When it comes to an urban hike there is a bit more to it than just taking off. Just as when hiking in the woods it’s important to plan it out. If you don’t, you can walk into problems. Problems range from getting lost, getting caught in bad weather, or forgetting to take something as important as your map. It happens. The following is how I make sure I am always prepared for urban hiking trips.
Picture above of Heart's Desire Park.
Step 1 - Choosing Where To Go.
This week I decided to start at Algonquin College and walk straight down Woodroffe Avenue to Barrhaven’s Heart Desire Park.
I chose this trail for this post because I wanted a simple path with a destination goal. Of course, it’s important to enjoy the journey while on a hike, but with so much land to cover when you are trying to walk all the streets in Ottawa, I find that choosing a destination and making sure you cover a lot of ground to get there is a useful technique.
I will be doing a neighbourhood hike another time, but for this week I thought I’d keep it simple.
Step 2 – Filling In The Blanks.
After choosing where I wanted to go I needed to figure out all the little details, such as: which day I am going, what will the weather be like, what is Heart’s Desire Park like, what am going to need to pack, and how am I going to get there and back.
These are my pre-hike notes on Heart's Desire Park:
When: Wednesday, October 21st, 9:30 am to 6:00 pm
Weather: Cloudy with a 40 percent chance of rain
Destination Details: A forest at the south end of Woodroffe Ave. along a river, possible muddy trails
Things To Consider Packing: Umbrella, Rain Coat, Plastic Bags, and Extra Socks
Route To Destination: Begin at the corner of College Ave. and Woodroffe Ave. and continue towards Barrhaven to the end of Woodroffe Ave.
Return Route: For this I have four options. I prefer to have as many ways back as possible that include transportation options in case of fatigue or injury.
1. Walk back up Woodroffe Ave.
2. Walk up Prince of Wales Drive to Baseline to Baseline Station
3. Take bus 94 from Chapman Mills Drive bus station to Baseline Station
4. Take bus 176 up Prince of Wales to Baseline, then take the 118 to Baseline Station
Step 3 –What’s in the bag?
I have two sets of items. First, the mandatory items that every urban hiker should consider taking with them. Then, the items you may need judging by what the day is going to be like.
This is what I brought with me to Heart's Desire Park:
- Rain Coat
- Head band
- Plastic bags
- Notebook and pens
- My phone with the Nike+ app for tracking
- Map of Ottawa
- iPod with headphones
- Hand sanitizer
- First aid
- Bus pass and extra change
Some people pack light. I do not.
Step 4 – Take a Hike!
This hike was 14.61 km long, and took me 4 hours, and 11 minutes.
The long stretch between College Avenue and Fallowfield Road had a few points of interest like the pumpkin and horse farms, however you can only see them from a distance. I also discovered while walking this stretch Pinhey Forest. It seems to be a very popular spot for dog walkers as I could see them on the trails in the bush.
When I made it to Barrhaven I was able to partake in one of the best perks of urban hiking, being able to take a break in a Tim Horton's. I love hiking in the woods as much as in the city, but it is definitely a spoil to be able to rest at a coffee shop before continuing on.
This was my first time in the area. From what I could tell from being only on Fallowfield Rd. and Woodroffe Ave., it's a pretty nice place to be. It appears to be very quiet yet still full of life.
When I got to the bottom of Woodroffe Ave. I found it was closed for construction, but they were still letting local traffic through. If you are going to this area any time soon I recommend you plan to make detours due to the construction.
When I was telling my friends where I was going, even the ones who live in Ottawa and/or Barrhaven, none of them knew where Heart's Desire Park was. No one had heard of it. Turns out though it may be marked on maps, there are no signs around the park to tell you it's there.
From what I know, you can go down a road that stretches straight off Woodroffe Ave. to an unmarked gravel road on the right hand side that runs through the middle of the park, or you can head to the end of Eisenhower Crescent where there is a trail opening.
Currently, some of the trails are hard to see because of the golden leaves blanketing the ground, but the terrain is mostly flat, and the trees are not too dense, so it is safe enough to go off trail to look around.
The park itself has quite a few points of interest in such a small area. There is a calm river that runs along its perimeter, a few pine tree lined trails, and a mysterious pit full of abandoned car parts.
It's a gorgeous little park to wander through. Though it does see causal walkers, it doesn't seem to get heavy foot traffic unlike around Mud Lake along the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway. If you are interested in a quiet walk through the woods I highly recommend this park.
Unfortunately, I had to take the bus back due to injury to my right leg. I was still able to see a lot and have a wonderful experience.
Thanks for reading!
Comment below if I missed anything important or any questions!
Holly Drew is a Professional Writing student at Algonquin College in Ottawa. Holly is originally from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where she spent a lot of time hiking in the beautiful Algoma District and Upper U.P., Michigan. Holly’s other home is in Lima, Peru, where she lived for one year as a Rotary International Exchange Student. Holly enjoys adventure, photography, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and writing.
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