We are so lucking to live in a community like Guelph where no matter what part of the city you live in you are literally minutes away from the country. Yesterday was a perfect day to take advantage of our geographical good fortune. The late summer sun was high in the sky as my family and I set out on a leisurely hike. One of our favourite hiking locations is The Guelph Radial Trail. The trail runs for 28km from Guelph to Limehouse along the bed of a former electric railway. We park the car on Watson Road just north of the Eramosa River and access the trail from there. The Guelph Radial Trail runs parallel to the river up to a dam then crosses over to south. There is also a side loop trail which goes up to the top of the valley ridge that has some incredible views! The side loop trail is where we decided to walk on such a perfect Sunday.
The kids scrambled out of the car followed by Murphy the puggle. Murphy, our dog is a pug and beagle hybrid and loves nothing more than a romp through the woods, his nose leading him from smell to interesting smell. The beginning of the trail is like stepping into a long dark tunnel. The temperature immediately cools as you walk beneath the canopy of tall cedars. After a short time the trail splits left and you have the option of climbing the ridge. As you emerge from the canopy you are warmed instantly by the sun and inundated by a hundred colours and aromas from the many wild flowers that grow waist-high on both sides of the well worn path. This area is also popular with mountain bikers and we shared the trail with a few going in both directions as we ascended the north side of the Eramosa River Valley. Murphy was happy to greet the other dogs that we met along they way.
As you follow the meandering trail to the top of the limestone ridge, our next discovery was a cool pine forest. The path winds through the shady groves and the fragrant needles cover the forest floor like a carpet. There are several places where you can stop, rest and enjoy some breathtaking vistas. The fact that you're only minutes from town seems impossible! At the far end of the forest the path gently descends to the valley floor where the trail follows the north bank of the Eramosa river back towards the beginning. We didn't forget to stop at the dam on the way back where Murphy had a much needed drink. We skipped stones on the calm surface of the river as kayakers floated quietly by.
The remainder of the trail is nice and flat which is a welcome sight after all that hiking. We encountered many people of all ages on our journey, many with dogs, some without. All had a content and peaceful look that seemed to say "enjoy this gift because it may be the last warm day for a while". We gave the summer sun a final salute with some ice cream on the way home. If this last day of summer was our last warm day of the year that's okay, I plan to be back when the leaves have changed. The views will be spectacular