More than 100 volunteers have helped clear hiking trails on PEI after Hurricane Fiona toppled tangles of trees leaving obstacles all over popular footpaths. Government and other paid workers have also chipped away at clearing trails. Those efforts have paid off.

The Confederation Trail is clear and open across the province. Half of approximately 100 kilometres of other public-use hiking trails in eastern PEI are open too.

“I’m really amazed at the work volunteers have been able to achieve,” said John Jamieson, president of Island Trails, the not-for-profit organization that maintains a few major trails in Kings County and across the Island.

In Kings County volunteers have successfully cleared the entire 15 km Cardigan River Trail, 9 km Boughton River Nature Trail, 7 km Gairloch Road Trail in Belle River, and five of 9 km of the Beck Trail just outside Murray River. The 4 km Harvey Moore Wildlife Sanctuary Trail in Milltown Cross is clear with upgraded features. 

The Department of Forestry and Wildlife cleaned up the 2 km Auburn Demo Woodlot Trail near Fort Augustus and the 3 km Valleyfield Demo Woodlot Trail and are ready for use.

Cycle PEI has blazed a path to offer a total of 5 km of open trail in Brudenell River Provincial Park but so far just for hikers.

In the PEI National Park three trails in the Greenwich area are open amounting to 10 km. This includes the floating boardwalk over Bowley Pond. However, both beach access points are closed due to damaged infrastructure. The large staircase leading down from an elevated boardwalk over the dunes to the beach was damaged.

Despite tremendous efforts from volunteers and various organizations, Mr Jamieson noted  there is still lots of work to do on trails managed by Island Trails across the province.

Of the 12 km Dromore Woodland Trails only a few kilometres are cleared. The 13 km Forest Hill Trail has not been cleared nor has the 7 km Selkirk Trail. MacPhail Woods Trails has two to three kms open.

“The damage on these trails was extensive and it’s just too much to ask of volunteers,” said Mr Jamieson, who is working on securing funding from Red Cross and possibly ACOA to hire contractors to clean up the remaining trails managed by Island Trails.

Many trails aren’t accessible by motorized vehicles and clearing the tangle of trees in some locations can be dangerous even for volunteers with chainsaw training and gear. 

 “The last thing we want is for someone to get hurt,” he said.

While contractors to complete tree work are in high demand Mr Jamieson is hopeful the remainder of Island trails will be open in coming months. He advises people to exercise caution even on trails that have been cleared. There are still many standing trees that have been compromised by Fiona which could present a risk to hikers, especially on windy days. 

Jordan Bober of Georgetown is president of Cycle PEI. He is particularly appreciative that the Cardigan Trail is already open for use and other popular cycling trails such as Gairloch and a portion of the Beck Trail are open.

While trails like Gairloch and the Beck Trail are cleared for hikers it could take some additional work to make them safe for bikers who may need broader and taller clearance. 

Mr Bober suggests biking on trails with caution and to wait until the mud has dried to prevent serious ruts.

By Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 31, 2023 at 08:06

This item reprinted with permission from   The Eastern Graphic   Montague, Prince Edward Island
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