I have always loved Hamilton for its proximity to such a large number of natural spaces for hiking and hanging out. Most of these places are easily accessible by city buses or short bike rides. One of the first hiking areas I spent a lot of time exploring was the area around the wetland of Cootes Paradise because it's so close to McMaster. My residence was right next to a trail that led into this beautiful magical space with a network of trails leading to bridges, boardwalks and secret sit-spots along the shore.
I have a soft spot for this particular forest because it is where I kept bumping into Rysio the first few times we met. When we were in university and both lived a lot closer to Cootes Paradise we'd both go walking there with friends who knew each other and we'd chat. Meeting there cemented our friendship and I'm so glad that we have a nice story about how we met.
Some of my favourite things about hiking here (and other places too!): the smell of autumn, even when it's cloudy there seems to be so much light filtering through the trees, watching the forest change, the feeling that you are an adventurer who is exploring the unknown, stumbling upon little mushrooms and creatures, seeing other people having fun outside, playing little games, singing songs and taking a ton of photos.
There are lots of neat animals and birds to see in Cootes: swans, white-tailed deer, fish, herons, rabbits, turtles, beavers and snakes. Of course there are a few fungi too.
It was fun to walk here with a friend from up north because we compared this forest to our own vast boreal forest back home. Being the somewhat nostalgic person that I am, I always gravitate towards coniferous forests and all the other plants and animals that you find there. It's also very unusual for me to see so many people in the same patch of forest. The day we hiked at Princess Point we saw about 75 people! In the more rural parts of northern Ontario it's more likely that you won't see anyone at all, I think I prefer that kind of quiet solitude. This is probably an impossible thing to wish for in a forest next to a city of half a million people!
I'm planning to check out Albion Falls next time I go for a hike. Where do you like to walk outside?