News / Halifax

'Every step should be an experience': Public weighs in on Blue Mountain trail project

Truman Layton has found a favourite spot in the protected wilderness between Kearney Lake and Timberlea, and is hoping new trails through the area will allow Haligonians to do the same.

Nearly 200 people pored over maps of the Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area during a public meeting Sunday at St. Peter’s Anglican Church to give ideas to planner Garnet McLaughlin and the team behind the project including the Halifax North West Trails Association (HNWTA), Maskwa Aquatic Club, and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.

“The trails that are there are probably not safe for a lot of people,” Layton, 82, said about the existing patchwork of trails around the Aquatic Club and throughout the 1,700 hectares of woods and lakes.

Layton moved to the area in 1974 and said he’s camped dozens of times on Ash Lake where he loved seeing the stars.

“Everybody needs a favourite spot in the world to call their own,” he said.

McLaughlin said he’ll be walking all parts of the unofficial trails and evaluating what “natural assets” like waterfalls or swamps need to be preserved before bring a detailed plan to the community in January.

“Every step should be an experience. It’s not just a matter from point A to point B,” McLaughlin told the crowd.

Some residents suggested connecting to the nearby BLT Rails to Trails, while others asked to keep mountain bikers in mind because they created many of the existing paths.

Bob McDonald of the HNWTA said bikers aren’t part of the plan because there has never been “traditional use” of bikes in the area behind Masawaka where the majority of the trails will be created.

Layton said he hopes better trails will draw more people to the area so there’s more support and love of the wilderness and “we won’t lose it” to development encroaching on the territory.

Wendy McDonald, also of the HNWTA, said finding funds to build the trails is “the next big block,” and there is a feedback survey on bmbcltrails.com.

Easy to lose yourself:

In June, a 50-year-old woman got lost on the trails around Maskwa Aquatic Club and called her son to help, but he also became lost. Police say search and rescue crews found them after midnight, quite a distance apart.

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