Welcome to the WRX Property Group website and blog! After our information-gathering romp through the parks of Kitchener, I’m sure there’s a burning question on some of your minds: what’re Waterloo’s best parks? Waterloo is in many ways a technologically-oriented city, but that doesn’t mean it’s forgotten about the natural world. No, Waterloo has wisely invested in its outdoor areas, so there are many parks, trails, and outdoor activities available for residents to enjoy – no matter where in the city they live. So, let’s get into the list: the Top 5 Parks in Waterloo!
5. Bechtel Park
Bechtel Park is a sprawling green area found in the University Downs neighbourhood of eastern Waterloo, conveniently located off of University Avenue East and an on/off-ramp from the Conestoga Parkway (Highway 85). In its over 100 acres of land, you’ll find multiple indoor and outdoor sports facilities (including the Manulife Financial Soccer and Sports Complex); a fenced-in, leash-free dog park; and beautiful trails that meander through forests, meadows, and wetlands.
4. West-side Trails
As the Waterloo saying goes: the west side is the best side. To be fair, I believe it’s a saying that’s much more common in western Waterloo than eastern Waterloo. But they do have a point: you’ll find many fine neighbourhoods here, as well as some of Waterloo’s best parks. One such treasure is the West-side Trails (located in Clair Hills/Clair Creek Meadows). Located in the massive Forested Hills area (its official name is the much catchier ‘ESPA #19’ – the naming committee really hit that one out of the park), the West-side Trails offer nearly limitless enjoyment. The Forest Hills themselves are incredible: it’s the largest continuous stretch of forest within the city, and throughout this broad swathe of territory, you’ll find countless varieties of flora and fauna, as well as unique terrains. The West-side Trails consist of over 12 kilometers of trails, perfect for walks, hikes, or walks/hikes with a leashed dog. Much of the terrain is earthen (rather than paved) so it’s a nice change from the city sidewalks, whether you have feet or paws.
3. RIM Park
What comes to mind when you imagine a park? Trees, trails, benches, perhaps a babbling brook? What about a massive, multi-level complex filled with the most modern amenities available? RIM Park has some of those features covered – particularly the latter one. The heart of RIM Park is the magnificent Manulife Financial Sportsplex and Healthy Living Centre, which we’ll get into shortly. RIM Park is located in northeast Waterloo, in the Country Squire neighbourhood (near Eastbridge). It’s located right off of University Avenue East, and there’s plenty of parking – it is, after all, 500 acres of space! Though many people come here for the incredible Sportsplex, there are actually quite a bit of beautiful outdoor spaces in RIM Park. There are over 7 kilometers of trails (the lovely Walter Bean Trail passes through here – but more on that later), beautiful green areas, and an extensive assortment of outdoor sports facilities (including multiple multi-use fields, baseball diamonds, sand beach volleyball courts, playgrounds, and more).
The Manulife Financial Sportsplex and Healthy Living Centre has a lot to offer Waterloo residents. With multiple Olympic-sized ice rinks; gymnasiums; shops and amenities; medical facilities; and even banquet and meeting rooms available for rental, this enormous facility is absolutely perfect for Waterloo residents hoping to lead a healthy, active lifestyle.
2. Waterloo Park
Nestled right next to wonderful Uptown Waterloo is the large, equally wonderful Waterloo Park. With over 100 acres of territory, Waterloo Park has plenty of land to explore and enjoy. It has an extensive network of intertwining trails that wind throughout the park itself, and it also features part of the Laurel Trail, which runs from central uptown up through the park to the University of Waterloo. Waterloo Park features beautiful fields and trees, and the sizable, shimmering Silver Lake – a true beauty, which is lovely to look at from the light-lined promenade (or from the fancy Waterloo Park East Gazebo). There are quite a few sports facilities available, too, including: four baseball diamonds, a skatepark, tennis courts, a soccer field, a cricket pitch, and more. Finally, Waterloo Park is very child-friendly, with its precious animal farm (Eby Farmstead), a splash pad, and a playground.
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Waterloo Park is not just one of the nicest parts of Waterloo; it’s also located near several of the parts of Waterloo that make the city so great. As mentioned before, it’s right beside the uptown area, which has trendy shops, restaurants, cafés, and bars, all while being quite easy on the eyes. But Waterloo Park also borders Wilfrid Laurier University to the northeast, and the University of Waterloo campus to the northwest: again, two institutions that make Waterloo an incredible place to live. Finally, Waterloo Park will have its very own LRT stop: the Laurier-Waterloo Park ION stop. This, as well as nearby bus stops, and parking lots nearby throughout Uptown (and a parking lot within the park, accessed off of Westmount Road North) makes Waterloo Park quite easy to get to, too. And believe me, it’s worth visiting!
Just to reiterate: wherever you live in Waterloo, you’ll never be too far from a park. Indeed, it would be hard to find a home that isn’t walking distance away from at least a small park – and even the smaller parks are great to visit. Picking the top 5 Waterloo parks was a challenge, and many fine ones had to be let go (such as Clair Lake Park, which, as the name implies, even has its own little lake!). But one natural area that runs through Waterloo that simply must be mentioned is the Walter Bean Grand River Trail. Simply put, it’s something every resident of the Waterloo Region should check out. As the name implies, this trail runs along the Grand River, starting in southern Kitchener and Cambridge and reaching the northern tip of Waterloo. It offers stunning views of the river, and there are several access points in the northeast of Waterloo (and more in Kitchener).
1. Laurel Creek Conservation Area
If you’ve been here, you’ll understand why it simply had to be a contender for the top spot. It’s massive, it’s beautiful, and it has a little bit of everything (that’s an understatement – it has a lot of everything). In its approximately 300 acres of territory, the Laurel Creek Conservation Area has several ecosystems, including mature forests and wetlands. Because it’s got such a variety of terrain, there are quite a few activities you can take advantage of here. Options include windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, camping, picnicking, swimming at the sandy beach, skiing, snowshoeing, and, of course, hiking. Numerous trails weave their way through the Laurel Creek Conservation Area, several of which lead to the Laurel Creek Nature Centre. The centre offers everything from school programs to Eco-adventure birthday parties. Additionally, the Laurel Creek Look-Out Tower offers stunning views of the area. Two of the main draws to the Laurel Creek Conservation Area are Laurel Creek itself, and the Laurel Creek Reservoir. This large, calm body of water is what enables Waterloo residents to enjoy the long list of aquatic activities I mentioned earlier. Truly, Laurel Creek Conservation Area allows you the perks of city-life, with all the healthy enjoyment of outdoor living right next door. The Laurel Creek Conservation Area is located (fittingly) in the wonderful Laurelwood neighbourhood. Come and explore it – you won’t be disappointed!
Written by Will Kummer