s Punchbowl in Stoney Creek, Tews Falls in Dundas, as well as Tiffany Falls in Ancaster. Brave souls can even learn to climb the frozen waterfalls at Tiffany Falls — you just have to get your ice-climbing certification first!

As always, make sure that you know your limits before setting out on any winter adventures. Stay safe, bundle up, and have fun out there!

Header image courtesy of Alyssa Posca

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