Another step forward in closing the gap!

Big surprise this morning on our Wednesday morning hike, when Midland Ganaraska Hiking Club president Larry Piitz had the notion that we should hike in the Thompson Forest leading to the Tiny Trail (also called Bridges Trail and part of the Trans Canada Trail). Good thing we did as we discovered the beautiful set of stairs built by Tiny Township at our request and leading from the top of the cliff down to the Tiny Trail. 39 steps!!! 

This will become part of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail, as we close the gap between the Midland and Tiny sections of the trail…. hopefully before year end. Just some minor loose ends still to get approved. 

This will add another 16 km approximately to the Midland section of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail.  

First Badge Awarded – 50 Hikes in One Year

Kudos to Diane Reid McConkey for being the first recipient of the new “50 Hikes in 1 Year” badge. Diane is a new hiker, who joined the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. in December 2022, and set herself a goal of doing 50 hikes in 2023… but she already surpassed this goal, and is well on her way to reaching 100 hikes in 1 calendar year. Today, she mentioned that her newfound love for snowshoeing sped up her attempt to reach 50… and 100 hikes in 2023. Well done, Diane! Kudos also to all the other hikers who have already done 50 or 100 hikes this year. 

Awards Night!

At the Annual General Meeting on May 9, the Volunteer and Trail Maintenance Awards were announced for 2023.

Volunteer of the Year – IRENE BELL

This year we recognize Irene Bell for her contributions to the Ganaraska Hiking Trail
Association Inc.

Back in 2014, she and Shirl McArthur formed a 2 women’s team to take over the Club Presidency
of the Wasaga Beach Ganaraska Hiking Trail club, but in the last few years, Irene continued on
her own until 2022.

She not only made sure the Wasaga Beach section of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail was in good
shape, but with her volunteers they created a new route along the Collingwood to Barrie
rail trail. She made sure there was a hiking schedule for members and organized many local
social activities for club members.

As the president of the local Wasaga Beach club, she attended the board meetings of the GHTA
Inc. for the last 9 years and contributed valued input to our discussions. She also acted as the
GHTA rep to Ontario Nature, and as such was GHTA’s sounding board on all things nature

Well done Irene! We herewith would like to show our appreciation by presenting you with the
Volunteer of the Year Award for 2023. Thank you for your past contributions. Irene, we all enjoyed working with you, you are an excellent ambassador for hiking, and we wish
you all the best for the future.

Trail Maintenance Club Award – PINE RIDGE

Following a Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc board decision in the fall of 2022
that the building of bridges is now allowed, the Pine Ridge Club of the Ganaraska Hiking
Trail Association Inc is among the first to implement the new policy and is therefore
being nominated for building new bridges over tributaries of the Ganaraska River:

On December 2, 2022, 5 Pine Ridge Hiking Club members (Jimmy Edwards, Stan
Muldoon, Jay Sherwin, John Ambler and bridge designer Ted Van Netten) installed a
new 20′ bridge between 4th and 5th lines of Hope Township, at km 12, on the property
of Gord and Judy Austin.

A further 2 bridges are currently being built at km 8. This project is being spearheaded
by property owners Bill and Penny Harris with several PRHC members contributing
numerous hours of volunteer labour. We are also appreciative of a $1730 donation from
an anonymous donor to fund the bridge.

Great work, Pine Ridge!

Trailblazers look to close loop of Ganaraska in Penetanguishene

Local hiking association seek North Simcoe permissions to bridge trail gap from Martyrs’ Shrine to Tiny Trail at Conc. 12

by Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association looked to Penetanguishene council recently with a trailblazing request to close the loop at the northern ends of the 500-km trail which nearly loops within Simcoe County.

If you’ve ever wanted to meet modern trailblazers, North Simcoe might have your solution.

Representatives from the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association (GHTA) approached Penetanguishene council during the recent regular meeting, seeking permission to blaze trails through the Midland, Penetanguishene, and Tiny Township areas to attach the unconnected ends of a popular trail system.

GHTA president Frieda Baldwin gave a presentation to council regarding the proposal.

“It’s a hiking trail 500-kilometres long from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay,” Baldwin explained. “It passes through the Peterborough area, Orillia, Barrie, Wasaga Beach, Midland, Penetanguishene, and so on. The trail is maintained by volunteers; there are nine clubs and members of each club maintain the trail.”

The hiking trail originated in the early 1960s for naturalists to enjoy unspoiled lands across the province, and by 1968 the Ganaraska hiking trail was officially opened from Port Hope to Lindsay. Shortly after, more sections were added to the overall coverage.

However, the trail was never fully connected in its Simcoe County portion. The western trail ends at the Tay Shore Trail beside Sainte-Marie among the Hurons outside Midland, while the eastern trail ceases at the Tiny Trail and Conc. 12 E. junction in Tiny Township.

“The purpose of this deputation is to ask permission from the town… to blaze a trail through Penetanguishene. We are not going to build any new trails – we are not asking permission for that – just to blaze the trail,” said Baldwin.

In blazing a trail, path markers measuring two-by-six inches are put onto visible waypoints for the purpose of navigation, whether through paint or by installing material like PVC. Blazes can be found on trees, various posts, bridges, rocks, and hydro poles among the many available options.

For the request, Baldwin offered the preferred off-road route between the Wye River to Tiny Conc. 12 through the following connections: from the Midland waterfront trail to the Mid-Pen link at Murray Rd.; to Thompson Rd. W. over to Thompson Rd. E. and along the multi-use trail; through the Thompson/Martin Valley county forest to Overhead Bridge Rd.; and using a new Kingfisher trail to arrive at the Tiny Trail.

“In 2010, we actually obtained permission from the town of Midland,” Baldwin told council, “but the other municipalities… we were not making much progress.”

Approval for the Tiny Township portion had been previously granted, according to Baldwin, with a $2,500 budget allocation for stairs to the Tiny Trail postponed until 2023. She added that the GHTA had also sought trailblazing permission from Midland council and was waiting for approval.

The request was put forward through Mayor Doug Rawson to the recreation and community services section to be explored by staff for consideration.

The Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association deputation, with slides and further information, can be located on the agenda page of the Town of Penetanguishene website.

Meetings of Penetanguishene council are held on the second Wednesday of each month, and can be watched live on Rogers TV cable 53, or on the Rogers TV website.

Archives of council meetings are located on the Town of Penetanguishene YouTube channel.

The 100 Hikes in 2022 Challenge

Earlier this year, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association president, Frieda Baldwin, launched a Challenge for 2022 to encourage hikers to get out in nature, for their physical and mental health, and to explore new trail locations. Several have taken up the challenge and are posting their sequentially numbered hikes on the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Facebook Group with the hashtag #ghta100hikesin2022. Anyone can participate, and the hike can be anywhere, provided it is at least one hour in duration, and that the name of the trail or location is mentioned, accompanied by one or more nature photos.

Some participants then asked “Do we get a badge for that?”, and the answer is YES! You can order your 100 Hikes in 1 Year badge on the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Merchandise Order Form.

If you have not started counting your hikes, it’s not too late. GHTA Association president Frieda Baldwin completed her 100th hike (in 129 days since January 1), and was the first one to order the 100 Hikes in 1 Year badge. So, who will challenge her?

New Faces on the Executive Team

We have two new additions to our Executive Team – here is a bit of information about them!

Steve Pogue – Secretary

Steve is an outdoor enthusiast and a member of the Wilderness Club. He has a wealth of leadership experience serving as a director of a non-profit corporation and as a municipal councillor. His experience includes board governance, policy, government relations, financial and property management, as well as trail and forest management.

Steve is currently working as a Senior Systems Administrator and thrives on outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, cycling and cross country skiing.

Neil Runnalls – Trail Director/Landowner Relations Director

Neil is a member of the Wilderness Club and past Trail Director for the Wilderness Section. He is also a Certified Hike Leader and is currently leading a group of hikers on an E2E of the entire Ganaraska Hiking Trail. They completed the Pine Ridge and Kawartha sections and are embarking on the Orillia section now.

He is a school principal with the TDSB and has an acreage with horses to look after, and so he is pretty busy, but willing to take on the Trail/Landowner Relations Director job, with the help of the new positions of Signage Coordinator and Mapping Coordinator.

Welcome Steve and Neil to the Executive, and thank you both for your contributions to the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association, Inc.


by Frieda Baldwin, President, Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association, Inc.

I would like to share with the members of the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association Inc. the highlights of today’s Annual General Meeting and Board of Directors meetings:


Stan Muldoon of the Pine Ridge club was awarded the 2022 Volunteer of the Year award for his past involvement on the Executive of the GHTA, as Pine Ridge club President, and for chairing a number of past and current committees. Thankyou Stan!

The Wilderness Club was awarded the 2022 Trail Maintenance award for the completion of the Montgomery Bridge project in the Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands…. a project that has been difficult and long in the making… Thank you to all the volunteers who helped with this project!

(Honourable mention in Trail Maintenance went to the Midland Club for the reroute and additional loops to the Tiny section in the Tiny Marsh). 

No-Man Made Structures policy

In the past, in compliance with our “Minimal Impact” trail maintenance standard we were not allowed to build any man-made structures, such as bridges, boardwalks, etc. (other than styles over fences). We have revisited this policy, and with input from the Nature Conservancy of Canada, decided that it is better for the environment (and for our hikers) to allow man-made structures, provided they are approved by the landowner/agency on whose property the trail is located.

Training reimbursement

Effective today, any new enrolment in “hiking related” new training courses (Certified Hike Leader, Wilderness Hike Leader, First Aid, Chainsaw Operation, etc.) will be reimbursed at 50% (not 75% as before) upon completion of the course, with the other 50% being reimbursed once the individual volunteer provides his/her newly learned skills on 3 outings/events. This change is made for budgeting reasons, but also as we have experienced some investment in training, and then some individuals not “showing up for work”. 

Note: I also wanted to thank all members who have recently taken the Certified Hike Leader (graduation is expected to be next weekend) and First Aid courses. Their reimbursement will still be at the 75% + /25% ratio.


We have re-affirmed our “No Dogs on Group Outings” policy. 

The GHTA is following provincial Covid guidelines and as such no longer requires “full vaccination” status of hike participants. Clubs are expected to follow these guidelines, however, individual hike leaders do have the option to request that participants are vaccinated, provided this is clearly stated in the hike or outing details prior to the event.

However, we need to remain vigilant and therefore social distancing is still recommended, such as mask wearing if within 2 meters, or when carpooling. 

Elections and Appointments

We are delighted that Steve Pogue (member of the Wilderness Club and Barrie resident) has agreed to take on the Secretary position, following Carol Strickland‘s retirement (she will however continue as President of the Orillia club). Steve comes with a wealth of previous board, policy, by-law experience. Welcome Steve!

Simone Latham is staying on as Treasurer, and I as President of the Association. Unfortunately, we are still looking to fill the position of Vice President.

We were also delighted that we were able to find a replacement for John Sloan, as Trail/Landowner Relations Director (John will stay on the board as a Barrie club rep). However, as this job has mushroomed in the last few years, we felt it necessary to split the role into 3 separate functions:

– Neil Runnalls agreed to take on the Trail/Landowner Relations position. This position is also a member of the Executive team.  Neil will be assisted by: 

– Steve Broomfield as Mapping Coordinator

– Dani Shaw as Signage Coordinator

Thank you to all who have stepped up to these positions, as well as any of you who are volunteering for any other roles at the club and board level.


Happy to report that our finances are in very good shape, and we have a healthy balance in our bank account. This is mostly due to:

– funds previously set aside to produce a new set of guidebooks (We are no longer producing and inventorying/shipping guidebooks, now that the Trail Guide is downloadable and maps are continually updated as needed)

– we have seen more member donations since we launched the on-line membership renewal process

– we received a $4,500 grant from the County of Simcoe for our mapping projects

Committee reports

We received a very interesting report from the Indigenous Engagement Committee, and expect to hear more from them by the fall Board meeting. 

The Risk Management Committee has developed:

– new Difficulty Rating for hike descriptions (based on Hike Ontario’s difficulty ratings)

– new Trail Maintenance/Audit report (to be done yearly)

– updated Trail Maintenance Guidelines to reflect the revised No Man-made Structures policy

and they are still working on an update to our Risk Management Protocol. More on this to follow in the coming weeks.

The Mapping Committee successfully launched the new Trail Guide, which consists of downloadable and printable maps and trail descriptions, which complement the Ondago mobile device app. The new Trail Guide has been well received and can be found on our website under The Trail / Trail Sections with Maps. The maps will be updated on an as needed basis, so hikers are encouraged to verify the latest issue of the map (the issue date is at the bottom right corner of the new maps) but also verify that there have not been any recent Trail Changes (also posted on the website).

Ganaraska-logoed wear

Carol Strickland is inviting clubs to send in orders for logoed Ganaraska clothing (Sport shirts, caps, toques, jackets, and neck warmers).  This order process will rely on each participating club having their own Order Administrator whowill collect the order details (preferably on a spreadsheet supplied by Carol Strickland) and the payments, send these to Carol, who will then further coordinate with the supplier.  

 She will be sending out a “catalogue” to interested club presidents shortly. 

100 Hikes in 2022

At the beginning of the year, we announced the #ghta100hikesin2022 Challenge on our Ganaraska Hiking Trail Facebook Group. The initial intention was to encourage physical but also mental health while hiking in nature. Individuals are encouraged to post which hike number they are at, the location of the hike and at least 1 scenery photo. The hike has to be at least 1 hour in duration.  Achieving this goal of 100 hikes in 1 year is certainly do-able as several of the participants in this challenge are already over half of their goal, and it is only end of April. We are therefore developing a “100 Hikes in 1 Year badge” which will be made available via the Merchandise Order form on our website. Details to follow. Meanwhile start hiking and post your hikes on and include the hashtag #ghta100hikesin2022. 

Wilderness Club Award Presentation

This morning in Tudhope Park Orillia the stars aligned (Hike 2 of Wilderness Club in Orillia Section), and Carol Strickland presented the Trails Maintenance Award to the Wilderness Club.  Neil couldn’t be with us today, but accepting for Wilderness was co-leader Dan Myall.  That’s a well-deserved award – hats off to the Wilderness club, especially for that amazing seasonal bridge in QE Wildlands Park.

Volunteer of the Year Award

Some people just keep on giving – and this year we are recognizing Stan Muldoon for being one of those people in the Ganaraska Hiking Trail Association, Inc. 

Stan has been a member of the Pine Ridge Club for years and has served as its President and representative to the Board.   As well, he chaired the 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee – and during that time he prepared and delivered a history of the organization from its inception, bringing recognition to the founding members.  At the 50th Anniversary celebration, Stan also delivered a workshop on stretching, much appreciated by the attendees! 

Stan joined the Executive as Vice President for a few years as well and more recently has stepped up to Chair the new Mapping Committee, as well as the Indigenous Engagement Committee.

Well done Stan – you are a great example to us all – and we want to show our appreciation by presenting you with the Volunteer of the Year Award for 2022.

Trail Maintenance Award

This year’s Trail Maintenance Award is being presented to the Wilderness Club, under the capable leadership of President Rob Halupka, for their outstanding work to provide a floating bridge over Montgomery Creek.  The process took at least a year, with many club members involved with the project, helping in the planning, design, partnering with Parks Ontario, pivoting when something didn’t work, and generally getting the job done!  Installation was on Aug. 26 under the guidance of the Ontario Parks team, and the bridge was in place until late October when as planned, it was removed for the season.  It served the purpose beautifully and was much enjoyed by many hikers.

Without the bridge it was sometimes impossible to get across Montgomery Creek due to fluctuating water levels, making this section of the trail occasionally unusable. 

Well done, Wilderness club.   That will be a tough one to top!