Balancing Rock trail gets twisted

Jonathan
Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
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Published on May 10, 2014

Cassidy Frost, Taylor Barnaby, Kelsi Sullivan and Hannah Allbright dig up a stretch of the new Balancing Rock trail to add rocks for a drain.

Published on May 10, 2014

Carter Thurber and Dustin Campbell roll a rock into place on the new Balancing Rock trail.

Published on May 10, 2014

Alyssa Teed finds just the right spot for the next rock while creating a stacked-rock tread over a wet spot on the new trail.

Published on May 10, 2014

An employee with Cobequid Trail Consulting digs sand for the trail bed from a burrow hole near the trail.

Published on May 10, 2014

An employee with Cobequid Trail Consulting piles sand for the trail bed into a powered wheelbarrow.

Published on May 10, 2014

Employees with Cobequid Trail Consulting rake and tamp down the new trail bed leading to the Balancing Rock.

Published on May 10, 2014

The new stretch of trail leading to the Balancing Rock is designed to shed water and reduce erosion.

Published on May 10, 2014

Andrew Le uses a drawknife to strip the bark from logs for a trailside bench.

Published on May 10, 2014

The white spruce for a new trail bench was cut from a blowdown blocking the trail.

Published on May 10, 2014

The swamp on either side of the Balancing Rock trail is filled with Skunk Cabbage, many of them in bloom.

Published on May 10, 2014

Garnet McLaughlin of Cobequid Trail Consulting clears a blowdown from the stairs leading to Balancing Rock.

Published on May 10, 2014

Maeve Dixon and the rest of the O2 class at ICS clear brush from the stairs leading to the Balancing Rock on Long Island.

Published on May 10, 2014

Students from the O2 class at ICS, Kelsi Sullivan, Aylssa Teed, Taylor Barnaby, Hannah Allbright, Roger Outhouse, Maeve Dixon; Cassidy Frost, Andrew Le, Dustin Campbell, Carter Thurber and Garnet McLaughlin of Cobequid Trail Consulting take a break from working on the trail to admire the Balancing Rock.

Published on May 10, 2014

Heading out the trail to rush back for math class after a long day of trail maintenance.

The trail to the Balancing Rock has a few new twists and turns.

Contractors and community volunteers are wrapping up two weeks of work on the trail – a $40,000 project to make the trail more interesting and durable.

“We’ve accomplished three things out there,” said Bob Powell, manager of the Digby Area Recreation Commission. “We’ve made sure the trail is 100 per cent on municipality property, we’ve made the trail more interesting to walk and we have reduced our maintenance costs.”

Cobequid Trails Consulting has built about 500 metres of new trail near the shore end—originally the trail was built straight as an arrow to follow a boundary line.

The municipality acquired 13 acres of land in 2011 which has given them a little room to let the trail wander through the woods – away from a clear cut on the neighbouring property.

The new trail is only a few metres west of the original with turns, rock drains and some ditching, all designed to help the trail resist erosion.

After 15 years the old trail was starting to wash out, which meant a lot of ongoing maintenance for the municipality and volunteers.

“Even with a good maintenance plan, we just couldn’t keep up with it any more,” said Powell.

Cobequid Trail Consulting used a mini-excavator and a powered wheelbarrow to dig sand from small burrow holes beside the trail and then used that material to build up the trail.

The burrow holes they filled in with material removed when digging out the trail.

The men used rakes and other hand tools to crown and shape the path so that it will shed water.

The Options and Opportunities class from Islands Consolidated School in Freeport also spent a morning working on the trail.

They dug out two especially wet parts and stacked rocks to allow water to flow through.

They also stripped bark from logs for trail-side benches and cleared brush from the stairs.

Cobequid Consulting would also like to install a set of cribbing at the very beginning of the trail where runoff from the parking lot is washing out a sloped section.

The municipality has also ordered new signage, in both French and English, for the beginning of the trail and to replace interpretative signs along the way.

The municipality is also looking at improving the design and general neatness of the parking lot area.

The provincial government contributed $20,000 to the project through the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency.

The Municipality of the District of Digby contributed $10,000; the Friends of Island Trails contributed $5,000 and another $5,000 came in the form of in-kind community contributions.

Many of the recent improvements address deficiencies identified in a trail assessment carried out in October 2013 for the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency.

That assessment looked at the trail from the perspective of what was needed to make the trail a world-class destination trail – the report recommended the trail work as well a website and improved organization at the parking lot.

The municipality also paid for its own study of the trail as part of design work done for the Althouse Look Off, the Acacia Valley expansion and the Point Prim site.

Stagehouse Design of Grand Pre carried out that work and more specifically identified areas of the Balancing Rock trail that needed repairs.

Cobequid Trail Consulting is hoping visitors, especially large groups, will give the trail a couple weeks to settle and firm up.

The Municipality estimates that 10,000 to 13,000 people visit the Balancing Rock each year.

jriley@digbycourier.ca

Organizations: Cobequid Trails Consulting, Digby Area Recreation Commission, Nova Scotia Tourism Agency Municipality Islands Consolidated School

Geographic location: Acacia Valley

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