Stephanie Mayo is a travel blogger with a simple mission: she wants Canadians to get outside and explore more. Her blog, “The World As I See It”, recounts stories about and recommends a variety of adventures, such as Canadian day trips, hiking adventures and international travel destinations. About five years ago, Stephanie started exploring The Great Trail in earnest. One of her favourite things to do while she is not travelling is getting out and exploring the leg of The Great Trail that is closest to her home. She’s also visited sections of the Trail in Northern Ontario, including the Kabeyun Trail, which leads to the famous Sleeping Giant rock formation near Thunder Bay, and an urban section of the Trail in Montreal.
Thornton-Cookstown Trail is “a very Zen place”
Stephanie’s go-to section of The Great Trail is the Thornton-Cookstown Trail in central Ontario. She found it when she was looking for a spot to go to that was close to home, and she was pleased to discover the Trail is less than a 10-minute drive from where she lives. That was the start of her infatuation, which has been ongoing for the past five years. “I was totally surprised by the Thornton-Cookstown Trail,” she says. “There were not a lot of people on it at that time, and it was a very Zen place with the city all around it. I fell in love right away.”
Stephanie traverses the section that spans farmland and forest through all seasons, and has seen a lot of wildlife in her travels, including coyotes, garter snakes and several bird species she hasn’t seen anywhere else.
She’s been happy to see more people using this section of the Trail in the past couple of years, especially families and cyclists. Her favourite part is the southern section closest to Cookstown, where old rail bridges cross over the river a half dozen times.
More Trail adventures in Ontario and Quebec
Stephanie did a road trip to Thunder Bay, Ontario for Canada 150, with the highlight being a hike to the Sleeping Giant, a formation consisting of flat-topped hills, which looks like a giant lying on its back when viewed from Thunder Bay. The trail she chose to take to get the best views of Sleeping Giant, the Kabeyun Trail, is a part of The Great Trail.
In 2018, she also explored a section of the Trail while visiting Montreal. “It was fun to do a city walk as opposed to being out in the woods,” she recalls. “Yet, I was still on the Trail and connected to the rest of Canada.”
Grateful for being connected to Canadians and nature
Stephanie has a ritual of going out for a hike on the Thornton-Cookstown section of the Trail every Thanksgiving. “The Trail is so different everywhere you go. It makes me feel like I’m connecting with Canada and with Canadians, and I love that most people have such close access to it. My Thanksgiving hike is a [way of saying] thanks to nature – and a [way of saying] thanks to Canada.”