The snow has melted and the mercury is rising, and for hikers, bikers and walkers, it’s trail season.
The Goderich to Guelph Rail Trail is gearing up for this year’s Spring on the Trail event on May 13, encouraging everyone to come out and take advantage of the better weather and take a new look at rural Ontario.
“This year, we are really trying to get the message out that we want the communities to come together, to make it their day, to get off the couch and get on the trail,” said Doug Cerson of the G2G Rail Trail group.“We want to challenge everybody to get the community to get together, like the Lions Clubs, the Optimist Clubs, the kids’ hockey teams, we just want them all to say that this is a good day to take our group, our friends, our family and drag them out of the house and get them out there, whether it is walking, or running, biking or hiking.”
It is because of the community coming together that the group has been able to make big improvements and additions to the 127-kilometre trail.
“The last year and a half, we have brought together as many of the trail steward groups and local groups as we can. There are 13 communities and there are local groups within those communities and in addition to that, we were pretty successful in pulling funds together last year that were in excess of $200,000. It is pretty cool,” said Cerson. “Some communities have specific events that will be happening. We have seen barbecues in West Montrose, Ariss usually has their hiking club out there getting people out walking. Elmira will have some people out on the trail with the Lions Clubs and the township. It just goes on and on and on up the trail to create awareness. There are too many to name, but when you take those 13 communities, you can be assured that there are people in every community helping.”
Some of the improvements can be hard to see, says Cerson, but it all goes towards maintaining and enhancing the trail.
“With that money, we have put more equipment out on the trail and with that stuff, you kind of have to be out on the trail to see it,” he said.“We have had everything from the great big brush cutting machine that widens the canopy, to experiments with different grooming techniques on different surfaces to bring them up to the grade that we are used to, especially in the Elmira area.”
This year’s Spring on the Trail day is for people to experience the upgrades, and renew their appreciation for rural Ontario.
“Once you start going west, you start to realize, ‘oh yeah, this is where the food comes from,’ and you can see that along the trail,” explained Cerson. “Especially this time of year, you get to see all the different things happening in rural Ontario with the tapping of the trees in the winter, the different agriculture, the different animal life that you can see along the trail and on farms.”
The event is free of charge, but runs alongside G2G Rail Trail’s spring fundraising season. Cerson says the group would need $5 million over 5 years to do everything they are planning for the trail, including building bridges in Milverton and Perth County.
“It takes a lot of money, of course, but we are off to a really great start,” he said.“I don’t have the exact number now, but I quote it as over $450,000 that we have deployed onto the trail on various projects since we have started this.”
There is a donation site set up where trail enthusiasts and more can sign up as individuals or teams and raise money ahead of Spring on the Trail at www.canadahelps.org and search: ‘G2G.’
The event runs all day on May 13, with events at various points along the trail, including a barbeque on Middlebrook Road, a group bicycle ride in Millbank and a bike rodeo in Milverton for kids 12 and under (11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the trailhead) and a 20-kilometre ride to Linwood and back.