5 June, 2024

‘Ask Not What Trails Can Do for You; Ask What You Can Do for Trails’

A scenic forest trail with vibrant red and yellow leaves covering the ground. | Un sentier forestier pittoresque avec des feuilles rouges et jaunes vibrantes recouvrant le sol.

How Nicola Ross supports the Trans Canada Trail

Nicola Ross spends a lot of time outside. She’s penned 12 books and over 200 articles about hiking and the outdoors, including her popular Loops & Lattes series, guidebooks that recommend hikes, walks and tourist attractions in Ontario, often including the Trans Canada Trail.

As an avid outdoorsperson and trail enthusiast, Nicola is no stranger to climate issues facing trails — and the planet in general. She says, “I have a long record of writing about climate change, biodiversity, deforestation, urban sprawl, water pollution and other environmental woes. Surprisingly, my series of Loops & Lattes hiking guides have done more to spark concern about and garner love for nature than my green journalism, for they are read by people from all walks of life.”

Exploring thousands of kilometres of Ontario trails

Ontario Trails featuring diverse trees in vibrant colors on a hillside. | Sentiers de l'Ontario présentant divers arbres aux couleurs vives sur le flanc d'une colline.

When asked about her favourite Trans Canada Trail section, Nicola says, “I hate to play favourites, but undoubtedly, my choice is the section of the Trans Canada Trail that runs through Caledon’s Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, not far from my home. It’s special to me because it’s home. I know this trail like the back of my hand; sunny meadows alive with American orioles, bobolinks and monarch butterflies, each flitting from common milkweed to purple asters to goldenrod make me joyously happy.”

Another new favourite is a section of the partially constructed Credit Valley Trail, which will connect the Credit River’s headwaters to Lake Ontario. This section of the trail will link Alton, where Nicola lives, to the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park. From there, it will tie into a trail network that includes the Trans Canada Trail, Bruce Trail, Oak Ridges Moraine Trail, Caledon Trailway and the Elora Cataract Trailway. “How wonderful that will be,” she says.

Nicola has also spent a substantial amount of time on the 900-kilometre Bruce Trail and has recently written about it. Her book, 40 Days & 40 Hikes: Loving the Bruce Trail One Loop at a Time, was published in April 2024.

A lifelong advocate for trails, including the Trans Canada Trail

A blue Trans Canada Trail sign, set against a backdrop of trees. | Un panneau bleu du Sentier Transcanadien, sur fond d'arbres.

“My new mantra is, ‘Ask not what trails can do for you — ask what you can do for trails,’” Nicola says. She describes her relationship with the Trans Canada Trail as mutually beneficial, adding that she enjoys the Trans Canada Trail and does what she can to promote and raise awareness about it. “I’ve asked [the organization] Trans Canada Trail what I can do to support the Trans Canada Trail! I sell their socks to help raise funds for the Trail. I’ve cycled parts of the Trail and written about it, and I do what I can to raise awareness about this Canadian gem.” She adds, “In response, Trans Canda Trail has been incredibly responsive in helping me help them. It’s a great relationship.”

Nicola sells items through her online store that “add to the public good,” including Trans Canada Trail’s socks created in partnership with Great Canadian Sox Co. Nicola describes the socks as “a perfect fit — literally and figuratively,” adding that the fact that they are merino wool is a big bonus, as are the underfoot sayings. Plus, a portion of the price goes to Trans Canada Trail.

Nicola has also run other promotions benefitting Trans Canada Trail: a donation is given to Trans Canada Trail upon the purchase of one of her Loops & Lattes hiking guides on her website, and she’s done socks giveaways through her newsletter, What’s Not to Hike???? She’s always looking for ways to raise awareness about the Trail.

Protecting what we love, including trails!

Nicola points to a recent instalment of The Walrus Talks — with participation from Trans Canada Trail — as a great resource to discuss the many benefits of trails. “Trails bring many things. They connect communities; they connect people within communities, and they are the main way that people gain access to nature, which, as is now well known, has enormous health benefits,” she says. She adds that the Trans Canada Trail is such a “great Canadian story: a 28,000-kilometre-long trail. Now, that is impressive.”

Thank you, Nicola, for your support

Nicola Ross standing on a mountain, smiling, with a backpack | Nicola Ross debout sur une montagne, souriante, avec un sac à dos.

We send our sincere thanks to Nicola for her support and commitment to the Trans Canada Trail. Learn more about how to support Trans Canada Trail or donate today to help enhance the Trail for everyone across Canada.