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Coping: Out of hibernation and into the outdoors, but safely

It’s that time of year, when Sudburians peak heads outside in hopes of spring; be safe on the trails with a few tips from Rainbow Routes
100322_CopingRainbow Routes
Spring trails are beautiful, but require extra care for safety, and sustainability. (Rainbow Routes)

With the days getting longer and a spring forward this weekend, it feels like Sudbury is waking up, with the promise of spring at our fingertips. Well, at our fingertips and then buried under six inches of snow in May, and then at our fingertips. You get the picture.

But with the promise of spring comes the pull to get outside after months of hibernation, made worse by the lingering pandemic. Outdoors has always been a respite, even at the worst of the last two years; whatever we wanted to do, it was always safer to do so outdoors.  

The Rainbow Routes Association (RRA) is a not-for-profit in Greater Sudbury with a focus on  encouraging “health, adventure, connection to nature,” and to promote and enhance the more than 30 wilderness and urban trails in the RRA trail network.

But as any Sudburian knows, the spring is not always conducive to walking in the bush. It can be wet and mucky, but also, this precious time holds a bug-free window. 

So asked Dan Barrette, executive director of the RRA, for a few tips for ensuring you’re safe, and so are the trails. 

A note, however, about use of the trails in the off season: Nov. 1 to May 1.

“The non-motorized trail system is maintained from May through October,” said the City of Greater Sudbury in a statement. “Recreational trails are not inspected or maintained at this time of year. People who use these trails in the off-season would be using them at their own risk. Signs indicating this are posted at all of our trails. The City does not encourage off-season trail use.”

Instead, they encourage use of the “Outdoor rinks, Queen’s Athletic Skating Oval, Ramsey Lake Skating Path and ski hills” which, weather permitting, are open to the public.

Barrette advises caution around flowing water, low and potentially slippery areas.  

“Upland routes that have more sun exposure, are high in elevation and in Sudbury, generally rocky, are good bets,” said Barrette. “A ‘shorty but goodie’ would be the Blueberry Hill or the Oak Forest Trails. A short hike up the Blueberry trail will get you to the gazebo that overlooks Sudbury hilly terrains thawing out.”  

Likewise, he said, flat hard-packed trails like the Rotary Trail or the Trans-Canada Trail from the BioSki Cottage to Moonlight Beach might be in good condition, but can also become slippery at times.

His advice is to change up your hiking style and get scrambling.

“Look for higher rocky elevation trails where you can enjoy a different type of hiking known as scrambling. We have an abundance of incredible rock outcrops in Sudbury to explore with some fitness opportunities and scenic views.”

Barrette advises staying on the well-used portion of the trail. 

“If you step off the packed section, you're bound to meet some knee-deep snow,” he said. “People should also avoid walking or cycling on muddy trails which will rut the trails and spur future erosion. Watch out for ice and hidden wet spots under snow.”

He said, in his opinion, the best thing about the RRA trail network is that there are so many trails to choose from. “One can easily find urban type walks sprinkled with natural spaces or go a bit deeper into more rural type trails that give you a feel for being sunk into the wilderness,” said Barrette.  

“Our wide reaching and dense trail network make for an equitable city.  Everyone has the chance to explore our trails, whether it's to enjoy nature's stillness, for recreational leisure, or to get to destinations."
You can find more trail information on the Rainbow Routes Association website, found here.

Coping is made possible by the Community Leadership Program.

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Jenny Lamothe

About the Author: Jenny Lamothe

Jenny Lamothe is a reporter with She covers the diverse communities of Sudbury, especially the vulnerable or marginalized.
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