Whether it’s the ruffle of leaves on a warm breeze, the twittering of birds in the trees, or the gentle rush of water lapping along the shore or roaring down a river, nature has always been my favourite place to just be.
In my opinion, nature is the best way to recentre and de-stress and is the backdrop in many of my favoured destinations, either for day trips or vacations. There are times when I enjoy a trip into a big city and I love to explore the charms of a small town, but my heart feels most at home when surrounded by nature.
A few weeks ago I made a trip to Elora with my friends where we enjoyed a beautiful day of swimming, lounging, hiking, and great company (shoutout to Heather, Mara, Michelle, and Anjelica). It was a trip that I’d been longing to make for years already and was glad when the opportunity finally struck. We met in the late morning at Elora Quarry Conservation Area, where we took a potluck picnic down to the water and spent a couple of hours enjoying the area before it became overly crowded.
MJ Says: Elora Quarry Conservation Area is a very popular spot in the summer months and will fill up quickly on weekends and holidays. Be sure to arrive early and enjoy the water before the crowds arrive and the heat reaches its peak. Alternatively, make plans to head in on a weekday if your schedule allows so that the summer rush is less of a concern. Admission to Elora Quarry CA will also give you admission to Elora Gorge CA, and vice versa, so be sure to make the most of your day by taking the 5 minute drive over to the Gorge afterwards to enjoy the river and trails.
Before departing from the quarry, we took a small walk around the short trails to capture the incredibly vibrant turquoise waters and surrounding landscape.
Then, we made the short journey over to the Gorge, where we walked along the trails overlooking the Grand River. It was here where my friend, Mara, commented on the pace and focus of the other visitors. She said that when she’s hiking trails with her family, she prefers to take it slower and enjoy the beauty around her. Mara said something along the lines of “why speed through nature when you are in the midst of natural beauty?” It’s a philosophy with which I strongly agree, especially since (adult) admission is anywhere between $7-$10 per day pass at GRCA parks.
With that being said, you don’t need to pay park fees or drive long distances to enjoy nature and all of its perks. The best part about the outdoors is that it’s widely available, easy to access, and free of charge. However, if you are paying admission to enter a park or conservation area, not only should you be respectful of the land, but you should also take time to appreciate the natural landscape that has been protected and cared for so that visitors like yourself have nature to which you can “escape”.
The outdoors could mean a small park in the city, a small oasis hidden within the humdrum network of grey towers. Or, it could be a vast stretch of green giants in middle of “nowhere”, playing host to creatures both big and small. Whenever and wherever you find yourself nature, I encourage you to take time to truly enjoy its beauty and be thankful for its maker and keepers.
MJ Says: Want to enjoy the summer weather but don’t have the time or money to go far? Explore your area! You’ll find the beauty is closer than you thought – Elora is just one of many local gems. Check out the list of parks on the GRCA website and plan a day trip or weekend getaway with your friends.