Tails from the Field: On the trail for wonder

The Forks Prairie Garden is a great outdoor classroom. (Photo by Thomas Fricke)

The Forks Prairie Garden is a great outdoor classroom. (Photo by Thomas Fricke)

August 17, 2018 | by Liv Monck-Whipp

There are many kinds of nature trails, for many kinds of nature lovers. Some people are happy to scramble over rocks, cut across shallow rivers or squeeze past thorny vegetation during their hike. Others prefer terrain that's a bit more level, with a boardwalk and some great views. Either way, knowing what you're getting into in advance is key to a safe and enjoyable hike.

Trails (Illustration by Liv Monck-Whipp/Tails from the Field)

Illustration by Liv Monck-Whipp/Tails from the Field

As the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) prepared to launch the second year of the Nature Destinations program, staff took a much closer look at the trails they've come to know and love.

When NCC conserves a property, it often comes with a trail or two already present. By sticking to pre-existing trails, we can reduce impact on the surrounding habitat. NCC always takes a nature-first approach to trails, and so in rare cases where a new trail is created, it is carefully routed along a path where it will cause the least disturbance These trails guide visitors around NCC properties. Interpretive signs point out interesting species as well as natural and cultural features of the area. Trails lead people to scenic vistas and, ultimately, they show us the way back home.

So it is important that these trails be accessible, safe and welcoming. NCC staff regularly monitor trails for fallen trees and other hazards. NCC staff evaluated trails for difficulty (from easy to strenuous), length and surface (earth, gravel, boardwalk, etc.). Much of this information was already recorded in our Land Information System. However, this was a great opportunity to fill in the gaps. Trail information for each property is available on the Nature Destinations website, so visitors can plan their route in advance.

Want an even more detailed view? Many of NCC's trails have been mapped by Google Trekker, so you can preview them online.

Liv Monck-Whipp

About the Author

Liv Monck-Whipp is a conservation biology assistant in the Ontario Region for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Read more about Liv Monck-Whipp.

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