Island trails prime for snowshoeing

Mary MacKay
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The P.E.I. 2014 event Uncover the Island: Bike and Hike Tip to Tip, being hosted by Island Trails, is a 360-km bike ride and hike that will take participants from North Cape to the scenic lighthouse of East Point. On Saturday, June 21, participants will start their journey by cycling from North Cape along the Confederation Trail to Alberton. The next Saturday, and every Saturday for the next 14 weeks, participants will cycle or hike a linear route that covers most of the Confederation Trail.
People can join in on any Saturday along the way. This no-cost event runs from June 21 - Sept. 27.
Visit www.islandtrails.ca or email info@islandtrails.ca for more information. Participants can register online.

The grass may always be greener on the other side of this wintery season but there’s still plenty of outdoor adventure to be had.

In fact, it’s prime snowshoeing time on the many woodland trails that are free-to-use all across Prince Edward Island.

“Each trail has its own special flair,” says Susan Norton, secretary of Island Trails, which promotes, develops, and maintains a network of trails in the province, including seven Destination hiking trails that were developed by the organization over the past decade.

That list includes Dromore Woodland Trails, North Cape Nature Trail, Breadalbane Nature Trail, Winter River Trail, Forest Hill Trail, Boughton River Trail and Gairloch Trail.

In terms snowshoeing, a continuous stream of snowshoers basically self-groom the trails after each fresh influx of snow.

“The grooming is basically walking,” says Bryson Guptill, president of Island Trails.

“They’re not groomed by anything other than people; people track them. And certainly in terms of the ones around Charlottetown, people are walking on them quite frequently.”

“It doesn’t take long after a new snow for people to get out and track them, and that makes it easier for other people to come along,” Norton adds.

The Winter River Trail in Suffolk is one of the most used trails because of its close proximity to the capital city.

“It’s very rare to come out here and not see someone on the trail,” Norton says.

There is signage along the trails to guide people through, as well as coloured markers to indicate which portion of the trail they are on.

Trail brochures are also available in a special weatherproof container at each trail entrance that highlight the special features of each. There is a wealth of information online at www.islandtrails.ca, including directions and GPS coordinates to each trailhead and maps of the various trail layouts.

“There are 22 trails that we (list) on our website. In P.E.I. they’re always (on) a mixture of public lands and public/private land. . . ,” Guptill says.

“For many of the trails, we actually built on to trails that have been there for a long time and we’ve added loops and extra portions to them.”

The making of seven Destination trails and construction of the many benches and bridges on the trails was funded by Island Trails, which had federal and provincial partners for those projects.

Membership dues and donations are the funding backbone for the non-profit organization.

There presently 80 members and a membership blitz is planned next month to increase that number.

Starting on June 21 and running through to Sept. 27, Island Trails is hosting a P.E.I. 2014 event called Uncover the Island: Bike and Hike Tip to Tip. This 360-km bike ride and hike will take participants from North Cape to the scenic lighthouse of East Point.

On Saturday, June 21 participants will start their journey by cycling from North Cape along the Confederation Trail to Alberton. The next Saturday, and every Saturday for the next 14 weeks, participants will cycle a linear route that covers most of the Confederation Trail.

“But also mixing in to the (cycling) route will be hikes along these trails,” Guptill says.

“We will cycle to these various trailheads, hike the trail and we doing it for 15 consecutive Saturdays. We will be doing about 30 kilometres a day for the bike part, and then the hikes will be whatever the length of the trail is. Most of them are about six kilometres.”

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Suffolk North Cape

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