A recent project has upgraded some of the trails – for snowmobiling and other activities – in the Hay River area.

The work began in March and resulted in improvements to about 19 km of trail.

“What we did was we hired a contractor to brush the trail,” said Junior Barnes, the president of the Hay River Snowmobile Club. “When I say brush the trail, he used a machine that shaved all the

Junior Barnes is the president of the Hay River Snowmobile Club.
NNSL file photo

stumps and all the trees that were in the way pretty much down to a fine mulch. There wasn’t very much if any debris at all left over.”

Barnes explained the work opened up the trails to about an average of 12 feet wide.

Previously, the trails had a single track, and a snowmobile had to pull to the side to let another machine going the other way pass by.

“So at 12 feet wide, you can safely have two machines going in opposite directions pass each other and you’ve got plenty of space,” said Barnes.

The work was undertaken in co-operation with the Town of Hay River, which helped obtain almost $40,000 from the GNWT’s Community Access Program.

“A big thank-you to the Town of Hay River for that, because they did find the bulk of the money for us there,” said Barnes.

The improved 15-kilometre main trail begins near the Hay River Regional Health Centre and comes out just before the shooting range. There is also a nearly four-kilometre loop called the Fox Run off the main trail.

The work was done by the contractor Brave Adventures Ltd.

The project also included the addition of light-reflective signs, arrows and kilometre markers put up by club members.

Barnes noted the widened trails stay within the original width of the cutlines.

“So we never expanded much of anything on the original cutlines, which was one of the guidelines that we were told about with the Department of Lands, because we met with those guys to make sure everything was all done properly,” he said.

Barnes also noted that the trails can be used by anyone.

“We don’t own the trails,” he said. “We lay no claim to any of the property back there. We’re just doing this maintenance to make it safe and better for everybody to enjoy.”

That can include skiers and snowshoers in the winter, and walkers in the summer.

Glenn Smith, the assistant senior administrative officer with the Town of Hay River, noted the project was a three-way partnership involving the town, the GNWT and the club.

“We were able as a community government to access the funds and we had an interested community group that was willing to oversee the project work and really were the subject matter experts,” he said. “So it was win-win for both sides.”

Smith believes the project will be good for recreation and tourism.

“It’s something that the town will look to promote, both from a recreation and from a tourism perspective,” he said.

In all, the snowmobiling trails in the Hay River area extend as far as Enterprise, Barnes noted. “If you were to leave from the hospital and head all the way to Enterprise, I believe you’re looking at about 65 kilometres.”

Barnes said that any work in future years on the rest of the trails will depend on the availability of funding.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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