THUNDER BAY -- Thunder Bay and the surrounding areas are full of hiking trails, but if you feel like you’re always going to the same places, it might be time to join the Thunder Bay Hiking Association.
Founded in 1984, the volunteer-run group usually organizes outings twice a week; once on a weekday and once on the weekend. Most outings are half-day or full-day hikes, but the organization has done canoeing, kayaking, snow shoeing and cross country skiing as well.
Many hikes are in the Thunder Bay Area, but some are in Nipigon, Rossport, Schreiber or Terrace Bay. Before pandemic border restrictions set in, there were hikes in Minnesota as well.
Peter Summers, a volunteer board member, has been involved with the TBHA for 25 or 30 years now, he says. “We’re very well organized,” he says of the organization. On the TBHA’s website, you can find a calendar of events, and each outing lists distance, time, difficulty, and also suggestions for things to bring, such as lunch.
“The really good thing about our club is that we have a hike leader. The hike leader has done the hike before, and knows the good spots to have a break, or a nice lookout for lunch,” he says. Hike leaders usually come from their own members, who have taken the hike leader training course, which the TBHA also organizes. On hikes, there is always a “sweep” at the back, so that no one gets lost or left behind. The hike leader also has a GPS locator for emergencies.
Currently the TBHA has about 200 members, many of whom are in their 40s or older, according to Summers. Membership costs $25 for individuals, and only $35 for families. Anyone can register as a member online, but Summers suggests people sign up at the annual general meeting on September 20 (6 pm, Westminster Church.) Those who register on that day will have valid membership until the end of 2023. (Memberships are usually for the calendar year.)
Once people join the club and make friends, Summers says it’s not uncommon for people to strike up friendships and car pool to get to hiking locations. The club even posts a suggested gas contribution for people who car pool. “Most people who join our crowd are environmentally conscious, and care about the environment,” he adds.
He says the TBHA is a great club to join for newcomers to the area. “There’s a lot of beautiful scenery and you will learn a lot about the area,” he explains. He has been a member for decades, but there are still trails he hasn’t been on, he says.
Summers hopes to lead a few hikes himself in the fall, possibly some in Minnesota again. Fall is a great time to hike, he says, with fewer bugs and cooler weather. “We have a lot of really nice scenery, every season is nice, but fall has really nice colours. A number of trails that we go on are near Lake Superior, where you can get nice views,” he says.