Bealach Brèagha section of The Great Trail scheduled to open Saturday
The grand opening of a section of The Great Trail in Lake Ainslie is set to officially open this weekend.
The opening of the Bealach Brèagha section of the Inverness County trail will take place on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. with a ribbon cutting at the trail, located along Route 395 in East Lake Ainslie.
The trail, which is part of the Trans Canada Trail, is a multiuse trail for walking, hiking, skiing and snowmobiling. As part of the Trans Canada Trail policy, no ATVs are authorized to use the trail in the summer, however snowmobiles are allowed during the winter months.
“We’ve been working on this project for close to 10 years for some committee members,” said Coralie Cameron, cochair of the Lake Ainslie Trail Committee. “It really all came together this past year because the Trans Canada Trail is trying to be all connected by Canada’s 150th celebration in July, so we made a big push to get it finished in the spring, summer and fall of 2016.”
The 50-kilometre Bealach Brèagha, which is Gaelic for “Beautiful Mountain Pass”, is one of a number of sections of The Great Trail in Inverness County, including the 92-kilometer Celtic Shores Coastal Trail, the 16-kilometre Cape Clear Trail, and the 15-kilometre Lewis Mountain Trail, which is scheduled to open this spring.
The Bealach Brèagha project was made possible through the efforts and contributions of local volunteers. The project was funded by the Trans Canada Trail ($263,266), the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency ($209,735), the OffHighway Vehicle Infrastructure Fund ($80,750), the Municipality of the County of Inverness ($50,000), and the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage ($30,000), for a total of $633,751.
Funding assisted with trail construction, the addition of bridges and culverts, and the creation and installation of interpretive and directional signage.
Cameron said being able to connect to the Trans Canada Trail is significant news.
“Some of us remember when the whole idea of the Trans Canada Trail was launched back around the time of Canada 125,” she said. “It’s kind of important to be part of that bigger project, and also just the fact that it allows us to have the trail year round and useable for the whole community.”
After the ribbon cutting, a reception will be held at the Lake Ainslie Volunteer Fire Department, located at 2488 Route 395, RR 1, in Scotsville.
Those interested in being among the first official trail users are invited to an afternoon of trail activities including snowmobiling and guided cross-country skiing and snowshoeing from 2-4 p.m.
Cameron said the community is excited about the trail.
“A lot of people have been using the trail already as we sort of pieced it together and fixed it,” she said. “I think the biggest part is just for people to get out and use it and explore parts of it that they haven’t really seen before.”
Aside from the project, Inverness County will also boast four of The Great Trail’s water access points, the first of which opened at Marble Mountain last August. Water access points at the Whycocomagh Waterfront Centre, the We’koqmag First Nation, and Orangedale are expected to open this spring.
A detailed map of the Great Trail is available by visiting www.thegreatrail.ca. The online map displays completed sections of the trail in green and blue, with planned sections of the trail plotted in orange.
A skier is seen using the Bealach Brèagha section of The Great Trail in Lake Ainslie. The grand opening of the section of the Inverness County trail will take place at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.