Trail usage way up in Chatham-Kent

The Rotary Eco-Trail at O'Neill's Nature Preserve in Chatham. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Chatham-Kent residents are hitting the trails to stay active during Ontario’s stay-at-home order.

“At Paxton’s Bush (O’Neil Nature Preserve) since October, we’ve had 20,000 users,” said Chatham-Kent Active Transportation and Special Events Coordinator Genevieve Champagne. “Same with 22,000 users on Mud Creek just since the end of October until now. Those are amazing numbers for the fact that it is winter, I can’t wait to see what it is in the spring.”

Local trail usage also skyrocketed when the COVID-19 pandemic started last March.

“Normally we see about 50 to 100 people a day at Paxton’s Bush, or at the Rotary Eco-Trail,” said Champagne. “Right after the pandemic started there and everything else was closed, we were having residents saying they were seeing 100 people an hour.”

There are 55 trails in Chatham-Kent, plus more in local conservation areas and provincial parks.

“It equals out to 225 km of trails and pathways,” said Champagne. “Then on our Trails Council website, we have 225 km of water trails.”

Water trails are for canoeing and kayaking.

Champagne said there are a number of very popular trails to choose from all over Chatham-Kent.

“The Round the River Route is very awesome for cycling, but they also use it for the multi-use pathway in front of the college. The CASO trail in Ridgetown is seeing a lot of cycling, walking, cycling, and when it does snow, cross-country skiing. In Mitchell’s Bay and Erieau, those trails are always highly populated because of the scenic nature.”

“In 2020, the municipality added 9 km of trails, and they’re hoping to add at least 21 km in 2021.

To learn more about trails in Chatham-Kent, or to download a map, visit https://chathamkenttrails.ca/, or https://www.chatham-kent.ca/parks-recreation/communityparks/trails.