Connecting St. Mary’s to Conestogo, the Avon Trail covers 110 kilometres of farmland, brush and open fields, crosses numerous creeks and streams and links the Thames Valley and the Grand Valley Trail. As part of the effort to keep the trail contiguous, the Avon Trail Club this summer installed a new 24-foot bridge across Bamberg Creek, just south of Waterloo Regional Road 12, and east of Wilmot Road 16. Constructed by the maintenance crew, Dennis Rawe, Warren Breedon, Dave Williamson, Rick Horst and Luke Debrabandere, it was built to Bruce Trail Conservancy standards.
The pre-fabricated bridge was hauled across farmland to its current location, replacing an old wooden structure that had become a safety hazard.
“We are happy with the enhancement this bridge has made to this section of the trail,” said Bernard Goward, Avon trail maintenance coordinator. “Our members vary in age and background, but all share an interest in being active outdoors and this bridge helps by connecting the trail across the creek.”
The bridge cost close to $800 to build and was funded by the Thames Valley Trail Association based in London.
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“We were very lucky to have the association help us since they are always looking to help advance hiking trails – they were very generous,” said Goward.
The club is also fortunate to have the cooperation of landowners who allow hikers to walk through their properties, he added.
Since the addition of the bridge across the Bamberg Creek, the club has erected another bridge southeast of Stratford on Perth Road crossing a drainage ditch at the back of a cornfield.
Currently the club has 55 members and schedules a variety of hikes with varying degrees of difficulty and duration over the course of the year. Some are short, two-hour hikes while others are five or six hours in length. Often, the hikes end with a social hour at a local pub.
The trail is marked at regular intervals by white rectangular blazes on trees and fences and the club recommends never travelling the route alone. Motorized vehicles, camping, or fires are not permitted on the trail.
The club established 35 years ago tries to stimulate an interest in hiking while establishing and maintaining the trails for hiking. They also encourage awareness of the natural environment and promote the conservation of the environment.
“Hiking is good for body and soul, especially if you are having a tough day, just go out for a walk and clear your mind and surround yourself with nature,” said Dick Pullin a member of the Avon Trial for some 20 years.
Anyone interested in joining the Avon Trail can contact representatives at www.avontrail.ca.