The existing trail network includes trails which are well-used or have potential to be, as well as some which are redundant or poorly placed. The existing network also includes a variety of trail types, ranging from the well-maintained wood chip and gravel trails to rugged paths. Certain trails are well-used and enjoyed in their current condition, but others are too difficult to navigate for most trail users. Maintaining a variety of trail types is desired, but there is work to be done to bring all trails within the proposed network up to a suitable standard. Some existing trails should be improved, others removed, and several new trails should be added to the network to improve connectivity.
Three trail categories for the proposed network, based on width, surface, and level of accessibility, are introduced in the link below. They correspond to the HRM’s recreational trail standards, which are defined in the linked document below (HRM Recreational Trail Standards).
Active Transportation Trails
The Mainland North Trail currently provides important access for walkers and cyclists to the amenities along the Mainland Common and through the Halifax Mainland area. As development increases, a connection from the residential neighbourhoods on Regency Park Drive and Washmill Lake Drive to the Mainland North Trail will be necessary. The development plan for the Regency Park Drive Extension includes a piece of land that will be designated as parkland, through which an active transportation connection could be made. This route will be comprised of a new trail section, built to standards similar to the Mainland North Trail, linked to an existing gravel trail which will be widened and upgraded from gravel to a crusher-dust surface. This trail will be suitable for all users, including cyclists, pedestrians, and people in wheelchairs.
Improved Access Nature Trails
The gravel and wood chip trails are the most well-used trails in the existing network. The wood chip trails are particularly well-loved for their soft and quiet surface, and natural feel. These trails are well-maintained and have an even surface that is suitable for most users. For the most part, these trails should continue to be maintained as they are, ensuring a consistent surface and that vegetation encroaching on the paths is kept adequately trimmed.
The trail from the BMO Soccer Centre parking lot to the large wetland is currently a rough and informal path. Upgrading it to the standard of the wood chip or gravel trails will provide comfortable access to a scenic part of the Common that is currently only accessed by rugged nature trails.
The rugged natural surface trails on the western side of the network provide a wilderness experience and allow users to feel that they are immersed in the landscape rather than just moving through it. However, there are sections where casual use and lack of planning has created braided networks of trails, swampy trail sections, and redundant routes. The nature trails have an uneven surface, with obstacles such as rocks and roots, and are difficult to navigate for many users.
Widening the footprint of most of these nature trails and adding a light natural or crusher dust surface will provide a more comfortable single track for walking or running, and will allow greater access.
Remediation techniques will be used to remove and naturalize redundant or poorly placed trail sections, so that users are guided to follow the designated routes.
Several new or improved trailheads are proposed to assure residents in the nearby areas have easy access to the new trails.
- A primary trailhead is proposed to be near the parking lot at the BMO Soccer Centre. A small trailhead area will increase visibility and access to the trail network. Improved landscaping around the trail access point will also improve overall aesthetics.
- A secondary trailhead on Regency Drive will give access to the western portion of the park.
- A secondary trailhead on Thomas Raddall Dr. opposite Halifax West High School will allow access to students and their teachers.
- Once the Regency Park Dr. - Washmill Lake development is completed, another primary trailhead will be built giving access to the AT route.
Existing Trailheads to be improved
- Primary trailhead to current loop trail from parking lot at top of Westridge Dr.
- Secondary trailhead to current loop trail from Mainland North Trail
- Primary trailhead to gravel section of loop trail from apartment building at 333 Main Avenue.
Because the Nature Trail network is adjacent to the many amenities of the Mainland Common, the Regency Park Drive extension will be a high-traffic route for active transportation users of all types, including people on their way to and from the Mainland Common Nature Trails. There is an existing sidewalk along the Mainland Common side of Regency Park Drive, and at the minimum this should be continued the length of the extension. Preferably, a separated, paved multi-use pathway could be installed along this corridor. This would connect at Thomas Raddall Drive to the paved pathways that leads past the high school and towards the other public facilities on the Mainland Common.
As the population of the surrounding residential areas grows, there will be a growing amount of pedestrian traffic on these trails. There will also be increased vehicle traffic on roads bordering the Nature Trails like Thomas Raddall Drive and Regency Park Drive, particularly after the Regency Park Drive extension and development is completed. In order to ensure safe arrival and departure from the trail network, crosswalks should be installed as needed at points of high traffic where trails meet roadways. There is an existing crosswalk where the Mainland North Trail crosses Westridge Drive, and at the intersection of Thomas Raddall Drive and Regency Park Drive. Additional crosswalks would be beneficial:
- On Thomas Raddall Drive between the school parking lot and the Nature Trails; and
- It will also likely be necessary to install a crosswalk within the new development on the Regency Park Drive extension, but exact placement will have to be determined once final construction plans are complete.
Wet area needing a low level puncheon
Trail and trailhead to be remediated to protect fire hydrant
Existing Primary Trailhead sign off Westridge Dr. parking lot.
Existing Secondary Trailhead off Mainland North Trail
Proposed Primary Trailhead location at BMO Soccer Centre