Ontario - The Big Picture
Ontario has some of the most treasured and protected outdoor areas in the world with:
329 Provincial Parks
400 Conservation Areas
292 Conservation Reserves
Many people link trails with recreation and relaxation. But the benefits are far greater. Trails also provide economic, health, social, heritage, cultural and environmental benefits to Ontario's communities.
Our home and native land
Approximately 400 conservation areas offer a wide range of recreation sites including 5,000 campsites and 1,400 km of trails.
These areas attract more than 10 million visitors a year. An amazing 4.5 million people visit conservation areas as either day visitors or campers every year.
Ontario has over 73,000 km (42,800 miles) of trails.
Approximately 800,000 Ontarians use hiking trails.
Southern Ontario's Greenbelt has Canada's largest network of hiking trails. This unique hiking area links the oldest and longest footpath in Canada -the Bruce Trail, with another popular hiking route - the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail.
Two hundred of the animals found in Ontario parks are considered rare or endangered species.
Ontario's habitat supports huge numbers of plants and animals; over 3,000 species of plants, 158 species of fish, 80 species of reptiles and amphibians,400 species of birds, and 85 species of mammals.
Ontario's landscape varies from the rocky vastness of the Canadian Shield to the grassy lowlands of the north and the rich farmlands of the south.
There are over 250,000 lakes in Ontario and they make up a shocking one-third of the world's fresh water supply.
The trend is for people to take vacations closer to home. Many trail organizations fill that need with activities such as equestrian rides, bicycle and snowmobile tours. As a result, money is pumped into the local economy through retail sales, lodging and food.
Our provincial government's Board of Health guidelines state:The Board of Health shall work with municipal recreation departments and other community partners to promote and increase access to regular physical activity for people of all ages.
This shall include, as a minimum, to assist community partners to increase the availability of safe and accessible recreation opportunities such as walking trails and cycling routes.
With access to safe and affordable recreation, people can prevent and manage health afflictions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and circulatory and respiratory problems. Among the 10 most popular fitness activities are walking, biking and jogging, all of which are perfect for trails.
Social BenefitsTrails are accessible to people of all income brackets, age groups and cultures. They're open year-round and many trail activities encourage groups and clubs to get together. Creating and maintaining trails builds partnerships that include private companies, landowners, local government, advocacy groups and residents. This brings people together with a common cause which we believe is beneficial for our society.
Heritage BenefitsTrails link historic and cultural sites, providing opportunities for community festivals, events and competitions. Museums which focus on native heritage have been erected along historical aboriginal trails.
Interpretive signs along trails identify areas of historical interest such as buildings, bridges, canal locks, signaling devices and switching stations. Today, many abandoned rail lines are being converted to trail lines, preserving Ontario's heritage and history.
Many trails help create and preserve green spaces and provide habitat for wildlife. They also provide bike routes so that urban commuters can ride their bikes to work which reduces smog emissions.
With glowing hearts and health
The human body's muscles are designed for walking. Therefore hiking is a natural activity.
Walkingand hiking have many benefits: they reduce elevated blood fats, improve digestion, relieve stress and tension, and burn calories.
The percentage of trail users who are kids is approximately 25%.
One hour and 50 minutes is the average amount of time people spend on a trail and the average hiking distance is about 11 km.
Canadianslove walking. This foot happy activity has consistently been the most popular physical activity of Canadians over the last ten years. Apparently, 85% of Canadians walk for leisure and recreational reasons.
Among Canadian teenagers, cycling is the most popular physical activity. Parents, plan your vacations accordingly.