Nova Scotia

Seawall Trail planned for Cape Breton could bring economic boost

A group of volunteers is working to create a multi-day walking and hiking trail from Pleasant Bay to Meat Cove in northwestern Cape Breton which it says could generate significant economic activity.

The trail would run from Pleasant Bay to Meat Cove through a protected wilderness area

The Seawall Trail would have an ocean view most of the way. (Dave Williams)

A group of volunteers is working to create a multi-day walking and hiking trail from Pleasant Bay to Meat Cove in northwestern Cape Breton which it says could generate significant economic activity.

"It would be an epic trail," volunteer board member Dave Williams told CBC's Cape Breton Information Morning. 

He says the Seawall Trail has the potential to become one of the world's greatest because it would mostly run along the ocean.

"There's not many assets like that in the world, where you can be up high and the ocean is almost at your feet," said Williams.

He said there would be campsites on the trail and "ultimately even huts, in the European style. We think that's really where we want to go with this."

Trail plans

Williams said huge trails, such as like the Appalachian Trail,  the Pacific Crest Trail or the Way of St. James take a month or more to hike, but the Seawall Trail would be between 50 kilometres and 100 kilometres long and would likely take between three and five days for a trek.

"It's really up to us how long we really want to make it. A lot of the great trails of the world, they're not so long as to go beyond a week's holiday," he said.

The proposed trail runs through a protected wilderness area. (Seawall Trail)

The proposed trail route is easy to find on a map, yet the area is isolated.

"There's trails all over the world that have been built in places as or more isolated than this," said Williams.

The volunteer board doesn't know how much the trail will cost to build, but estimates it will be somewhere between $5,000 and $20,000 per kilometre, depending on whether it is built by volunteers or with the help of private contractors.

Tasmanian trail model

The Overland Track in Tasmania serves as a model for the planning group, says Williams.

The trail is walked by 8,000 people a year and generates more than $16 million in direct and indirect economic activity, says a report posted on the Tasmanian government's website. The report also says the trail generates $1.3 million a year in revenue from things such as trail fees and merchandise sales, and employs the equivalent of 4.5 full-time trail staff.

The proposed route is through a protected wilderness area and Willliams says the volunteer board is working its way through the provincial government's 14-step guide for trail development. It is currently at step four.

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