It’s that time of year when the bold colours of autumn can turn an outdoor stroll into a scenic delight. But while most of us thoroughly enjoy a leg stretch on a crisp fall day, many of us don't seem to find the time to do it as often as we’d like.

The trick is to schedule it. And that’s exactly what you can do via Walk Richmond’s Walking Series, a popular—and totally free—guided walking program that runs at least twice a month at locations throughout the city.

Trail and flowers
One of Walk Richmond's routes is through Minoru Park. | Photo: John Lee

What’s it all about?

This popular group-walking program is organized and led by volunteers and members of the Richmond Fitness and Wellness Association. Each walk is around four-to-five kilometres long and typically takes around an hour to complete. The walks are an ideal way to see parts of the city you may not have visited before, and they’re also a great way to meet locals as well as visitors exploring Richmond beyond the usual sites and attractions.

Who are they for?

These sociable guided walks are for people of all ages and fitness levels. They’re not speed walks: everyone strolls at their own pace and no one is left behind. Seniors, couples, individuals, and families are regular participants (strollers/buggies are welcome). Some walks—Sea Island and Shell Road, for example—are also suitable for on-leash dogs.

What are the routes?

The diverse array of walks in 2019 has so far included strolls at Minoru Park, Garry Point Park, the West Dyke, King George Park, McDonald Beach, and many more areas. Upcoming November walks include London Farm on November 2, South Arm Park on November 16, and Railway Greenway Trail on November 30. For a full line-up of upcoming walks and meeting points, click here (a PDF outlining upcoming walks is added seasonally).

London Heritage Farm
Fall is a beautiful time of year to explore the grounds of London Heritage Farm. | Photo: Tourism Richmond

What will I see en route?

It depends which walk you take! Most of the routes are in parks or along forested or shoreline trails—the city’s pioneer and maritime history is also featured on some strolls. You can expect plenty of birdlife on walks at Garry Point and Terra Nova; colourful heritage at London Farm and Burkeville Park; and shoreline panoramas at Finn Slough and the West Dyke.

If you’re a Christmas fan, there’s also a special Steveston walk on December 14 that takes in the village’s twinkling festive sites before concluding with refreshments at the Steveston Community Centre. Looking for an opportunity to wear that tinsel-trimmed elf costume you’ve had in the closet since last year? This is it!

What do I need to bring?

Good footwear for walking is vital, of course, and you should also bring a water bottle with you. Dress in layers and don't forget that this is the time of year when rain jackets are typically required when heading outside. Hats are also a good idea, especially on cold and/or sunny days. Keep in mind that these walks are not weather dependent: they take place even when it’s raining.

What else do I need to know?

You need to arrive at the walk’s meeting spot about 10 minutes before start time. There will be a warm-up (including light stretching) before everyone sets off; there will also be a short cool-down period at the end of the walk. First aid volunteers accompany the group throughout the stroll.

At this time of year, each walk starts at 10:00am and is scheduled on a Saturday. During summer, extra mid-week tours are also added and these often take place in the early evening. Keep in mind that the organizers are always looking for volunteers to help accompany and lead the walks (you can email walking@richmond.ca for more information).

A jogger on the West Dyke Trail
Two of Walk Richmond's routes cover sections of the West Dyke Trail. | Photo: John Lee

Why should I do it?

Aside from the chance to check out parts of the city you might not be familiar with, regular walking is an excellent health and wellness activity. It can help with blood pressure, weight management, muscle tone, and heart and lung efficiency, for example.

For visitors, the walking series is also a good way to explore in a guided environment as well as a useful method for maintaining fitness while you’re travelling. And for locals, scheduling regular Walk Richmond strolls can help keep you on track with your efforts to exercise on a more frequent basis.

I can’t make the dates!

Don't worry. You can also plan your own unguided walks by using the city’s free-to-download Walking Guide Book. Complete with maps, descriptions, and handy parking and transit information, there are 24 walks in the guide—including all of the most popular strolls in the Walk Richmond walking series.

Walk Richmond
A Walk Richmond sign in Minoru Park. | Photo: John Lee