Neil MacNeil (left) and Dave Cluett had their hiking boots ready on July 1 for the official opening of the Grant’s Pond-Hemlock Trail.

PORT HAWKESBURY: Local hikers now have a swanky 1.4 km of trail to enjoy thanks to the efforts of the Strait Area Trails Association (SATA) and the Town of Port Hawkesbury.

On Monday, in conjunction with Canada Day celebrations and the Festival of the Strait, the Grant’s Pond-Hemlock Trail was officially opened. Well over 100 folks braved a somewhat cold and wet day to lace up their boots and accompany SATA president Larry MacKeigan for a walk in the woods.

“The Hemlock trail has a fish ladder [enabling fish migration so that the fish can lay their eggs up stream] and a large rock with three birch trees growing out the top,” the president said. “It’s really quite the sight. There’s also a 46-foot long pedestrian bridge.

“The trail itself is 85 per cent stroller accessible and the other 15 per cent will be stroller accessible by the time the next phase is completed, which should be in the fall.

“Our nature trails link up to the Reeves Street Renewal and Revitalization project,” he continued. “People living in Tamarac, for instance, who are students at the community college can take the nature trail either by foot or peddle bike to wherever they need to go.”

The 1.4 kilometres is just one section of trail maintained by SATA. In total, there are 10 kilometres of trail looked after by the local group.

“It’s an old trail system for the most part, but we’ve taken some new routes with the trails to make the trails better for residents and visitors,” he said.

Photos by Grant McDaniel — Larry MacKeigan offered the official welcome during last Monday’s official opening of the Grant’s Pond-Hemlock Trail.

While everyone is welcome, it’s worth keeping in mind the trail system is intended for foot traffic and peddle bikes, with babies in strollers also welcome. Motorized transport like ATVs and four-wheelers aren’t allowed, with the exception of maintenance vehicles for upkeep of the trail.

Those visiting the trails are also reminded to “pack it in, pack it out.”

“If you are taking in a soft drink container, you have to take it out,” MacKeigan said. “There are no trash cans on the trails.”

He added the Town of Port Hawkesbury has been great to work with.

“They put the call out for volunteers with this project a few years ago, and we’re happy they did,” he said. “They enable us to use their lands and they provide us any support we require.”

Kudos for the new trail came from Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton, who wasn’t able to attend the Canada Day opening but who nonetheless said she’s very happy to see the local expanse of trail expand.

“I congratulate the Strait Area Trails Association in the grand opening of the Grants Pond-Hemlock Trail,” she said. “This new trail will add value to our goal to connect the citizens of our Town in multiple ways that will encourage and active and healthy lifestyle.”