Two popular trails in Kananaskis Country will be getting major makeovers

Click to play video: 'Two Kananaskis Country trails to be re-vamped'
Two Kananaskis Country trails to be re-vamped
A local non-profit received $240,000 to help revamp two popular trails in Kananaskis Country - all funded by Alberta's conservation pass. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, this money will help maintain and conserve the trails – May 20, 2023

Two popular trails in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary will be getting major makeovers.

Powderface Creek Trail is a much-loved getaway for hikers and bikers and is just a short drive west of Calgary.

“It accesses a bunch of very popular ridges. It’s extremely popular with mountain bikes and it’s in terrible shape,” said Derek Ryder,  director of communications with Friends of Kananaskis

“A lot of the trails in the public land use zone area have not received a lot of trail maintenance over the years. It’s just not a focus of attention. There’s not a lot of trail crew folks,” Ryder said.

Friends of Kananaskis Country just received $240,000 to rebuild the westernmost 3.5 km of the trail. It is a non-profit society that supports provincial staff in maintaining non-motorized trails in Kananaskis.

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The entire amount is funded by the Kananaskis Conservation Pass.

In 2022, The Friends put in over 2,700 hours of volunteer time in support of trails in Kananaskis Country.

Prairie Mountain also joins a list of trails that have been closed recently for upgrades.

“They’ve gotten to the point where they’re so popular we have to do something,” Ryder said.

“Prairie Mountain is a trail that desperately needs help. It’s a  super popular trail for great reasons. It’s accessible all year round and it goes to a phenomenal viewpoint but it’s always been an informal trail. Nobody’s ever planned it,” Ryder said.

“The trick is when they become very popular they aren’t designed to handle traffic.”

Click to play video: 'Officials remind Kananaskis Country visitors to purchase Discovery Pass'
Officials remind Kananaskis Country visitors to purchase Discovery Pass

Ryder said there’s no right answer when it comes to charging people to use the park but he says the old system of managing Kananaskis Country was not working.

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“There was uncertainty in funding and you never knew what you could do from year to year, highly variable budgets. It needed a different model,” Ryder said.

The Alberta NDP plans to scrap the pass if elected.

“We are also looking at other more voluntary payment opportunities for those people who do want to contribute a little bit more to Alberta parks and do have the economic means to do so, but we want to prioritize access to parks for all Albertans, regardless of how much disposable income they have,” said Sarah Elmeligi, Alberta NDP candidate for Banff-Kananaskis, at a news conference on Saturday.

In a statement from Miranda Rosin, the United Conservative Party candidate for Banff-Kananaskis, didn’t address questions about the Kananaskis Conservation Pass but said 60 campgrounds, day-use area, and trail enhancement projects are underway across the province, representing an investment of $50.9 million in 2023.

A UCP spokesman told Global News that Rosin is expected to share more information on funding Alberta parks on Sunday.

Ryder is also reminding people who are headed out to the mountains to tread gently on the trails this time of year, advising them to “ride dirt not mud”

“People don’t want to walk through mud but they really should. If they walk around the mud, they make the trail bigger. If they walk through mud they make a hole. We can fix a hole but if they braid the trail, that’s hard to fix. If they make the trail 40 feet wide, that’s hard to maintain,” Ryder said.

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“Most of the trails are dry. You will run across puddles because it’s spring. Walk through them and ride through them because if you go around them, you’re just going to make the trail harder for us to fix.”

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