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Survey Results & Outcomes

We recently distributed a survey to many members of the trail and hiking community. This survey was sent in order to receive information on how we can make trails a better and safer experiences for users and operators. We received considerable feedback on various issues and we will be reviewing the best approaches to deal with these issues. Thanks to all those who took the time to complete the “Trail User” or the “Trail Operator” Surveys. Some of the issues that were identified include:

 

Number of Trails in Saskatchewan

Issue: Many people indicated that Saskatchewan does not have an adequate number of trails. This could also be due to lack of knowledge of current trails. Walking and running are leading for use of trails but just barely, snowmobiling, ATVing, skiing, and cycling all follow very close behind.

Outcome: We would all love more trails in Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, it is a long and expensive process to build new trails and continue to maintain them. We are working on building new trails in the future, as well as reopening and maintaining current trails, but we also want to focus on educating the trail community on all of the currently operational trails. The survey showed mixed results to where new trails should be made, but there was a consensus that new trails and methods to find new trails should be made. We have been promoting the STA’s trail directory and other sources to find trails on social media as well as the blog and newsletter. One person suggested “The park could sponsor family biking days, where local bike shops take groups out for training rides.” This could work if more trail directors ran event days to spread awareness about trails like Meewasin does. Diversity in the trails is required, both longer day trails and short trails requested with varying difficulty.

 

Safety

Issue: For the most part, the majority of survey takers felt safe on the trails, the few whom didn’t suggesting culling wild hogs, more shelters in Prince Albert National Park, and drinking and driving checks for snowmobilers and ATVers.

Outcome: We will be looking into the possibilities of finding solutions for these problems as well as educating trail users on how to avoid these issues to begin with!

Signage

Issue: The general consensus on signage was that it is all right and is somewhat adequate. Many commented they would like more signage, maps, and signs to show Point of Interests (POIs) on their journey. Most people search for trails using internet and word of mouth with few using trail guides or apps. There should be more promotion of the STA’s trail directory and resources blog as people will find it easier to access the info they are looking for. The info people want to know about parks is their location, condition reports, maps, snow condition, and trail descriptions.

Outcome: We will continue to promote information like trail locations, reports, maps, and descriptions as well as working with trail operators and various trails to improve signage and make them aware of the issues in order to better solve these issues.

ATV Use

Issue: There seems to be disagreement between two groups of people in regard to ATV use. One side argues there are not enough ATV trails and information while others argue that ATVers wreck the trails, are dangerous and don’t respect the land. Drinking and riding laws and enforcement was also brought up multiple times.

Outcome: This is a difficult issue to address. Many people have suggested various plans or ideas to fix this problem. Currently, we are gathering more information and opinions in order to see all points of view and do what we can to address this particular issue.

 

Maintenance

Issue: Many trail users pointed out that there are trails that are not being maintained whether the damage be from ATVs, weather, litter, or just usage. The lack of maintenance makes these trails less enjoyable, more difficult to use, or completely unusable.

Outcome: Maintenance is a large job. Many trails rely on user groups and volunteers to clean up and assist in maintaining the trails. This is an issue that is directly linked to trail budgets and that we will be further looking into and discussing with trail operators to find a solution for.

 

Leave No Trace

One survey respondent recommended it would be nice to see Saskatchewan adopt the Leave No Trace principles on all their trails. www.leavenotrace.ca. This could potentially decrease some of the maintenance issues.

 

Outcome: We also want to learn more about any possible ways to improve the quality of Saskatchewan trails so we will be looking further into these possibilities.

Amenities

Issue: Lack of amenities was something that appeared a few times in the survey. Lack of washrooms and garbage cans often create unneeded waste being disposed of on the trails. This creates a larger need for trail maintenance which is already lacking. Amenities such as washrooms, garbage and shelters would alleviate some of the issues trail users are having and make it easier to hold various events.

Outcome: We will be reviewing these findings to determine the best steps to do what we can to address this issue. In the future we are looking at growing the amenities at various trails to help keep trails clean and promote events.

 

Operator Concerns

Issue: Trail operators have some concerns and issues including maintenance, budgeting, and consistent grants. We also heard about the difficulties being faced and potential fixes to some of the problems.

Outcome: We will be taking in this info for further evaluation and continuing discussion with trail operators on how we can find solutions to these issue and better work together with the community to improve the trails throughout Saskatchewan.

 

Conclusion

The one thing everybody seemed to agree on was that they enjoyed using trails and trails are a great activity for groups and families! We are working on taking all of the info we received from you and using it to identify the largest issues and the best plans of attack to combat these issues. Thanks to your help, we are hopefully going to be able to make the trails a greater experience for all users. We love to see trail users out on the trail enjoying their time in nature and soaking up everything trails have to offer. Keep it up and trail on!

 

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Hiking The Trails And The Health Benefits!

There are trails to accommodate anyone, with trail ranging from a calm walk in the park to trails with steep inclines and obstacles. Regardless of your athletic ability’s or skills, anyone can enjoy nature on the trails. Not only are trails a fun and exciting way to spend time outdoors but there are also many health benefits such as:

  • Lower your risk of heart disease
  • Improve your blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  • Boost bone density, since walking is a weight-bearing exercise
  • Build strength in your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and the muscles in your hips and lower legs
  • Strengthen your core
  • Improve balance
  • Help control your weight
  • Boost your mood
  • Combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety
  • Increased energy levels
  • Improve mental health

This weekend try out a new trail and see where the path takes you while enjoying nature and all of the positive benefits hiking can have in your life! Find the trail that fits you best and recharge your mind, body and soul! Remember while out on your hike to take lots of pictures of your favorite trails and spot to share with us on social media using #SaskTrailsPhotoContest for your chance to win a great prize! Don’t know where the trails are? Checkout our blog: https://sasktrails.ca/how-to-find-trails-in-saskatchewan/!

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Tips and Tricks for Beginner Hikers

Gear Up!

Before jumping onto a trail and getting your adventure on, there are some key items you should have. These items can help you be prepared if anything happens or just make your hike more enjoyable! All of these items can help you be prepared for whatever you encounter:

 

  • Comfortable Backpack- Ensuring your backpack has room to fit all of your needs but not too clunky or uncomfortable. You backpack is with you the whole hike, it’s the last thing you need holding you back.
  • Good Footwear- A good pair of hiking shoes or boots can make a large difference on your comfort, feet, and safety on any trail
  • Snacks/Water- Healthy snacks can help maintain your energy level and are always good to have if you get lost
  • Light device- When hikes last longer than anticipated and the sun sets sooner then you thought, it is good to have a source of light with you
  • First-Aid Supplies- You can never be too careful
  • Phone or GPS- Phones and GPS can have downloaded maps and various apps to aid your travels
  • Hat- A hat on a hot day is important to avoid heat stroke
  • Sunscreen, Bug Spray, Bear Spray- Repellent are great to avoid unwanted pests like mosquitoes, bears and harmful UV rays
  • Camera- Lastly, a camera is a great way to capture great memory’s and scenic views to save and look back on. You can also enter your photos on social media to win a $200 prize pack, for more info check out: https://sasktrails.ca/2019-give-us-your-best-shot-photo-contest/!

You may not need everything on this list depending on when and where you plan on going but it never hurts to be prepared! This basic gear will help you take on any trail you encounter!

 

Ease Yourself In!

Everyone knows trails can be a ton of fun. Longer more difficult trails can make for even more fun. Before jumping into a full day trail with both feet, try attempting a few entry level paths or trails. Many people assume because we are in Saskatchewan that all trails are just flat, but many trails have steep elevation and varying terrain to hike. Trail difficulties, distances, pictures, and more info can be found through the online resources found here: https://sasktrails.ca/best-online-trail-resources-to-checkout-before-your-next-hike/. Apps and websites like AllTrails, Trail Forks, or Saskatchewan Trails Directory can give you an idea of what you are walking into before you even start!

 

Research Your Trail!

Know the trail! There are a ton of different resources a beginner hiker can use to help navigate their expedition. Unfortunately, you can not always rely on the on-site maps to be there when you get lost. Fortunately, there are apps and websites that you can use to gauge the difficulty, distance, points of interest, and even download maps that you can use without an internet connection. Nobody expects to get lost but, in an emergency, these resources can be a life saver! You can find some online resources to aid in your research here: https://sasktrails.ca/best-online-trail-resources-to-checkout-before-your-next-hike/. These tools allow you to know exactly what’s going on in the world of trails and what you need to know to be prepared for your adventure!

 

Water, Water, Water!

Before, during, and after exploring a trail, water is your best friend. The importance of hydration is often overlooked, but without water your body cannot perform at its highest level. During a hike, especially on a hot day where you are perspiration, water is needed in order to maintain endurance, lubricate joints, avoid heatstroke, and control your internal temperature. Water helps your body to transport nutrients and give you more energy! Make sure to drink a few bottles of water before your trail, bring plenty water with on your trail, and drink some more afterwards!

 

Bring a Friend!

Not only does bringing a friend reduce the chances of an accident or dangers, bringing friends or family make a hike so much more enjoyable! Getting lost or finding yourself in a tricky situation can be aided by bringing a few people along with. A friend can help you feel more secure on the trails as well as add extra knowledge on different potential dangers. Joining a trail group is always an option too, trail groups are a great way to meet new hiking friends and learn lots!

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How To Find Trails In Saskatchewan!!!

The biggest question we seem to keep getting is “where are all the trails located?” We want to help you learn more about trails in Saskatchewan near you, how to get there, and what to expect when you do get there! We put together a few ways to find new adventures, learn more about your local trials and see a few beautiful pictures of what awaits you on these trails!

 

  • SASKATCHEWAN TRAILS ASSOCIATION DIRECTORY – The trail directory was created by us, the Saskatchewan Trails Association and allows you to learn about new trails to experience, trail locations, difficulty, and length. Don’t know where to go, or unsure of where to start your hiking experience? The trail directory can help you get from point A to point B on your journey to experience nature on the trails. As well as having an in-depth directory of different trails, the STA directory also holds many stunning photographs of the trails and describes exactly what to expect. We are doing our best to constantly update our directory to offer you the best one stop resource for trails in Saskatchewan! The STA directory is a great place to start to learn about some of the greatest local trails. You can visit the STA’s directory at: https://sasktrails.ca/trail-directory/.

 

  • ALLTRAILS – AllTrails is one of the highest rated and used trail apps on the market. AllTrailshelps people explore the outdoors with the largest collection of detailed, hand-curated trail maps as well as trail reviews and photos crowdsourced from a community of 10 million registered hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners. AllTrails has a beautiful collection of photography taken from different trails to give you a snippet of the wonders that await on whichever path you choose to navigate. This app is especially useful for providing you with a huge amount of information on all the diverse trails around Saskatchewan, it even tracks your hikes for you. AllTrails has 88 great hiking trails, trail running trails, mountain biking trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Whether you’re looking for the best trails in Prince Albert National Park of Canada or around Maple Creek, Prince Albert National Park or North Battleford we’ve got you covered. For some great local park options, check out Eb’s Cross-Country Ski Trails. Just looking to take a quick stroll? AllTrails has got 52 easy trails in Saskatchewan ranging from 0.7 to 16.1 miles and from 1,213 to 4,255 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you’ll be out on the trail in no time! AllTrails has more than your average trail website or app and has valuable resources for even the most experienced of hikers. You can download the AllTrails app or find it at: https://www.alltrails.com/.

 

 

  • TOURISM SASKATCHEWAN.COM– Tourism Saskatchewan doesn’t have the most trails but has a huge selection of the best location around Saskatchewan to do various activities such as hiking, fishing, snowshoeing, biking, ATVing, bird watching, picnic areas, and boat launches. Check out TourismSaskatchewan.com before your next trail, checkout reviews, and see if there are any other activities that are close by the trail. Find Tourism Saskatchewan at: https://www.tourismsaskatchewan.com/things-to-do/outdoor-activities/trails#sort=relevancy.

 

  • TRAIL FORKS – Trail Forks is website and app built by trail enthusiasts, for trail enthusiasts. Trail Forks focuses on mountain bikers but still has a plethora of useful reports for those who prefer to walk the trails. Trail Forks is an extremely useful tool for every hiker to check before their expedition on the trails. Trail Fork is much like other trail and hiking apps, but it allows users to create reports on various dangers or problems with certain trails and things to know/avoid before going out. In depth trail analysis and information is given by the community so hikers know exactly what they are walking into. From new trails, to trail updates, to whether forecasts, Trail Forks can make sure you avoid any potential dangers. You can download the Trail Forks app or visit the website at: https://www.trailforks.com/.

 

  • SASKHIKER.COM– SaskHiker is a Saskatchewan based community website created by hiking enthusiast Jay Brown from Saskatchewan. SaskHiker allows you to find trails, read/post blogs, and submit your favorite trails/locations to go for an adventure to. This is a strong community of passionate people who love getting out into nature. You can even find others to go on adventures with. You can visit SaskHiker at: https://www.saskhiker.com/. You can also follow SaskHiker on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for great posts on everything about Hiking in Saskatchewan!

 

The websites and apps can help you find the trail that best suits you! Never let the possibility of getting lost stop you from experiencing mother nature on your next adventure. These resources give you all the tools you need to strap up your boots and get out on the trails! Don’t forget to take lots of pictures and share your experiences with us using #SaskTrailsPhotoContest! More trail and hiking resources can be found here: https://sasktrails.ca/best-online-trail-resources-to-checkout-before-your-next-hike/! Stay tuned to our blog for more upcoming posts with tips and tricks to keep you safe and happy while on the trail!

 

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The Mystery of Fairy Hill Trail!

My obsession with Fairy Hill Trail continues. To understand that, you need to know how it started.  I heard about this trail that is supposed to be down the valley from our place called the Fairy Hill Hiking Trail.  I ran there last summer but somehow missed the start point of the trail. I did find a Fairy Hill sign, I knew I was in the right area so I took off running through the grass in search of a trail.

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A side trip bushwhacking down a fence line resulted in a few cuts, scratches and expletives but no trail.

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I did find the no longer used overgrown highway # 6 and while I didn’t know it at the time, I actually ran past the trail as I travelled down this old road.

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Which brings us to yesterday. I was off on another long run and ended up at Fairy Hill once again. This time, I was determined to find the trail. I checked a different corner of the property and low and behold, over the crest of a hill was this sign:

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Success at last!  Off I went, happily exploring a new trail! About half of it was on deer trails in the bush with little flags marking the correct deer trail:

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Really nice views ……………….

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And then it happened …………………………….

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After climbing the big hill just past number 6 on the map, I was running towards 7 and then there were no trail markers. I kept going on a cattle trail that branched into three cattle trails but still no markers. I went back to the last marker and looked to both sides of the trail but no markers showing the trail had taken an abrupt turn. I went back on the cattle trails for a quarter of a mile, no markings. I circled left and then a circle right, no markings. I was sure if I kept following the cattle trails, I would eventually find the right trail again but here’s the deal. I had just run a long way and still had the same long way left to get back home. I was OK with running farther but I also had to be back in a certain time as we had to go into town. The time factor won out and I retraced my steps back to the trail head and then home.

Sure, Fairy Hill has won the first two rounds, but I will not be defeated!

I shall return, Fairy Hill.

You have not seen the last of me yet!

By: Russell Hodgins – On the Board for the Saskatchewan Trails Association

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Let us know on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter @SaskTrailsAssociation if you have ever been to the Fairy Hill Trail or have any pictures you would like to share!