The Great Trail remains an ongoing project for local communities and volunteers in Pictou County as they chip in to build a Canadian national treasure.
Forming a network of paths and waterways stretching from coast to coast and up to the Arctic, the Great Trail runs across the Pictou County, taking in Pictou, Trenton, New Glasgow, Stellarton and Westville before turning east towards Cape Breton.
“It is connected but not completed. It will continue to be a work in progress because a trail such as that will always be an ongoing project,” said Sally O’Neill from Active Pictou County.
Unlike other provinces, building the trail in Nova Scotia was led by local communities and volunteers, with support from both the federal government and private donors.
O’Neill said there were already sections of The Great Trail built in several communities, and had to be linked up as a single route.
At the same time, Active Pictou County wanted to make sure that each part of the region was connected to what has become an iconic Canadian trail, bringing hikers into all main towns and as many rural communities as possible.
“Each municipality has something special to share, and it is exciting that we can link those assets together for a regional experience that is specific to Pictou County,” said O’Neill in a follow-up email.
The main trail connects to other local pathways in both Nova Scotia and elsewhere, but on the local level, the communities it passes through participate in maintaining it.
In towns like New Glasgow, municipal staff keep it up to standard. On Pictou County land, local community groups manage their own sections of The Great Trail.
“There’s a great deal of volunteers and the trail is a model of positive volunteer work,” said O’Neill.
She was also pleased that people in towns had easy access to the trail and places of natural beauty.
While Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada have great potential for outdoor recreation and hiking, the region lagged behind other parts of Canada such as Alberta and British Columbia. There, attractions like the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Coast are a huge draw for tourists, who come in the millions.
“I think that having access to nature feels like something that is very Canadian and it is culturally important for us,” said O’Neill.
The Great Trail in Nova Scotia will be discussed by the province at its Jan. 18 standing committee meeting in Halifax.