Happy trails, in­deed

Ma­jor im­prove­ments through Nic­taux on South Shore An­napo­lis Trail

Annapolis Valley Register - - NEWS - BY LAWRENCE POW­ELL THE SPEC­TA­TOR

The trail through Nic­taux was so over­grown that at some points two ATVS ap­proach­ing each other was a recipe for dis­as­ter.

That’s why Butch Guitard and some other vol­un­teers geared up and started ma­jor up­grades, es­pe­cially in the more ur­ban sec­tions where peo­ple walk dogs, hike and ride horses.

They started at the Nix­taux Road / Mid­dle Road in­ter­sec­tion and hope to go all the way to Spring­field. It’s an am­bi­tious project, but trail users say it’s about time.

“This work here is be­ing done by South Shore An­napo­lis Val­ley Trail So­ci­ety,” said Guitard as a grader worked just to the east of the Lions Club hall that backs onto the trail. It was May 28 and they’d been work­ing three or four days al­ready and mak­ing good progress.

“The funds that we get are from grants from An­napo­lis County, grants from Lunen­burg County, the OHV Fund, that sort of thing,” he said. “We ap­ply for them through­out the year and then get the grant money to do the work.”

Vol­un­teers Dave Bishop and Ken Clarke are half a kilo­me­ter north on the trail with a Stihl brush cut­ter and a pole saw cutting back the trees and shrubs that threat­ened to close the trail off al­to­gether in a few more years.

Hawthorne trees sport thorns an inch-and-a-half long and are so sharp and tough they can punc­ture a tire or put out an eye. They wear safety gear.


The trail is 122 kilo­me­tres long al­to­gether, but Guitard is only re­spon­si­ble for the An­napo­lis County sec­tion. There’s an­other trail man­ager at the New Ger­many end where the trail stops. An­other leg swings back from New Ger­many to the west and ends at Cale­do­nia.

“We started in Nic­taux here be­cause this was one of the parts of the trail that was most used at this end of the prov­ince,” said Guitard. “It’s highly used and it’s never had any main­te­nance done to it – re­ally heavy main­te­nance done to it – in the last 10 years. So we de­cided to tackle this end be­cause there’s a lot of dust flies on this trail right here up to High­way 10.”

Ivan Trimper has been con­tracted to do the heavy work and sup­ply the ma­te­ri­als like soil, gravel, and crusher dust as needed.

“What we’re do­ing is re­grad­ing it, clear­ing all the brush off the sides so it’s more vis­ual,” Guitard said. “Ba­si­cally we’ve gone from about five feet to al­most 10 feet wide now be­cause it was too con­gested in here. It’s a multi-use trail so it’s used by peo­ple on bi­cy­cles, run­ners, walk­ers, horses, ATVS.”

They’re also re­pair­ing any cul­verts that need it, and fix­ing signs.

He said they want to ac­com­mo­date ev­ery­body on the trail. Grading it took out the dips and pot­holes, mak­ing it safer, es­pe­cially for run­ners.

“We put crusher dust on top to try to con­trol dust so it doesn’t af­fect the lo­cal peo­ple in the area that have houses backed up to the trail,” he said. “So we’re try­ing to do some re­me­dial work in that area that we can help con­trol the dust that’s on here.”

Up the Moun­tain

David Bishop takes a break from op­er­at­ing the brush cut­ter to start up his Can Am side-by­side and take a tour across the other side of High­way 10 and north up the moun­tain through stands of hard­wood. The trail par­al­lels the Nic­taux River, and at times rid­ers can look al­most straight down to the black water 100 feet below them. At one point you ride through a sec­tion where the old rail­way went be­tween walls of blasted rock maybe a dozen feet high. It’s like a tun­nel with­out a roof.

While the trail is wide and the sight lines are good, that sec­tion is rough and dot­ted with pot­holes and dips. The edges have been scraped but more work needs to be done. Bishop reaches the dam at the top and pauses to take in the view across the lake. It’s gor­geous.

How far will Guitard and his vol­un­teers go?

“As far as the money will take me, which would be from the Nic­taux Road go­ing south down the old rail bed as far as we can go – and I don’t know how far that’s go­ing to be,” he said. “Right now, in to­tal, we’ve done maybe, I’d say be­tween 12 and 14 kilo­me­tres.”

Ide­ally he’d like to make it all the way to Spring­field but doesn’t know if that’s pos­si­ble.

He noted the crusher dust will only be used in the more pop­u­lated Nic­taux area and won’t be used once the trail crosses High­way 10.

“As we move along here we fix ev­ery­thing as we go,” said Guitard.

There’s a fall­ing tree dan­ger­ously threat­en­ing trail users and Guitard, Clarke, and Bishop de­bate what they’ll do to cut it down. “So far the peo­ple in Nic­taux have been very re­cep­tive to it. They’ve ba­si­cally said it’s about time.”


But it all takes money and vol­un­teers.

“We’re not paid peo­ple out here at all,” he said. “We’re just vol­un­teers that come out here and help to do this. They’re very valuable be­cause they’re guys I can depend on all the time to come out when I ask them to – they’re al­ways here for me.”


Vol­un­teers, in­clud­ing Butch Guitard, David Bishop, and Ken Clarke, have been busy work­ing on im­prove­ments to the South Shore An­napo­lis Trail, es­pe­cially where it goes through Nic­taux. It’s been widened where needed, graded, and re­pairs are be­ing made...

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