Walking your city is a big part of understanding it. We’ve come a long way since before the internet, and mapping and street image captures have helped us understand a little bit of the places we’ve never been. But you need a first hand look to gain a deeper understanding, and get into the nooks, crannies and the details that the internet seldom reaches.
Even my walks are the tip of an iceberg.
Get out and explore your local metroscapes. Use my website as inspiration.
Explore Walks in Your City
Planning / Documenting
Maps have been very beneficial to planning and documenting my walks. I primarily use either Google My Maps or MapHub. This can help with wayfinding when you’re out and about, ensure you keep the length of your walk manageable, help you identify specific points or shortcuts to take, and help you remember where you actually went.
Using certain resources can help you discover lots of what has been lost to history, or is hidden and tucked away. I highly recommend checking out historical aerial imagery to find past features that have been lost, as well as current municipal GIS maps to identify public lands and easements.
If you are into doing further analysis, you need a way to enter, formulate and display your data. A spreadsheet application, such as Google Sheets, can help you take a lot of raw data, and create summary tables that provide stats, and can be shared and updated automatically on a website. Even if it’s as simple as counting certain elements of your data, a simple formula can provide a ton of insight. Stop counting beans, and start making stats.
Exploring your local metroscapes should be a sustainable matter. I encourage using transit to get to and from a walk by planning to start / end at local transit stops, where possible.
Brings snacks and/or a meal. This can either be something you can eat out of tupperware along the way, or picking a local restaurant on your route. I recommend at least two things you can eat with your hands: something with protein, and something with some sugars; the former can fill you up and satiate your hunger, and the latter can give you an energy boost if/when you hit a wall of fatigue. My personal favourite snacks are crackers with peanut butter, as well as clementines.
Staying hydrated is important for your muscles on a hike, so make sure you take water with you during your trip, regardless of whether it is hot or cold. I like to start off my walks with a mug of coffee, but still need water along the way.
Going to the bathroom can be a tricky affair to plan. Just like food, I would try to identify potential bathroom breaks along your walk.
Respect private property. As for public spaces, no trespassing signs and/or fencing should be your indicator that you should not enter.
Make sure your walks are safe and geared to your abilities; and don’t put yourself in danger. This includes staying away from cliff edges and eroding banks / bluffs. Also use caution near waterways during and after major rainfall or ice melting / ice jam events. Monitor warnings from your local conservation authority and municipality, and heed any signs that restrict access due to hazardous conditions.