North Coast nature lovers have much to look forward to as construction begins on the long-awaited Cloudberry Trail in Prince Rupert.
Currently, contractors are developing the first one-kilometre segment of trail from the Civic Centre to Prince George Street, running parallel to the Yellowhead Highway.
The multi-use path is run by volunteer group Kaien Trails, which has obtained funds through provincial and federal grants. Kaien Trails president Steve Milum said the organization is extremely excited for these latest developments, and is hoping the trail will allow more people to get out into Prince Rupert’s astounding natural world.
“We have this amazing backyard and it’s really, really hard for locals, let alone visitors to get out and enjoy it,” said Milum.
“This really makes that wilderness… accessible to everyone.”
The final trail blueprint aims to connect Prince Rupert with Port Edward, combining both ocean and forest views. Hiking trails such as the Tall Trees Trail and the Butze Rapids Trail would also be accessible — with no vehicle needed.
Mulim has grand ambitions for the new trail. He said a sculpture will also be erected on the trail, while the organization is also hoping to host marathon races along the picturesque route.
“It would be this amazing seawall rainforest route that keeps you off the highway and gets you to places that you want to go for activities, but also to the other towns or out to Ridley Road, where people can commute out to work,” he said.
Mulim said that one of the main reasons the Kaien Trails group got together was to make natural spaces and their therapeutic benefits more accessible to the general public.
With the city of Prince Rupert in economic strain due to its numerous infrastructure woes, Kaien Trails stepped in, having rebuilt the Rushbrook Trail in 2018.
According to Milum, every kilometre of the trail will cost $1 million to complete, with Prince Rupert’s notorious land creating a major cost barrier. Muskeg and hard rock covers Kaien Island, meaning construction will be challenging and costly.
“We’re really thrilled to do the breaking ground. Getting that first section done is going to be a really big accomplishment for us,” he said.
The trail will eventually stretch from the Civic Centre all the way to the Galloway Rapids turnoff, near Port Edward. Milum said it will be able to accommodate bikes, strollers, wheelchairs and plenty of pedestrian traffic, though construction will not come cheap.
Design and permitting is also a priority for Kaien Trails, as environmental and archeological studies have to be made throughout the construction process.