Everyone has their own idea of the perfect retirement activities. And active outdoor pursuits are a sound prescription for a healthy, rewarding retirement. Fortunately, Meaford Haven is in the middle of a virtual outdoor playground. Start planning your fun with our guide to outdoor living and active leisure in Meaford.

IN THIS ISSUE:

Hike to your heart’s content
Catch a big one on the Bighead (or on the Bay)
How to discover your inner water baby
Bike the backroads
Golfing guide
Have the best “stay-cation” of your life


Hike to your heart’s content

The crumbled ruins of the old dam loom over the Beaver River (bigheadriver.org)

If you’re looking for a great retirement activity, hiking’s got to be one of the best. And if you’re in Meaford, you can take your pick from a variety of trails offering everything from challenging climbs to easy strolls, with views and vistas of Georgian Bay, rolling hills, dramatic crevasses, steep cliffs, flashing rivers and bucolic fields.

Just a short stroll from Meaford Haven, you’ll find the trailhead of the Trout Hollow Trail. Named for the mill that operated upriver in the mid 1800s (and at one notable point employed John Muir, the famous naturalist and environmentalist), the trail offers mainly easy to moderate hiking with a few difficult steep ridges, as well as some interesting relics of Meaford’s history.

Within a minute of venturing into the woods, all traces of the town disappear, and you can imagine yourself in the wilderness. The 14-kilometre trail winds through dense cedars, lofty open hardwood bush, along the edges of farmers’ fields, and sometimes right along the Bighead River. With access points both in town and at the midway point, as well as nearby roads at various points, you can choose the length of your hike.

One highlight is the ruin of the old turn-of-the-(last)-century hydro dam, whose weathered concrete ruins, like old castle walls, lean over the river and form a small labyrinth. The trail also follows an old millrace to the ruins of an early power station, a few broken walls standing lonely in the woods. The trail also visits the site of the old Trout Hollow Mill and Muir’s cabin.

Other nearby hikes

Georgian Trail
32-kilometre rail to trail system linking Meaford and Collingwood
www.georgiantrail.ca

Trillium Trail
Short easy hike through woodland at Meaford’s Memorial Park

Tom Thomson Trail
Country road and trail system linking Owen Sound and Meaford
www.tomthomsontrail.com

Bruce Trail
The famous trail from Niagara Falls to Tobermory meanders through your backyard with access points just about everywhere you turn.
www.beavervalleybrucetrail.org
www.sydenhambrucetrail.ca


Catch a big one on the Bighead (or on the Bay)

Sunset over the downriggers on a U Catch ‘Em Charter

If fishing’s your thing, you’ve found your dream home in Meaford Haven. A stroll takes you to the banks of the Bighead River, which is known far and wide for its great fishing. According to Fly Fish Ontario (www. flyfishontario.ca), “This river is probably best known for its run of steelhead… in the fall and spring. It is also host to an excellent cold water fishery in its upper reaches… Trout in the upper reaches are plentiful and fat. The lower reaches are well travelled by many fisherman in search of a wild silver trophy during the fall and spring… Many excellent runs offer great drifts for several kilometres along the river and the Rainbows, Browns and Salmon are plentiful when the run is on… Smallmouth Bass also inhabit the river, and a resident population of Browns and Brookies can be found in its upper reaches and tributaries.”

And then there’s Georgian Bay, where from April to October, the salmon, rainbow, lake, steelhead and brown trout swim deeper and grow bigger. If you don’t have your own boat, or a friend with one, check out U Catch ‘Em Charters (www.ucatchemcharters.com/).


How to discover your inner water baby

Sail… paddle… surf… swim… or sunbathe

With its wilful winds and huge expanse, Georgian Bay is a sailor’s delight. Power boaters are no less enchanted, and Meaford Harbour has deep berths for just about any boat. Kayakers and canoeists dip among the waves or ride the Bighead River rapids in the spring and fall.

Hit the beach!
Or if you’d rather relax and swim on the beach, take your pick. For starters,

  • Memorial Park’s sandy stretch is a popular, but quiet and friendly beach, right in town
  • Christie Beach, six kilometres east of Meaford, invites you into a shallow sandy beach off the beaten path.
  • Raper’s Park, in the heart of downtown, offers a children’s playground and a small beach.


Bike the backroads

Set your pace with a wide choice of riding routes

As you drive one of the many scenic roads into Meaford, you can’t help but notice the groups of cyclists in their colourful Lycra jerseys, attacking hills that can take your breath away (literally). If you’re into the harder rides, there’s plenty of those to be found. In just the 30 kilometre stretch from Meaford to Eugenia along Grey Roads 7 and 13, you first climb the 1 kilometre hill out of town, drop and ascend more shorter, steeper climbs (as well as some false flats), and then after descending into the Beaver Valley and through Kimberley, you begin the long climb up the other side again. It’s a great ride, but if you’re into something easier paced, the rolling hills around Meaford offer less strenuous rides and great sights. (Road bike enthusiasts are surprised – and pleased – to discover just how many of the back country roads in the area are well-paved.)

If you prefer something even flatter, the Georgian Trail begins at Meaford Harbour and follows the old Northern Rail line to Collingwood, offering stops at Christie Beach, Lora Bay, Thornbury and Blue Mountain. (And we haven’t even mentioned the mountain biking.)

To begin exploring cycling routes in Meaford start at Jolley’s Alternative Wheels ( www.alternativewheels.com ) and checking out the database of rides.


Golfing guide

Two of our nearby courses made GolfWeek Magazine’s 2011 list for Best Canadian – Modern Courses

If golf’s your game, you need look no further than your “back yard” at Meaford Haven. The Meaford Golf and Country Club opened in 1934, and constant improvements since then have kept it a golfing destination. Now an 18 hole course, it features 14 strategically placed ponds, three natural creeks, naturally rolling terrain, and a newly renovated clubhouse – all just steps from Meaford Haven.

And if you like variety, you don’t need to go far. Within a half hour, you’ll find more than a dozen excellent golf courses, including, to name just a few:

  • Golf Club at Lora Bay
  • Monterra
  • Scenic City
  • Cobble Beach
  • Stone Tree
  • Tomahawk
  • Georgian Bay Club

Have the best “stay-cation” of your life

Zip, hike, and explore at Scenic Caves

Beyond enjoying the activities and natural beauty just outside your door, living at Meaford Haven gives you an inside track on the wealth of local tourism attractions. Since you live nearby, you can plan your visit to avoid the crowds – and you and your guests can be back in time for cocktails at home.

Who needs line-ups?
Canada’s third busiest ski resort is 20 minutes from your door, but with your economical mid-week season’s ski pass for Blue Mountain, you’ll discover the joys of skiing right up to the chair lift after an exhilarating run down the hill. That’s for starters. The resort’s alpine Village is packed with shops, restaurants and pubs for every taste. Take a gondola up to the top for a summer hike or a bird’s eye view of fall colours. Your grandchildren will love the water playground of Plunge! Aquatic Centre, paddling a boat round the pond, or tackling the kid-size climbing wall. And the new Mountain Coaster will thrill the kid in all of us.
www.bluemountain.ca

Scenic Caves Nature Adventure draws visitors from around the world to its ancient crevasses and rock formations, magnificent scenery, Ontario’s longest suspension bridge, the Eco-Adventure Tour with zip-lines and a canopy walk, and much more.
www.sceniccaves.com

Need to wind down after the excitement? Scandinave Spa, near Blue Mountain, offers a true Scandinavian baths experience, with outdoor hot pools, refreshing cold plunges, Finnish saunas and Norwegian steam baths.
www.scandinave.com