After some tender loving care, the Demonstration Forest and Nature Trail in the 99 Mile recreation area are open to the public.
On May 3, the District of 100 Mile House officially opened the trail, which is part of a complex of trails at the 99 Mile recreation site located on Ainsworth Rd, just south of 100 Mile House.
The trail is a loop, 5.7 km long, and takes about two hours to walk according to a local walking group who was on hand for the opening.
Although the trail is not new, a variety of upgrades took place over two months last summer and finished just before the snowfall, so 2017 will see the first full season for the new trail.
Sections of the trail have been gravelled to make them easier to walk, while the trail was also turned into a loop, gravelling sections of a snowmobile trail to link the end of the trail to the starting point, instead of forcing walkers to hike along Ainsworth Rd.
Interpretive signage along the demo trail, which is also on the district woodlot, describes different forestry practices and forest information. First installed in the mid-80s, it was also replaced and updated.
Sections of the trail, including the first 1.6 km at the lower trailhead and all of the Low Mobility Trail are accessible for those with mobility limitations.
“We’ve got something here that is really close to town, so you can come up and go for a short walk or a longer walk or you can bring the kids on a bike and they can ride their bike at the same time,” says Steve Law, a forester and member of the Cariboo Mountain Bike Consortium who worked on the upgrades.
“I’m all about recreation, getting people out to run and bike and walk — whatever. So that’s a passion. I’m quite happy to do whatever to encourage that.”
He says that over a two-year period, the trails have seen 1,876 users, including winter use, according to trail counters they’ve had set up along the trail.
“As more people become aware of it, it’s seen some significant use.”
Julie Gilmore, who manages the South Cariboo Visitor Centre, says she gets a lot of interest from people about the trails.
“We do actually [see] a lot of people who are interested in biking and walking and multi-use trails,” she says.
“People come back and they are like, ‘that is in your backyard, so close to town.’ Between Centennial Park and here, it’s wonderful.”
The trail was a partnership between the District of 100 Mile House, the Northern Development Initiative Trust, Rec Sites & Trails BC, DWB Forestry, Community Futures Cariboo-Chilcotin, Cariboo Mountain Bike Consortium, West Fraser Mills, Norbord, Montane Forest Consultants, the Stormriders Unit Crew and the BC Wildfire Service.
“It gives exercise, it’s healthy and it shows off what we have. B.C. is a beautiful province and this is a beautiful part of the province,” says Mayor Mitch Campsall. “There there are some beautiful trails out there that are just second to none. We’re just showing the beauty that we have in our community.”