Take a Nordic Hike!

Winter blues got you down? Take a nordic hike before the snow is gone.

Last week, my walking buddy invited me to join her for a brisk morning hike in the woods along a section of the Oak Ridges Trail.

Brisk was the word for it: we trekked 9 km in 2 hours through the Happy Valley Forest. The snow wasn’t deep enough to require snowshoes, but I was glad I brought my ski poles to turn it into a nordic walking workout. Nordic walking is good for cardiovascular stamina as well as balance and stability. Adding poles while hiking adds 15-20% to the calorie burn, increases oxygen uptake and engages more muscles.

The hikes are free, run by volunteers and take place several times a week at various trails along the Oak Ridges Moraine, a ridge that extends over 160 km to the north of the most populated region of Ontario. Left over from the last ice age, the Oak Ridges Moraine acts as nature’s filter to provide clean drinking water to over a million people. The trails are beautiful and I hope to do more of these hikes in various seasons. Since it has mostly deciduous trees, the Happy Valley Forest would be particularly gorgeous in fall.

It was great to exercise in nature’s gym for a change – lots of fresh air, sunshine and only the sound of a solitary woodpecker pounding on a tree in the distance.

This was a good kickstart to get ready for the spring running season before the snow is gone.

winter hike in the woods

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6 Responses to Take a Nordic Hike!

  1. Virginia Heffernan March 25, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    I have a love-hate relationship with Nordic walkers. While I applaud anyone who gets outside for winter exercise, the walkers often ruin the XC ski trails. It’s really difficult to ski on pockmarked trails. I often think “if only they could shift the the left a little, then we could all get along”, but of course it is human nature to choose the path of least resistance.

    The poles are definitely a great hiking accessory. We gave my 93-year old Dad some for Christmas and they have improved his speed and enjoyment of any walk – in forest, beach, field or urban jungle – tremendously.

    • Jane March 25, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

      Good point about ruining XC ski trails – the Happy Valley Forest was not marked as such but presumably people could ski there and I see what you mean. And wow – good for your Dad to be hiking around at 93, that’s amazing!

  2. Christine Peets March 25, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    I’ve been using some old ski poles now adapted with walking pole “feet” for several years and I really enjoy the benefits. I don’t always take them with me when I go out walking in town, but when I do, I sometimes get a few comments and strange looks.

    We have some good trails including ones at provincial parks in this area, so I’m looking forward to some spring hiking!

    Thanks for this article, Jane.

    • Jane March 25, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

      I look forward to checking out your ‘walking feet” sometime, Christine to see how they’re different from ski poles!

  3. Kit Leong March 24, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    I think the Trilliums will put on quite a show!

    • Jane March 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

      You’re right, Kit. It’s the right kind of forest to have lots of them in May. Hope you’re game to go back to see, this time perhaps at a slower pace with cameras.