A 20-year-old female hiker from Detriot, Michigan, is preparing to complete a six-week hike along a portion of the Underground Railroad in Canada.

Zwena Gray will be the first Black woman to complete the 559-mile journey since Harriet Tubman’s days of liberating enslaved people.

According to WDET, Gray said she wanted her journey to inspire Black, Indigenous, and people of color to get out into nature.

“I feel like there’s a type of liberation and connection to the environment,” Gray said. “that can provide a sense of joy, freedom, and learning for BIPOC individuals.”

She said her love of the outdoors came from participating in environmental programs, where people of color are rarely represented.

“Being from Detroit, I really wanted to bring that connection to nature to my community,” Gray said. “It’s not only important for Black people to be present in these natural environments, but it’s also important for us to showcase just the freedom and liberation and just ease of existing and these spaces.”

Another goal of the hike, according to the 20-year-old, is to explore the legacy people who escaped enslavement left along the Bruce Trail and in the communities they created.

As she travels, she plans to speak with historians to gain perspective on that history. Gray admitted that going into nature wasn’t a way to get away from technology but a reason to merge the two.

“I think that there’s space for both,” Gray said. “I thought it was important to be able to bring technology in a way that made it accessible for people who can’t necessarily get on the trail with me.”

Gray plans to create and post content while on the trail.

“I’m going to be making natural hair videos, do videos about how do you handle your period in the outdoors,” Gray said. “and even doing fun stuff like tent talks every week for my Instagram, and then I’ll also be having YouTube videos kind of more educational about the historians that I talked to and the areas that I go through — more of a day-to-day thing.”

As Gray states on her fundraising page, she hopes to teach Black people about sustainable practices and “showcase Black joy in nature”!”

“I am passionate about environmental kinship, justice, and adventure, and after completing the trail,” Gray wrote. “I plan to host events for BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Colour) communities.” 

Gray is aiming to raise $7,000 for her #BlackOnTheBruce adventure.

Currently studying at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Gray majors in environmental studies and science and minors in gender and social justice.


Gray plans to use the Bruce Trail as a source of inspiration for her art, writing, and performance. In addition, she will be hiking with a friend the whole length of the trail.

She also plans to share her art, stories, and perhaps even a hike or two at Peterborough, Toronto, and Detroit engagement events.