A yearlong trail survey is being launched next Thursday in an effort to get a more whole understanding of Hamilton and Burlington's trail systems and who uses them.

The Hamilton Burlington Trails Council and McMaster University are heading the project, which will be one of the most extensive trail surveys ever conducted in Ontario, a press release said.

"We already know that trails play a role in improving well-being and quality of life in communities," said survey coordinator Alex Farquharson. 

"Really, what we are trying to establish is how our trail network can be improved to better meet the needs of our population."

The survey aims to establish such things as: 

  • Who is using the trails?
  • What modes of transportation are being used on the trails or to get to the trails?
  • Where would a trail link be most beneficial?
  • Why are community members choosing to use trails?

Surveys will look specifically at putting together a whole interactive online map of the trails in the two cities, said Wayne Terryberry, HBTC chairperson and McMaster outdoor recreation coordinator.

"We're always finding we need to have more trail user information," he said.

Aside from information, Terryberry said the most important upgrade the trails require is accessibility and amenities like benches and washrooms for an aging population.

The survey groups are looking at other internationally recognized trails – Appalachian, Indianapolis, and Spain – as models for Hamilton and Burlington's paths.

But they're going to need input from locally surveyed trail-walkers, either online or in person, which is going to require volunteers.

Terryberry said the HBTC has between 12 and 15 volunteers for the summer, but they'll be looking for more now and over the course of the year.

"And we're asking those on the trails to take a few minutes out of their day to answer some questions," he said, adding that there was an online option for the impatient trailblazers.

The HBTC and McMaster will be holding an event on July 9th at 9:30 for the survey's launch. Terryberry will be in attendance along with Hamilton Coun. Aidan Johnson and Chris Firth-Eagland of the Hamilton Conservation Authority.

"We're so lucky. We've already got an incredibly scenic view on our trails," said Terryberry. "Now we just want to make sure we have an incredible trail experience."