Nfld. & Labrador

Hitting the trails this summer? Here're some tips to make it the best experience for everyone

Warm weather and sunny skies mean it's finally feeling like summer on the Avalon Peninsula. It's the perfect time to head out for a hike, but the East Coast Trail Association wants to make sure you can enjoy the trails to the fullest.

Need a brush up on your trail etiquette?

Sean Kennedy of the East Coast Trail Association says the group is seeing a boost in the number of trail users in the early part of the summer. (Submitted/Sean Kennedy)

Warm weather and sunny skies mean it's finally feeling like summer on the Avalon Peninsula. It's the perfect time to head out for a hike, but the East Coast Trail Association wants to make sure you can enjoy the trails to the fullest.

Sean Kennedy, the association's vice-president of marketing, said the group has seen continued growth in trail use in the early stages of 2021, following a boost that came from staycations and travel restrictions last year.

"The trails are an excellent way to be socially distant, and to get out and enjoy nature," Kennedy told CBC Radio's Weekend AM on Saturday. "We've been seeing it across the board. It's pretty exciting."

Kennedy said the trails are also seeing an increase in the number of new hikers who may be using the trail more frequently than in previous years.

So, headed out for the first time? Or just need a brush up on your trail etiquette? Kennedy has some tips.

Avoid open fires

With most trails in the region winding through forests, Kennedy says open fires are a potential danger.

"If you do want to cook on the East Coast Trail, take a camp stove," he said. "We see that a lot and that's great."

Be aware of your surroundings

If you're heading out, Kennedy said, it's important to be aware of what's around you on and off the trail.

That begins in the parking lot. It's important to avoid blocking pathways in case emergency vehicles need access to the trail, and to respect the boundaries of people who live near trails.

The East Coast trail network covers over 300 kilometres across the Avalon Peninsula. (Gary Locke/CBC)

If you're bringing a four-legged friend, Kennedy said dogs must be kept within your control. Rules for something like leashing can vary depending on the community you're hiking in, but Kennedy advised following provincial bylaws found online.

'Pack it in, pack it out'

Kennedy said litter on trails has been an issue in recent years, which can be easily remedied to preserve the beauty of the trail system.

"We call it 'pack it in, pack it out,'" he said. "Don't leave any litter behind.

"The secondary message to that is, 'Take only pictures, leave only footprints.' We encourage hikers to stay on the developed trails so that we can further protect the vegetation and prevent erosion of what's around the trail itself."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Weekend AM

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