hiker looking up at tree

Take a hike!

Today’s blog was written by Discovery Program Project Coordinator Jessica Stillman. 

We’re not trying to be rude; we really do want you to take a hike!

On Wednesday, August 9, 2023, Discovery staff across the province are encouraging everyone to explore our provincial park system by taking a hike.

But why?

Guided hikes have a long history within Ontario Parks. They’re reputed to be the spark that began the Discovery Program, which now reaches over 1 million visitors every year.

Discovery programs like guided hikes are one of the many ways Discovery staff share the natural and cultural stories of a park. These stories transcend time and space, and trails are a great way to explore them!

group touring mine
The Silver Queen Mine Trail, Murphys Point Provincial Park

Trails can be anything we want them to be. A quiet moment for self-reflection, an artist’s inspiration, a chance to reconcile with our past, and look to the future at what our legacy will be.

Discovery staff and our park trails help visitors explore and create deeper connections with Ontario’s heritage one step at a time.

What is Take a Hike Day?

It’s an opportunity!

An opportunity for exploration, discovery, wonder, and awe.

group walking on boardwalk
Wasaga Beach Provincial Park

Whether along a trail with our knowledgeable Discovery staff or on your own with one of our amazing Discovery products, it’s a chance to enjoy the beauty of Ontario Parks.

How can I participate?

It’s simple – go take a hike!

We’d love it if you could join our Discovery staff for a hike, which is why over 75 provincial parks will be offering hiking programs on Wednesday, August 9!

What types of programs are these parks offering?

Guided hikes

Many of our parks will be offering a guided hike led by one of the park’s incredible Discovery staff.

staff showing visitor geological feature
Big Bend Lookout, Arrowhead Provincial Park

While the topic of the programs will vary, there are a few things that are guaranteed to be the same no matter what guided hike program you attend:

  1. World class interpretation – no, our Discovery staff are not going to interpret a language to you, but instead, speak for the natural and cultural history of the park.
  2. One-of-a-kind stories – like all Discovery programs, these guided hikes are designed to share stories with you in meaningful and engaging ways that will leave you wanting to know more.
  3. Breathtaking views – Discovery staff know all the best places to stop along a trail. Let them share their favourite trail views with you!
  4. Memories – thought-provoking, funny, inspirational, and engaging; Discovery programs are what memories are made of.

From sunset strolls to night hikes, parks are putting their best foot forward for Take a Hike Day and they want you to strap on your walking shoes to do the same!

discovery staff standing on rock
Lally Homestead Trail, Murphys Point Provincial Park

Check out each park’s event calendar, see in-park program listings, or speak to staff for details about what programs are being offered.

Discovery Hike Exploration Stations

Meet up with one of our experienced Discovery Guides at a Discovery Hike Exploration Station.

Lace up your hiking shoes and drop by the Discovery table to pick up tips and tools for exploring a hiking trail at your own pace. Explore using your senses – who knows what magical things you will discover?

child writing in activity book

These drop-in programs are self-paced and provide an easy way for any age to explore a new side of the park.

Don’t forget to grab a free Discovery Activity book for additional hands-on exploration activities.

Self-guided hiking

Can’t make it to a program on August 9? Not to worry, Ontario Parks has over 2,000 km of trails across the province that you can plan a self-guided hiking adventure to.

Many of which have Discovery products like trail guides and interpretive panels to help you dive deeper into the heritage of the trail.

visitor reading about fossils
Craigleith Provincial Park

The only question is which trail will you take?

For younger visitors, some trails have a story walk along them. These are signs or trail posts with pages of a story that you interact with as you walk the trail. Story walks are fun, educational activities that promote literacy, learning, and outdoor play — a perfect fit for a hike!

family looking at interpretive sign
Tulip Tree Trail, Rondeau Provincial Park

Don’t forget to pack your Discovery Activity book or to pick one up at the main park office.

Filled with lots of great prompts and activities to encourage exploration, these FREE books turn any trail into a place of discovery!

So what will you be doing on August 9?

We hope you said: “taking a hike!”

We know you can go for a hike any day, but why not choose to take a hike with thousands of other visitors across the province?

On the Tiny Bog Trail
Tiny Bog Trail, White Lake Provincial Park

How cool will it be to say you were part of the largest group of Ontario Parks visitors spread the farthest apart (across a whole province) all taking a hike on the same day?

Our Discovery team is excited to share the trails and stories of Ontario with you.

Happy hiking to all!

Take a Hike Day is an initiative presented by the Discovery Program.

It is another great way you can participate in the Healthy Parks Healthy People (HPHP) program at Ontario Parks during the annual 30×30 Nature Challenge, where we encourage Ontarians to make time in nature a part of their daily routines by spending 30 minutes per day outside for 30 days during the month of August.

For more information about Healthy Parks Healthy People at Ontario Parks, visit our website.