New Universal Trail Opened in Northumberland County Forest

In Local

On May 31, 2024, Northumberland County officially opened the Porcupine Universal Trail in Northumberland County Forest, made possible through federal and provincial funding from the Investing in Canada’s Infrastructure Program (ICIP) COVID-19 Resilience Stream (CVRIS). This initiative to construct an accessible trail in the County Forest, coupled with significant investments from the federal and provincial governments, will enhance recreational opportunities for all community members.

Located at the Woodland Trailhead, the Porcupine Universal Trail, provides individuals of all abilities with the opportunity to explore and enjoy the natural beauty of the Forest. This trail not only increases access to forested recreational trails but also fosters a deeper connection between people and nature.

The opening of the trail also coincides with National Accessibility Week, which is an opportunity to promote accessibility and inclusion across communities and celebrate the many social, economic, and cultural achievements of persons with disabilities. The Northumberland Accessibility Advisory Committee helped collaborate on the aspects of a universal trail design to ensure a more inclusive space for the community.

Constructed with attention to environmental stewardship and inclusivity, the trail design was developed in consultation with the Williams Treaties First Nations to ensure the trail location avoided sensitive areas and minimized damage to vegetation and native habitat. At the event, Jennifer Niles and Aiden Gorveatt from Alderville First Nation shared their Indigenous knowledge and voice to ensure the opening was inclusive and the Michi Saagiig Anishinaabeg territory was respected.

The new universal trail provides a welcoming environment where individuals of all abilities can experience the wonders of nature without limitations. The trail covers a one kilometre distance with a wide, smooth granular surface and features interpretive signs and resting benches along the route. The trail is designed as a full circular loop with smooth low slopping grades and a trail width of 335 centimetres. Trail users are provided opportunities for rest and educational signs offering insights into the rich history and biodiversity of the County Forest.

Northumberland County is committed to creating barrier-free spaces that are fully inclusive and responsive to the needs of diverse residents and visitors. Situated on the Oak Ridges Moraine, the Forest is an ecological oasis for flora and fauna and offers unique opportunities to connect with nature. The Northumberland County Forest is a desired destination for residents and visitors with over 100,000 users each year enjoying the 118-kilometre trail network.

Quick Facts
· Under the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), the Government of Canada committed over $100,000K and the Government of Ontario committed over $25,000 to support the construction of the Porcupine Universal Trail.

· The trail location and construction was guided by representatives from the Williams Treaties First Nations.

· The Porcupine Universal Trail will allow greater mobility for all users.

· The trail has a cross slope maximum of 15 degrees with an average of 3.2 per cent grade.

· The new trail traverses through a 100-year-old plantation that has been converted into a natural mixed coniferous/deciduous forest.

Quotes
“The Porcupine Universal Trail provides a way to stay active and enjoy the outdoors. This accessible trail allows users to revel in the beauty of Northumberland Forest and learn about its history thanks to signage along the route.” – Hon. Sean Fraser, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities

“Ontario remains steadfast in ensuring rural communities like ours are truly accessible and we are proud to work with Northumberland County to make it happen. This trail will allow so many more people the chance to enjoy the natural beauty of the Northumberland County Forest, learn about our environment and understand the natural heritage of the region.” – Hon. David Piccini, MPP for Northumberland—Peterborough South

“This new trail is an example of our commitment to creating inclusive spaces where all members of our community can come together to enjoy the beauty of our natural surroundings. This trail not only enhances accessibility but also provides a platform for environmental education and appreciation.” – Brian Ostrander, Northumberland County Warden

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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