Caledon Hills Bruce Trail Club is one of the 9 clubs that comprise the Bruce Trail Conservancy. The clubs were established in the 1960s (Caledon Hills in 1964) with the express purpose of finding landowners along the Escarpment who were willing to have a hiking trail on their property, and having done that, to build the trail. Once built, the trail needs to be maintained on a regular basis. Each club maintains the trail through a team of volunteers. Caledon Hills club has about 70 km of main trail and 40 km of side trails.
New Trail Development
While the Bruce Trail was officially opened in 1967, it is far from being complete. Significant sections of the trail still follow roads, while other parts may be off-road but not in the optimal location. Thus, the clubs are still actively approaching landowners in the hope that the Trail can be moved off-road or onto a better route. Also, the Bruce Trail Conservancy is one of Ontario’s largest land trusts, acquiring approximately 10 new parcels of land along the Escarpment each year. When a new piece of land becomes available for the trail, our New Trail Development director swings into action, in conjunction with our Land Stewardship staff, to determine the best route for the trail, and to organize the construction of it.
The trail is divided into multiple sections, each from 4 to 10 km in length. A trail captain is assigned to maintain each section. Frequent visits, especially from spring to fall, are required. Trail captains repaint the blazes once every 2 to 3 years, trim back any vegetation encroaching onto the trail, pick up garbage, mow grass and weeds, and renew signage. Fallen tree limbs are frequently found on the trail. There are also numerous structures: bridges, boardwalks, stiles, steps, side-logs and water-bars, all of which need to be monitored and kept in good condition. If a large problem presents itself, the trail captain reports it.
Next up the rung are the four quadrant leaders who follow up with any issues that a trail captain requests. Likewise, they determine what large work projects are needed and organize these.
Trees fall down in the forest all the time. Major windstorms, heavy snowfalls and ice storms all bring down even more limbs or entire trees. This is when we call in our sawyers. Certified by a course offered through the BTC, our volunteer sawyers are trained in the safe use of chainsaws to remove large trees obstructing the trail, or nearby trees that may present a hazard to hikers.
Occasional Trail Workers
Several people are on-call for occasional work parties which perform larger repair or building projects. This is an excellent way for newcomers to become familiar with the standards and techniques used in building and maintaining the trail.
Largely administrative, the trail coordinator is the communicator to keep it moving along.