I lived in the City of Cambridge for close to two years, this was where my life as an adult really began. I had my first apartment and first car, which came with a side of my first set of bill payments. I often (as so many of us do in our twenties) lived paycheck to paycheck and cut out most added expenses, such as outings of any kind with the exception of anything free. It was during this time that I really turned to hiking and the outdoors for my source of entertainment. While, I have (thankfully) moved on from this stage of my life I do have a bit of nostalgia for Cambridge hiking. Particularly anything that runs parallel with the grand river; a place where I would spend many days thinking about my life and how I could make things better.
The place I turned to during these darker days was always (no really, always) The Walter Bean Grand River Trail and I always began my hike with a lookout over the Grand River. You can hike the majority of this trail by the cliff side by taking the lookout point side trail, this will take you through a smaller, skinnier tree enveloped track which is surrounded by green on the left and a nice view of the river on the right.
What I really enjoyed about hiking this area, was the diverse landscape and vast amount of flora. You will come across birch trees, pine trees, trillium flowers in the spring, ferns, mossy rocks and exposed tree roots, which come together to make the Walter Bean Grand River Trail. I have climbed low cliffs, skipped rocks on the river and biked canopied large pathways; all offered in the same place.
The vast amount of nature, paired with the 17.7 km of hiking , make this a nice destination for the citizens of Kicthener-Waterloo. I say this because while I enjoyed coming here frequently, I would not recommend going out of your way to make The Walter Bean Grand River trail a destination if you don’t have anything else to do in Cambridge.
I don’t think I will ever make my way back to Cambridge, let alone the Walter Bean Grand River Trail, not because there is nothing to do and the scenery isn’t beautiful but more because I have locked this area away in my past where it pretty much belongs. Something that may sound strange when in reference to a hiking spot but I think we all have painful memories and associations with that pain are…not fun to say the least. With that being said, I will gladly take what those years in Cambridge gave me – my love for hiking – and point my boots forward, ready to stomp on some new ground.