Hidden among the communications reports to South Frontenac Council this week was the quarterly report by one of the most active volunteers in the township, and likely one of the most active trail cyclists in the township, Robert Charest from the Perth Road area. Charest is a member of the township’s trail committee, and he reports on the upkeep of the trails to Council.
His interest in the trails started when he moved to the area in 2005, and finding that he lived right on the Cataraqui (Cat) Trail he took to trail cycling. Cycling, along with kayaking and skiing in the winter, has become a way of life for him. He uses the trails near his house often.
He has taken on responsibility for maintenance on some sections of the trail, including the picturesque section that’s runs northeast between Perth Road and Chaffey’s Locks just over the county line.
He spends some time each spring and autumn cutting up deadfall along the trail with a chain saw, He also takes the trail to go to Sydenham to buy groceries and rides regularly on the whole Frontenac County Trail system, including the new K&P sections.
In this month’s report he summarised some of his observations about the trail from the past year. The first point he made is that trail usage is up, both for cyclists and hikers, the busiest section being the Cat Trail section between Sydenham and Perth Road. He also made note of the improvement in the section that runs west from Harrowsmith to the Lennox and Addington County border, which was resurfaced using $17,500 in township funds.
“We have a nice trail surface from the Loughborough/Portland Boundary Road all the way to the Strathcona Paper Plant [near Napanee], a 30 kilometre stretch. The trail ends at the plant, and one of Charest’s wishes for 2018 is to see the trail extended another 12 or 13 kilometres into Napanee. On the other end of the trail, he would like to see a Cat Trail extension from Smiths Falls to Carleton Place, a 30 km stretch.
But along with those loftier goals he had some more specific recommendations that can be implemented more easily, and cheaply.
Those include, among others: new signage to mark the distance between hamlets of main roads; identifiable shirts for trail volunteers to make it easier for trail users to access information and assistance; picnic tables or benches and garbage cans at the parking lots on Road 38 and Perth Road; a large trail map in Sydenham, and resurfacing of a section of a small section of trail near Sydenham.
Finally, Charest thinks “South Frontenac should become an off-road cycling hub,” linking Kingston, Sharbot Lake, Napanee, and Carleton Place.
“Harrowsmith and Sydenham should ante up the offering of services and facilities to cater to all these cyclists,” he concluded.