Get your dose of ‘Vitamin N’ with nearby nature in Peterborough this winter

From your own backyard to public trails, you don't have to go far to enjoy nature and experience its health benefits

There are lots of options to enjoy nature in the Peterborough area this winter, including several hidden gems including Robert Johnston Eco Forest. Owned and maintained by Douro-Dummer Township, Robert Johnston Eco Forest offers several lovely forested trails and a stunning view over rolling hills. (Photo: Leif Einarson)
There are lots of options to enjoy nature in the Peterborough area this winter, including several hidden gems including Robert Johnston Eco Forest. Owned and maintained by Douro-Dummer Township, Robert Johnston Eco Forest offers several lovely forested trails and a stunning view over rolling hills. (Photo: Leif Einarson)

As 2021 begins, we still find ourselves amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Though we may feel uncertainty and apprehension about the year ahead, there is one thing we can control in these unprecedented times: we can spend time in nature.

Nature, sometimes referred to as Vitamin N, can improve both mental and physical health, and is linked to happiness and well-being.

If you don’t yet have a 2021 New Year’s resolution, might I suggest increasing your Vitamin N exposure?

You don’t need to go far to enjoy the benefits of Vitamin N in the greater Peterborough area. In fact, having indoor plants, a street tree in front of your home, or a backyard garden are all considered nearby nature.

Advertisement - story continues below

 

 

Enjoying nearby nature can also include running along the Rotary Greenway Trail, walking the Lakefield Millennium Trail, or skating on the Trent Canal (check this page on the City of Peterborough’s website to find out whether the ice is safe for skating).

During the winter, the Peterborough Nordic Club (peterboroughnordic.com) maintains a cross-country ski trail in beautiful Jackson Park.

The ski trail is set on the four-kilometre stretch of public trail that travels through the centre of the park. While it is free to access, consider purchasing a membership or offering a donation to support the dedicated volunteers who maintain this course.

With its many kilometres of groomed trails, Kawartha Nordic Ski Club in the Township of North Kawartha is a popular destination for both Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. The trails are a brief drive from both Burleigh Falls Inn and Viamede Resort (which also offers cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the adjacent Stony Lake Trails), making it an ideal activity for your next Canadian winter getaway. (Photo: Kawartha Nordic Ski Club)
With its many kilometres of groomed trails, Kawartha Nordic Ski Club in the Township of North Kawartha is a popular destination for both Nordic skiing and snowshoeing. The trails are a brief drive from both Burleigh Falls Inn and Viamede Resort (which also offers cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the adjacent Stony Lake Trails), making it an ideal activity for your next Canadian winter getaway. (Photo: Kawartha Nordic Ski Club)

North of the city, past Burleigh Falls, is the Kawartha Nordic Ski Club (kawarthanordic.ca) where you will find nine kilometres of snowshoe trails and 46 kilometres of cross-country ski trails. If you need equipment, they have rentals available.

Many of Kawartha Land Trust’s trails are also open to the public, even in the winter,

“Kawartha Land Trust has a beautiful mix of properties ranging from mixed forests to wetlands,” says Patricia Wilson, community conservation coordinator with the non-profit land conservation organization. “Most are open for the public to explore and enjoy.”

Advertisement - story continues below

 

 

“If you’re an avid hiker I would highly recommend the Stony Lake Trails,” Wilson adds. “You’ll experience beautiful views of the lake, cross stunning wetlands and forested areas, and encounter open meadow thickets. You may even meet some deer along the way!”

As well as the Stony Lake Trails, you can visit John Earle Chase Memorial Park Trails, the Ballyduff Trails, and Cation Wildlife Preserve.

For those unfamiliar with Kawartha Land Trust, Wilson suggests visiting the protected properties page on the organization’s website at kawarthalandtrust.org for descriptions of each property including access to downloadable maps.

Winter is a great time to find wildlife tracks like these grey squirrel tracks found in GreenUP's Ecology Park. Take a photo and use apps like iNaturalist to help you identify the animal that created them.  (Photo: Karen Halley)
Winter is a great time to find wildlife tracks like these grey squirrel tracks found in GreenUP’s Ecology Park. Take a photo and use apps like iNaturalist to help you identify the animal that created them. (Photo: Karen Halley)

Numerous other organizations maintain natural spaces for our enjoyment. Visit the Otonabee Conservation website (otonabeeconservation.com) and municipal parks and recreation web pages for more local nature destinations.

While exploring our natural areas, please remember that they are home to many wildlife species. Maintain a “leave no trace” ethic by staying on designated trails and leaving nothing behind.

Discarded waste — like dog poop, toilet paper, snack wrappers, disposable masks, and plastic water bottles — can pollute waterways and harm wildlife. While winter snow may hide these things, they do not go away; they resurface again in the spring to do damage.

You can enjoy nature in your own backyard. Attract birds, like this red-breasted nuthatch, by installing a bird feeder. Visit Cornell University's allaboutbirds.org for detailed information on our feathered neighbours. (Photo: Jackie Donaldson)
You can enjoy nature in your own backyard. Attract birds, like this red-breasted nuthatch, by installing a bird feeder. Visit Cornell University’s allaboutbirds.org for detailed information on our feathered neighbours. (Photo: Jackie Donaldson)

Dog poop and human waste are especially harmful. They can contain the illness-causing E. coli bacteria that can make its way into rivers and lakes.

As well as being harmful, waste can take away from the experience of other outdoor enthusiasts. Carry all your waste out with you or dispose of it in a provided garbage receptacle. Use on-site washrooms or wait until you can get to one.

If you’d like to go a step further and give back to our beautiful natural areas, then consider conducting your own garbage clean-up during your outdoor adventure.

Advertisement - story continues below

 

 

The next time you go out for a stroll or a hike, bring medical gloves (or a trash picker) and a garbage bag. If you find waste that is safe to pick up, put it in a bag and take it with you. Dispose of it in a provided public waste receptacle or transport it home to your own garbage bin.

If you can, safely clean recyclable items such as plastic water bottles and beer cans and place them in your blue bin for curbside pickup.

If you find used needles while exploring nature don’t touch them. They are not safe to handle. If they are on public property in the City of Peterborough, contact Public Works at 705-745-1386. If found in Peterborough County, call the OPP at 705-742-0401.

 Red foxes share our urban neighbourhoods. Keep your eyes peeled for their startingly bright red coat as these timid creatures are fast. Learn more about them on inaturalist.org. (Photo: Jackie Donaldson)

Red foxes share our urban neighbourhoods. Keep your eyes peeled for their startingly bright red coat as these timid creatures are fast. Learn more about them on inaturalist.org. (Photo: Jackie Donaldson)

With these suggestions in mind, it’s time to get out there and take in some good old Vitamin N! Go and enjoy the health and wellness benefits of nature while leaving natural areas clear of garbage.

You will feel great, the wildlife will thank you, and fellow trail users will enjoy their walk as you did!

Comments