Offering a mix of exercises, fitness training, an introduction to the Summerstown Trails, and preparation for winter skiing, the Friends of the Summerstown Trails (FOTST) are offering clinics in ski-walking.
Some 30 individuals took part in the first event on September 13 under the direction of instructor René Sauvé.
The group was keen to ensure that “All health measures were followed, with people wearing masks during the intro part, and keeping physically-distanced.”
The one-hour sessions are held each Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m., rain or shine, at the Summerstown Trails, which are located at 6150 County Road 27 (Summerstown Road), north of Summerstown Station and the 401 interchange.
Trails on Raisin Region Conservation Authority properties remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic, as users are reminded to follow physical distancing protocols outlined by health officials.
Locations include the Charlottenburg Park, the Cooper Marsh Conservation Area, and the Gray’s Creek Conservation Area. Only nature trails are open to the public; all other facilities are closed. In addition to maintaining physical distancing, people are reminded to avoid touching any common surfaces as they are not sanitized.
COVID-19 concerns have already had an impact upon the RRCA, including the cancellation of the 2020 Raisin River Canoe Race, a staple of the spring sports calendar. As well, all RRCA buildings have been closed to the public. Committee meetings and workshops through March have been cancelled, as was the planned March Break nature camp for kids. The conservation authority is continuing with its flood forecasting work and is hoping that the Gray’s Creek Marina will open as scheduled on April 27, followed by the Charlottenburg Park opening for camping on May 15.
The Friends of Glengarry Trails Association has scheduled its annual general meeting for Thursday, March 26, starting at 7 p.m. New general members and board members are welcome.
Note/update: AGM has been postponed to April 23.
Board member Patricia Kerr, in a post to the organization’s Facebook page, noted all are invited to attend the meeting, which will be held at The Georgian House Restaurant, 148 Main Street, in Alexandria.
“We invite you to consider being on the Board of Directors of this vital community organization that develops, maintains, and promotes our safe public trails system for outdoor walking, biking, and skiing trails in the Alexandria area,” Kerr added.
“Please consider this opportunity to make a difference in your community by serving as a board member. Being on the Board of Directors contributes to the broader community in so many ways, making possible a safe, public trail system near Alexandria, that supports outdoor recreation, tourism, environmental education, nature connection, and natural heritage in our local area.”
Among items on the agenda for the AGM are a report on the new boardwalk that was installed last fall (accessible from the Lochiel Street entrance to the trails), a report on the StoryWalk Project, the annual financial report, and the annual election of Board of Directors. (Several positions are open for 1-year and 2-year terms.) There will also be a 30-minute presentation on trails of Cuba.
Current members may vote at the AGM, join committees, and stand for election as board members.
It was a perfect day and a record turnout for the Family Day festivities on Monday at the Summerstown Trails, as more than 500 people attended the event organized by the Friends of the Summerstown Trails (FOTST).
There was not a cloud to be seen the whole day, the forest providing protection from the wind and the minus 6-7 temperatures, as the trails stayed hard enough for all to enjoy.
Though the event was scheduled to start at 10 a.m., families started arriving at 9:30 to take advantage of the free cross-country ski and snowshoe equipment on loan. The free fat bike rentals were also very popular, with many trying out this exciting new winter activity for the first time.
By 11 a.m., more than 200 people had arrived on site, and many cars were parked on the road, as the parking lot was already overflowing.
The more than 40 volunteers were kept busy throughout the day, handing out the free equipment and free food, as well as offering directions to those who were visiting the trails for the first time.
A few statistics: 25 dozen hot dogs were consumed, along with 400 homemade cookies, plus uncounted roasted marshmallows, hot chocolate, maple taffy sticks, etc.
FOTST president Vic Leroux was amazed at the number of first-time visitors at the trails, even though this was the ninth annual Family Day event at the Summerstown Trails.
It was great to see so many young children cross-country skiing or snowshoeing for the first time. We even had a 3-year-old on skis, and he did great. They’re our future.
Vic Leroux, FOTST president
At the end of the day, 300 free equipment rentals were made to visitors .
The trails are located on Summerstown Road (SD&G County Road 27), 1.6 km north of exit 804 of the 401 at Summerstown Station, and are open seven days a week. There is no charge to access the trails. Donations are accepted to offset the cost of maintaining the trails. Rental of equipment is available on weekends only. For more information, visit www.summerstowntrails.com or on the Facebook page.
On January 5, the Summerstown Trails officially opened the 2020 winter season, their 50th year of operations.
Dignitaries were on hand, along with close to 150 people who came out to the trails, enjoying the mild temperature and a walk on the forest trails as their was little snow cover.
Martin Bowman, the first president of the Friends of the Summerstown Trails (FOTST), recalled the work and community spirit of the many volunteers, mostly neighbours of the Summerstown Forest, who kept the trails going for the better part of 35 years. With few resources and often using their own personal snowmobiles, these people groomed and maintained the trails, facing much adversity.
Current FOTST president Vic Leroux thanked the many partners and sponsors of the Summertown Trails, noting recent initiatives, including the addition of skate skiing and fat biking activities, new trails, new grooming equipment to better deal with the changing weather conditions, and the construction of a new parking lot adjacent to County Road 27.
The creation of FOTST 10 years ago changed the destiny of the facility, with 1000s of users now visiting the trails every year, both for winter activities and off-season visits.
In addition to making the trails accessible to the population for year-round use, FOTST offers many community programs, including hosting schoolchildren, weekend rental of equipment, and free events, such as Family Day.
The Summerstown Trails offer 18 km of groomed cross-country ski trails, for both classic and skate skiing, and a separate network of 11 km of snowshoe and groomed fat bike trails.
The trails are located on Summerstown Road (County Road 27), 1.6 km north of exit 804 of the 401 at Summerstown Station, and are open seven days a week. There is no charge to access the trails. Equipment rentals are available on weekends and holidays.
The Glengarry Trails offer 13 km of groomed, marked routes in North Glengarry, flanked by Island Park in Alexandria, County Road 43, the southern portion of County Road 45, and Lakeshore Road / Loch Garry.
Conditions are ideal for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Winter walking is also permitted. Five trails are now available, with the seasonal trail recently opened. Users of the green trail should note that the path is shared with the snowmobile club.
The snowfall this week has improved conditions at the Summerstown Trails, with the facility open for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat bike riding.
The official report for January 16
skiing: main A trail groomed for skate skiing, classic skiing only on main A trail to the gravel pit and power lines in good condition
snowshoeing: new snow over a crusty base
fat bike: groomed and in good condition
It’s worth pointing out that trails are established for two types of cross-country skiing. Classic skiing follows parallel tracks where you move your skis in a back-and-forth motion. Skate skiing is done on a flat surface where you push in a side-to-side motion.
On weekends, the facility offers rental equipment, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Rental fees must be paid in cash. Discounts are available for families of four or more, or for groups.
For rent are snowshoes, classic waxless skis with boots/poles, skate skis with boots/poles, and fat bikes with helmet.
The Trails of Glengarry, four trails totalling 15 km, provide a great opportunity for walking in the great outdoors and taking in the natural environment our county has to offer. The four trails are located west of Alexandria, accessible from several points, including Island Park, the hospital, Kenyon Dam Road, and Lakeshore Road. For maps and information, check out this page on the Friends of Glengarry Trails Association website.