Trail Building Planning Steps

If you are looking at potentially adding a trail to your community, there are several steps to consider. Successfully funding, building, and maintaining a new trail can be a tough task. Here are a few different preparation steps to consider and plan for before you start building a trail.

Concept

Before starting into trail design and construction, the first step is to lay out a concept for your trail.  A good concept consists of a few sentences or statements to define your mission and objectives. Design a rough goal that you wish to achieve.

Study area

The next step is to study the area where you want to build. Sketch or photocopy a rural municipality ownership map or topographical map to gain an idea of the location, ownership, and terrain.

Why is this trail a good idea?

The next step is to better understand what makes this trail a good idea. What aspects make this trail unique? What is the need for this trail? What target audience or demographic will use this trail? Are adjustments possible to incorporate a greater user group? All of these questions aid in creation of a successful trail. Trail knowledge and ideas can be gained by talking to other trail operators or organizers, these contacts can be found on Sasktrails.ca.

Try discussing the idea with friends and family to see potential opportunities or risks that you might have missed. Keep track of those in support of a trail to add to a mailing list as well as your community’s recreation director. A walk down the desired trail location and route can help to point out any potential problem areas such as cliffs, bogs, rivers, or other difficult to pass areas. As well, consider any environmental concerns like heritage sites which should not be disturbed.

Route evaluation checklist

Creation of a route evaluation checklist helps to compile the vast diversity of the area such as the vegetation, topography, natural features, built features, infrastructure, wildlife, slopes, views, intersections, and access points. Gathering this information into a checklist will assist in designing the path for the trail and potential features to set your trail apart from others.

Contact any outdoor clubs and talk to key people

Grow your stakeholders and connections by contacting outdoors groups and key people who can help to get the trail built and backed. Some of these groups are the Saskatchewan Snowmobiling Association (sasksnow.ca), Saskatchewan All-Terrain Vehicle Association (satva.ca), Saskatchewan Cycling Association (saskcycling.ca), and Saskatchewan Horse Federation (saskhorse.ca). Making these connections will be a huge step towards gaining funding and volunteers.

Call a meeting to clarify your group’s vision

Call a meeting for all potential trail supporters and finalize questions such as: general type of trail, how it will relate to existing trails, approximate route and length, type of uses allowed, preferred surface material, theme or prominent subject of area, name for the project (a catchy name will often attract users).

Managing tasks

 Select a person for each of the following tasks:

  • Research history of site
  • Put together a list of influential people in area
  • Start to consider where the funding could come from
  • Compile a list of recreation, cultural, historic and tourist sites which would be supportive
  • Explain how this trail relates to the provincial trail network and other nearby routes
  • Have a local artist “add” a trail to a large photo of the site
  • put the research material together into a display, emphasizing the community benefits
  • put research material onto a map of the area, at a scale of 1:50,000 or more detailed
  • compile text information, with reference to the distance from one end and start a scrapbook of all the promotion and support received

Go public!

This step involves meeting more influential people, organizations, and the general public while recording their contact information. This also includes writing a media release and contacting the media such as newspapers, radios, and televisions to get the word out and gain more supporters.

Expand and formalize the concept

Write a program statement to obtain formal endorsements and funding. The program statement will consist of a one-page narrative documenting the vision and schedule. You should already have some influential supporters and contacts, so now is the time to use them. Contact target groups or people such as an MP, MLA, Mayor, City Council, or Major Industry in search of endorsements.

Project proposal

The project proposal requires a detailed site investigation to determine exactly what work is required. This will be one of the largest steps and require time to document all of the information and build an in-depth report.

Expenses

Have the financial person start a project budget of anticipated expenses. Getting written quotations at this stage will allow more efficient fund-raising and reduce the approval time.

Design

The design step focuses on land acquisition, path clearing, placing material, obtaining required equipment, creation of maps, creation of signage, and other required design tools.

Funding

 Have someone start to search for funding. Indicate to all organizations how much you are requesting from others. Everyone wants to see commitment from others. (A great place to start your search for funding would be to visit sasktrails.ca or National Trails Coalition at ntc-canada.ca). Record all of the organizations you have asked for funding, their reply, and the amount donated, this will help to keep the books.

Approvals

Obtain all approvals including land ownership (lease, licence of occupation, or purchasing), municipality, funding organizations, operating organizations. Sample landowner agreements can be found on the SaskTrails’ website.

Insurance

Determine the need for liability insurance and acquire a policy if required. (Oasis Insurance — oasisinsurance.ca — located in North Battleford offers a discount rate to all SaskTrails members.)

Official opening

Congratulations, you have officially opened the trail and made a huge impact on your community. Now it is time to plan the opening, recognise the efforts of the group, and thank the supporters and funders. Once opened it is important to focus on ongoing trail maintenance and to continue to evaluate and follow up with trail issues and feedback. By following these steps, you can more accurately and reliably plan out the creation of your trail.

These steps and the full Trail Planning Workbook can be found at https://sasktrails.ca/trail-builders/.

A Guide for Trail Etiquette 

   

With a growing number of people on the trails these days, it is important to remind everyone about trail etiquette so we can all have the best experience.

It is great that a high amount of people are outdoors enjoying the trails, but it is also important that we remember to be safe and courteous of other individuals on the trails. Trail etiquette does not just involve our interactions with others either, it also encompasses proper care to the trails and nature as well. Trail goers do not just include individuals on foot, there are plenty of bikers and horse back riders too, which increases the risk of accidents if a trail is not being shared properly.

Here is an easy to learn guide to ensure you are being respectful to individuals and the environment when your out on the trails.

Plan Ahead:

  • Before heading out on a trail, research any conditions, regulations, or special concerns of the area. Some urban trails for example, are now designated one-way trails to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Familiarize yourself with the trail route.
  • If you notice the trail route is pretty difficult, consider choosing an easier trail based on your physical capabilities and experience.
  • Pick a low use times time to go on the trail to minimize excessive human activity in the one area at a time. However, it is important that you pick a time that ensures you have enough time to complete the trail in day light.
  • Check the weather before you head out on the trail.

Bring the Essentials:

  • Food and water to keep you fueled, and zip lock or larger bags to store your rubbish.
  • A hat, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
  • Proper footwear, and suitable clothing for the weather.
  • A helmet if you’re cycling or trail riding.
  • Travel in a group of 3 or 4 in case someone gets hurt. It is also important to go with others if you have never been to that trail before.
  • Take a whistle, and for longer journeys bring a hiking survival kit and first aid kit.
  • Pets are best left at home. If you do bring them, keep them on a leash, away from the water, and bring doggy bags to clean up after them.

Travel Properly:

  • Stay on the trail path, do not create shortcuts to decrease soil erosion and to respect the privacy of people living along trails.
  • Avoid making loud voices and noises to respect the serenity of nature.
  • Watch for poisonous plants, wildlife and falling rocks.
  • If you drink water that is not from home it must be purified.
  • Walk, ride or cycle in single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
  • Travel on the right of the trail and pass on the left.
  • If a person is climbing up a hill they have the right of way if you are climbing down.
  • Bike riders yield to hikers and horseback riders; hikers yield to horseback riders.
  • Unless you are passing someone, try keep a good distance between yourself and other hikers.

Have Manners Toward Mother Nature:

  • Pack it in, Pack it Out: take your trash home with you. It is the simplest yet most fundamental thing you can do for the environment. The saying: “Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints” is important to follow.
  • Leave flowers, wood, rocks, and plants on the trail so others can enjoy them.
  • Do not break branches off the trees.
  • Do not build structures, fire rings, furniture or dig trenches. Fires are not allowed on the trails except in campsites that approve it.
  • Do not assume certain foods are biodegradable.
  • If you have to bury human waste, make sure you do it at least 100 metres from any water.
  • If you camp, leave your site cleaner than you found it. Make sure your campsite is at least 60 meters away from water sources, so animals are able to come drink the water.
  • Do not disturb plants or wildlife. In many federal or provincial jurisdictions its illegal. Removing archaeological artifacts, dead wood, fossils or other geological features is not permitted.

Extra Tips- Hiking with Children:

  • Dress them in bright colours so they can be located easier.
  • Bring extra food and feed them often to avoid irritability.
  • For longer trips bring a backpack carrier. Practice using it at home so you are well prepared.
  • Do not bury disposable diapers.

After reading this guide, I hope you are more knowledgeable about trail etiquette and will use these valuable instructions moving forward. If everyone continues to do their part, fun will be guaranteed for everyone and Saskatchewan Trails will continue to be available for years to come.

    

If you ever witness or come across any vandalism, please report it to the organization managing the trail.

Need to Know of Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac

Well this is a blog I have just been itching to write! As we all know, we can only control nature so much, and occasionally on a nice hike through your favorite trail, you can come across some less than pleasant wildlife and plant life. Learn how to identify, avoid, and treat yourself or others if you happen to bump into one of these less than friendly plants!

Facts

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac grow everywhere. These plants grow mainly in North America in wooded and marshy areas. There are many myths and misconceptions about these plants as well. The three “poisonous” plants are not really poisonous, they have a sap like oil that covers their leaves that is to blame for the nasty rashes they leave behind. This sap is called urushiol and causes extremely itchy and quite painful rashes on the skin.

These rashes consist of streaks of red raised blisters and while unpleasant, often do not show up for hours to days after contact with the plant’s oil. While the rash and itching are not contagious, if in contact with the plants, wash it off immediately to avoid spreading the oil.

Note: pets (dogs and cats) can be harmed by poison ivy, oak, and sumac as well. An animal that comes in contact with the oils of these plants may not show symptoms immediately because it has to work its way through the animal’s fur. Animals can also transmit the sticky oil to humans.

How to Avoid

Seeing as these plants can be anywhere, the best way to avoid them is to be aware of your surroundings and knowledgeable about their appearance. The rhyme “leaves of three, let them be”, however, is not true, poison ivy has only three leaves, but the other two can grow in leaves of seven to thirteen.

Another precaution to take is simply wearing clothing that covers your skin. If the oil cannot touch and stick to your skin, it cannot harm you. However, you should always be careful and wash any clothing or tools that come in contact with these plants as the oil may still be on them.

Treatment

Another dangerous misconception or myth about poison ivy, oak, and sumac is that you do not need to visit the doctor to get treatment. In minor cases, you may not need to see a doctor, but it is smart to go anyways. If the rash is close to your face or eyes, or if the rash is accompanied by nausea, fever, shortness of breath, extreme soreness, or allergy like symptoms, you should visit the ER immediately! Doctors can prescribe pills and/or cremes to reduce the rashes, swelling, itching, and any other accompanied side effects.

While there is no substitute for seeing a doctor and receiving treatment, along with treatment, there are some home remedies you can use. Aside from washing the area with water and soap, keep the infected area cool, dry, and clean. Lotions like calamine lotion, diphenhydramine cream or hydrocortisone can help control itching. Cool compresses, baths with baking soda/oatmeal can also soothe the rash to help avoid the terrible itch. Avoid scratching the rash or blisters because it will only make it hurt and itch more.

Nobody plans to come into contact with these plants, but accidents happen when you least expect it. Hopefully this information can help you, your friends, or your family on your next trip through the trails in Saskatchewan!