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Discovering the Thames Valley Trail in the time of COVID

People walk and hike for many different reasons. For some, it is a great way to get exercise, and for others it’s a social occasion. With the COVID-19 pandemic, group “social” hikes have stopped. Group hiking will look very different in the future as we continue to observe physical distancing guidelines. 


This however hasn’t stopped people and some of their close family members from seeking out new local trails to explore. Among trails in the region that have remained open or will begin to reopen soon, the Thames Valley Trail (TVT) offers 110 kilometres, connecting the Elgin Trail and the Avon Trail from Delaware through London and on to St. Mary’s. 


Exploring new pathways


In times before the COVID pandemic, hiking was looked at as one of the antidotes to help lower stress levels, improve mood and enhance mental wellbeing. Now more than ever, hiking has become a daily focus for those seeking some relief, both physical and mentally - as long as it is done responsibly.


Jonathan Dagg is one hiker who recently completed the 110 km TVT. He has now earned the Thames Valley End to End Trail badge after providing his full trail record. An End to End Trail badge is available to non members for $5 and members of TVTA receive a badge for free. picture of Thames Valley Trail End to End badge


Having some time off due to COVID, Jonathan came across an online map of some trails in Ontario that he hadn’t heard of before. To his surprise, the Thames Valley Trail was one he hadn’t explored. After hiking it, he now feels that it is a “hidden gem” in the region. 


“There’s no time like the present to hike,” says Jonathan. He currently lives nearby in Elgin County and has resided between Aylmer and Tillsonburg since the early 90’s, raising a family that includes two young daughters.


He is an experienced outdoors person, with a background as a Scout leader. Confident in his ability to tackle the distance of the trail, Jonathan was drawn to the beauty of nature and the relief hiking can provide. He carefully planned out 30 km sections with easy pickup points. He walked fairly non-stop, taking regular lunch and snack breaks, he ended up averaging about 6 hours of moving time with 7 hours total a day.


Hiking in a time of COVID


Thames valley trail signWith concerns many have about outdoor activities, using trails and respecting social distancing, Jonathan never had any issues with those he crossed paths with. 


”With everyone I passed on the trail, people would keep their distance and continue moving.” 


His favourite part of the trail was from Harris Park to the north side of Fanshawe on Thorndale Road. He found the walk throughout the city was surprisingly nice following along the river. 


“I was surprised how beautiful it was throughout London, especially with the urban hiking aspect, sometimes you move faster to avoid urban spots, but you just didn’t feel like someone that was out for a walk, as you were still off the beaten path in the city.”


Jonathan had also not hiked through Fanshawe before and enjoyed it so much that he looks forward to planning a second hike in the future through that section with his brother. He also found the last section from Thorndale to St. Mary’s was particularly well marked, maintained and easy to follow.river along the Thames valley trail


Overall, it was a very positive experience on the Thames Valley Trail. He was impressed because when you think of a hiking trail in Southwestern Ontario, you often picture flat farm fields, but he was blown away by the different landscape and environments the TVTA trail offers. 


You can see more about Jonathan’s outdoor adventures by following him on Instagram at @canadian.outdoor.adventures.


If you go…


  • Remember to please observe physical distancing and guidelines provided by our local health authorities on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Check for trail information including a list of up to date re-routes, maps and more information. 
  • Know your personal ability and plan out sections you can tackle. 


Want to know more or have questions? Our members have a wealth of knowledge among our membership that many would be happy to share. You can always reach out to the Thames Valley Trail Association through our contact information


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Covid Questions

You've got questions.  
We don't have all the answers.  But here's what we can tell you...

Most trails are open.  TVTA does not own any of the land on which our trails run and as such, we do not decide which trails are open or closed.  We encourage hikers to check with landowners before heading out - FanshaweCity of London, UTRCA, etc.   If there is a sign on the trail saying it's closed, it is closed - regardless of what you may have seen or heard before heading out. 

If you are hiking, remember that much of our trails are on privately owned land.  Although we know the majority of hikers are very considerate, we have had some feedback from landowners about inappropriate activities happening on their properties.  Please be respectful of private landowners.  The trails are for hiking only.  If you see any illegal activity on your hike, please report it to the necessary authorities.  If you see maintenance issues such as trees blocking trails, etc. please report it to

If you chose to go for a hike, please review the most recent Provincial and Federal Government guidance before heading out.

Are you feeling isolated?

For many of us, hiking is an important part of our physical and mental health.  So what happens if we can't hike?
If you are feeling isolated, please reach out to friends and family.  Want to talk to someone else?  Reach out to us!  We have gathered a group of volunteers who would love to chat with you by phone.  Send an email with your phone number to and it will be forwarded to one of our volunteers who will phone you back.  If you would like to be one of the volunteers who calls people back, let us know.

We miss you and we miss hiking.  Hopefully we'll be all back on the trails soon.  Until then, take care of yourself and take care of each other.

Happy Hiking.
TVTA Board of Directors

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Is it safe to hike during COVID-19?

If you want to hike, trails are open!


Please keep updated on the latest recommendations from Ontario and Canada and your local Public health officials.

Canada's Covid-19 prevention guidance is here.
Ontario's guidance is here

Please take care of yourselves and others.  If you decide to hike, make sure you leave 6 feet or 2 meters of distance between you and anyone who does not live in your home.

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All Group Hikes are Cancelled until further notice

Following the guidance of our elected officials and Medical professionals, we have cancelled all group hikes until further notice.

Trails are still open and we encourage you to keep hiking for your physical and mental health.


Thank you for your understanding and we look forward to hiking with you again soon.

TVTA Board of Directors

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Trail Reroutes have been updated


We have updated our Trail Re-routes!

The only section of the Thames Valley Trail that currently has a re-route in place is Section 10 - GIbbons Park to Kilally Meadows.


Check it out here


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2020 AGM - Thursday, November 14

Log in to the Member pages for details!

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Hike Ontario Summit - Oct. 18-20 - Register now!

45th Hike Ontario Summit

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It's working again - Login not working

Update:  Aug 27 10:32am


The login is working again.  

What caused the outage?  We changed a password that we didn't realize was required on our website.


Thank you everyone for your patience and we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.  



We are currently experiencing a problem logging into our website.  We have our technical supports looking into the problem and hope to have it resolved soon.


This blog post will be updated when the issues are corrected.


We aplogize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

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New Board Members Still Needed

 New Board Members Still Needed
We are pleased to report that Alex Vanderkam has agreed to stand for President. Mike Robertson will assist the board as past president and as the Comings and Goings Editor. 


That leaves the following positions unfilled: 

  Vice President


  Activities Director

  Public Relations Director


If you are looking for a way to give back to TVTA, please consider applying for any of these roles which may suit you.  Contact Mike at  or any member of the Board.

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Warning: Possible Giant Hogweed on TVTA Trail inside London

This picture of a potential Giant Hogweed plant that was growing along the edge of our trail.  These were very close to the Adelaide St. Bridge, on the south west side of the bridge.
Giant Hogweed is a very dangerous plant.  At this time, we have not confirmed that it is a Giant Hogweed.  It could be another member of the group of Giant Hogweed wannabees. Most of these wannabees are also capable of causing nasty rashes in susceptible people. 
We will be assessing these plants soon.  In the meantime, if you encounter them, stay clear of them.

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Danielle Bruce
June 10, 2020
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Sue Clifford
April 4, 2020
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