two large dogs standing on a boardwalk trail in the middle of a forested area as the sun sets

First Day Hike | Maidstone Conservation Area – Windsor/Essex, Ontario

It’s hard to believe that the first day of 2020 is already here! The start not only of a new year but also a new decade, this is your opportunity to move forward with a clean slate and a bright future. While many people worry about how they are going to celebrate on New Years Day, there is one trend among outdoor travellers that focuses on welcoming in the new year in a fresh, positive way – the First Day Hike. Yesterday we kicked off 2020 with our dogs at the Maidstone Conservation Area.

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Each year our social media feeds are flooded with posts about New Year’s resolutions and annual goals. For some, this is focused specifically on their careers and professional lives while others highlight aspects of their personal lives and well-being that they believe could be improved upon. Unfortunately, most of these goals and intentions will be forgotten in just weeks as the buzz surrounding the arrival of the new year fades away. It is for this reason that I have made the personal choice not to focus on setting any resolutions this year (or in years past).

Instead, I have used the new year (and new decade) to kick off a new tradition in our home – the New Year’s bucket list. This isn’t about changing ourselves or our lives. Instead, it’s about identifying things we would like to do or experience and finding the motivation to make it happen.

The first item on my 2020 Bucket List involved a growing tradition among outdoor travellers – I wanted to make a point of starting my year with a First Day Hike. The concept is simple. On New Year’s Day, rather than spending the day sitting indoors in front of the television, hit the trails. It doesn’t matter where you go, just go!

selfie of a young couple with their large dogs while on a hike in a forested area

Rather than travelling to one of the Provincial or National Parks in the area, we opted to take the dogs somewhere local. There are many small trails around the Windsor/Essex area to choose from, but our pack has come to love the Maidstone Conservation Area.

Located not far from Highway 401, this is a great option to stop and stretch your legs if you’re on your way through the Windsor/Essex area. The trail itself is relatively short, estimated by the AllTrails app to be approximately 1.6km. However, the closed-loop design of the trail makes it incredibly easy to length your time out and about by simply repeating the loop once again. Navigating through a wooded area, we regularly see a variety of wildlife including squirrels, birds and even deer. You will also pass the Puce River, adding to the scenery.

The trail itself is well-groomed and cared for. Boardwalks have been installed, improving the accessibility of the trail for everyone. While we generally visit the trail with the dogs, I wouldn’t hesitate to bring my nieces and nephews along (strollers and all).

Whether you live in the Windsor/Essex area or are simply passing through, the Maidstone Conservation Area is a great place for a quick stop, picnic lunch or family outing.

two large dogs standing on a boardwalk trail in the middle of a forested area as the sun sets with the title Maidstone Conservation Area across the top

Did you hit the trails yesterday for a First Day Hike? If so, what trails did you visit? If not, how did you welcome in 2020 in your household?

52 thoughts on “First Day Hike | Maidstone Conservation Area – Windsor/Essex, Ontario”

  1. Going for a walk in nature is so relaxing. It’s actually one of my favorite activities to do! I’m going to try to incorporate more into my weekly life! Thank you for sharing!

    1. It is such a great way to clear your mind, getting out and enjoying the peace and tranquility around us. Having the pups helps us to commit to going regularly.

    1. Isn’t it fun? Sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission to experience the things we want to experience, and this is an easy way to do that

    1. It is such a pretty trail. We go there every couple weeks or so because it’s such a nice trail to take the dogs out on.

  2. I just love the idea of getting outdoors and being one with nature on the first day of the year! I’ve always looked at the New Year as a reset but I’m not big on resolutions – they put too much pressure and extra anxiety that we absolutely don’t need any more of these days! I adore the idea of a Bucket List – it allows you to focus on experiences, the things you’ll look back on with fond memories! I grew up in Ontario myself, there are so many lovely trails – Happy Hiking!

    1. Exactly! I feel like resolutions set most people up to fail, and then when the inevitable challenges do come along it can tear down your self-confidence and sense of self-worth. Why put ourselves through all of that just to follow some buzz trend associated with that time of year? Instead, I’m going to focus on travelling and enjoying life with our pack.

  3. I love your New Years bucket list idea! Resolving to experience new things is such a great way to start off the year! This looks like a great trail and I love that they have built in boardwalks! Hiking is one of my favourite outdoor activities – you’ve inspired me to seek out some of our local trails and get outdoors!

    1. I love that the boardwalks make the trail accessible for everyone including those in wheelchairs, pushing strollers, using walkers, etc. It’s such a pretty space, the perfect opportunity to just get away and enjoy the serenity of nature.

  4. What a great tradition to start, a first day of the year hike. I was one of those people who spent the day on the couch recuperating and watching a Twilight Zone marathon. I did, however, go to the gym in the morning so at least I did something. You are so right about resolutions and goals. They are only worthwhile if you put a plan together to achieve them. Your dogs are adorable and must love the hike as well.

    1. Our pups LOVE hiking which makes it so much easier to stay active ourselves. That’s why we love travelling and camping with them by our side, they enjoy the experience as much as we do (if not more). I definitely think hitting the gym in the morning sets you apart from the majority of people who didn’t do anything active that day 🙂

    1. There is something about being outdoors that genuinely helps me to clear my mind and prepare for whatever life may throw my way.

  5. I love new years resolutions now i need to start making new years bucket list. A great post and love you dog and love your write up and pins. Canada is huge and so many beautiful provincial parks to enjoy.

    1. There are so many incredible places to visit in Canada! We’re genuinely LOVING making our way around the province right now to visit different parks and hiking trails. Eventually I’m sure we’ll extend that beyond the borders of Ontario.

  6. The first-day-of-the-year hike sounds like such an awesome tradition! I love walking, though I lose my balance easily on uneven ground, so a hike in nature isn’t for me.

    1. I’m sure there are some trails that would be perfect for you. The one we did here, for example, is designed to be accessible for everyone. They put the boardwalks in creating a smooth, even surface throughout the path rather than having to maneuver over uneven ground.

    1. Go ahead, I can’t claim credit! First Day Hikes started years ago in the US and have been picked up by many different groups and organizations since 🙂

    1. I can imagine how relaxing that would be – People pay good money to bring sounds like that into their homes while they are readily available for us just outside the door!

  7. I follow a fellow prepper who has made it a point to do this as well. He and his wife go out once a week for a hike, and usually set some goals around that. Like adding additional time the following week, looking for edible plants, or a host of other “prepper” things they can expand on. This post reminded me of that and what a great idea it is to simply get out in nature more often. My husband and I are planning some upcoming hikes as the weather starts to get warmer. I am a big fan of the idea of a bucket list instead of resolutions too. Because you are absolutely right that they will soon be forgotten as quickly as they were made.

    1. There is something so incredible calming about spending time in nature. That’s why so many of my bucket list items are centered specifically around that.

  8. That sounds like such a beautiful walking trail. It’s so nice that you take your dogs along as well. The boardwalks look great too. I’d love to have some nice walking tracks like that nearby.

    1. They’ve done a great job at making it accessible to everyone while still maintaining the integrity of the natural environment

  9. What a wonderful tradition! I saw a bunch of people post pictures on their New Year’s hikes. That trail looks great and I bet your dogs loved the family bonding time.

    1. That’s my favourite part about it, the fact that it encourages people to get out and spend that time as a family

  10. I agree like your idea of the 2020 bucket list instead of a traditional resolution, especially since I stopped doing resolutions because I feel like I can set to do something any time of the year and normally be more successful. Those are some beautiful pictures!

    1. That’s my biggest issue with resolutions – due to the ‘buzz’ around them, people get caught up in the time of year and as a result many people fall short on things that they would normally accomplish any other time of year

    1. It was a great way to kick off 2020 – a tradition that we’re definitely going to carry forward year to year.

  11. I wish I would have seen this post before New Years Day. That seems like a wonderful way to enter in the new year! We don’t do much hiking now, I’m afraid, though it is one of my favorite things to do. For one, the majority of the time it is so hot and muggy in Florida and the mosquitos swarm you as soon as you enter the woods. And there are a lot of pygmy rattlers and coral snakes and I get a bit afraid for my dogs and little kids. I do like to go trail running and we have a place relatively close by. However, I am constantly on guard for the snakes and alligators when you have to cross parts of the marsh areas. We also have wild boars and bears. I haven’t run into a bear but I have an alligator, both pygmy rattler and coral snake, and wild boars. I do miss hiking the Appalachian trail in PA and West Virginia as well as Main.

    1. Have you taken a peek at the AllTrails app? It’s a great resource where hikers can rate and share experiences on the trails all over. This may help you find some trails that are rated as a little safer by others. Another great resources is to find a camping/hiking group in your area. The camping Ontario groups have been a great place to keep track of things like bear activity as that’s a concern in many areas of the province.

  12. I love the idea of a First Day Hike, and I’m honestly jealous of the options you have near you for amazing hikes, but I wouldn’t be able to turn this into a tradition myself. I always run a 6.4k race on New Year’s Eve, so I spent the first day of the decade on the couch with sore legs, hahaha. But who knows, maybe I’ll give it a shot next year, if my legs don’t protest too much!

    x Envy

    1. That sounds like a VERY good reason not to get out hiking on New Years Day lol! However, I would say it’s a similar tradition just with a twist – yours is a day early and you were running instead of hiking. Either way, you were getting out and getting active which is the ultimate goal.

  13. We took Hugo for a long beach walk on New Years Day, little guy loved it. This sounds like a wonderful way to start the year. And looking at your photos I’m a little jealous that I’ve only seen snow once so far this winter x


  14. This looks like fun! Nothing like going for walk in nature (minus doggo for now). Still.. it is wonderful to be able to go to such places and just enjoy the moment.

  15. This is such a great way to bring in the New Year. I love how pretty everything looks in your photos, especially the little flutter of snow on the ground. We spent New Years Day having a roast dinner, followed by card games, and Doctor Who.

    1. We were lucky that we had enough snow to look like winter (it’s been rather green down here this year) while still avoiding any major snow storms lol

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