Every year towns and private land owners open their doors and land to the public to share the experience and beauty of the Haliburton area at a huge hiking festival. This year, Hike Haliburton takes place September 18-22.
Hikes and events run from dawn to dusk, with some even under the stars, and this event is also a celebration of performing arts and visual arts with many studios and galleries to wander through. With names like: Hey honey let’s go for a walk; E-bike and Hike; Dog On; Coffee House Music and Mingle; Walk in the Clouds: Art, Artefacts and Artifice; Hike and Write; and Star Trek, there are plenty of ways to jump in and catch the excitement!
It’s a vast area of spectacular views, remarkable forests and terrain, lakes, trails and mountains. Hikes are free with the exception of a few and donations are gratefully appreciated. There are concerts, music, arts, foodies and celebrities. The two main towns of the hike are Minden and Haliburton and the local guides are both fantastic and knowledgeable of the area.
My first year attending the festival, I chose 3 hikes in 3 days near Wilberforce and Cardiff which interested me:
- Uranium Mine – This hike was a mix of history of the town and the mine itself. A shorter hike of only 1.5 hours where young and old could ‘feel’ what it was like back when the mine was in full operation and the town bustling – so interesting! We also followed the creek up to a magnificent waterfall.
- Greens Mountain – Spectacular views reminded me of Algonquin Park and our amazing highland landscape. You have to see it to truly appreciate its beauty. You will come home bragging that you climbed a mountain!
- Silent Lake Provincial Park Hike (where I camped) – Crystal clear and silent, true to its name. I could hear the wolf howls echoing across the lake. It became a nightly song that I looked forward to…eerie but magical.
You literally could get lost in the festival history, charms of the towns and the people you visit. Even though it is a soul-searching peaceful time of hiking, you do meet likeminded people who are local and from abroad who are there for the same reason and love being outdoors. I have yet to meet a grumpy outdoor person or hiker!
From My Own Experience, I’d Offer These Tips to Maximize Your Trip:
- On the website, look under Trip Planning. This section will be your best friend with detailed information on the hikes and events, a map and Program Guide. It even lists places to stay, shop and eat.
- Try to choose an area you’re most interested in and centralize your hikes, otherwise you will spend your time driving from hike to hike.
- Print the map and highlight interested hikes. It helps you better navigate where they are located and which town they are near.
- Register for all hikes as soon as you can – you can change, cancel or go on a waiting list via e-mail, but they fill up quickly.
- Book early – Accommodations are limited in small towns. If hotels and lodges are booked, campgrounds are a good bet. There are some other accommodations not listed on the site that offer good lodging as well.
- Remember it’s such a large area, it is impossible to do all in one shot.
- Pack light for hikes. You have to carry your backpack the entire hike. Bring good footwear, an extra set of lightweight clothes and definitely rain wear. Rain or shine hikes and events go on.
- Bring water, tissues, a small first aid kit and a little snack. I even brought a little bit of cash, which was good because we came across an old general store, Cardiff Country Store, on one hike that had lots of neat little food items and treats.
No matter where you pick to hike or wander, an almost guaranteed good night sleep will fall upon you – likely before your head hits the pillow. When you “Hike Haliburton for body and soul,” it truly does work the body and soothe the soul.
There is nothing like highland fresh air and exercise – you’ll want to make it a yearly event!