Upgrades are coming to the Skattebo Reach Trail (SRT) to improve access for both cyclists and bikers.
The trail is about 12 kilometres long and connects the Ootischenia area to Glade along the east bank of the Kootenay River.
The trail was originally built by the Castlegar Parks and Trails Society (CPTS) about 20 years ago. The group still maintains the trail and will be managing the upgrades.
The SRT has been designated as part of the Great Trail — also sometimes referred to as the Trans Canada Trail — that crosses the entire country.
It is also a key component for a major recreational trail network which, when completed, will connect the main cities in the West Kootenay (Trail, Castlegar and Nelson) with an off-highway, primarily non-motorized access route along the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers.
The trail will continue to be designated for non-motorized use only.
CPTS says hiking the entire length of the Skattebo Reach Trail is suitable for fit hikers. While biking is permitted, it is only suitable for expert mountain bikers. Portions of the trail are rugged and you have to carry your bike along certain parts of it.
The proposed upgrades will improve access and allow less skilled cyclists to ride the trail, as well as make hiking the entire trail a less strenuous and more pleasant experience for those who prefer to walk.
The project is expected to cost about $175,000. It is being funded by grants from the Regional District of Central Kootenay, the Trans Canada Trail organization and the Columbia Basin Trust.
Slightly over half of the 12-km trail length will be improved.
Portions that will not be upgraded are the southernmost two kilometers between the Brilliant Bridge and the Brilliant Terminal Station and three km at the north end of the trail near Glade.
CPTS says the portion between Brilliant Bridge and the Brilliant Terminal Station is too rugged, steep and costly to upgrade. It is suited to strong hikers with good mobility.
Hikers can begin the trail after the rugged section at an access point that is reachable by car.
The three km section between the Glade trailhead and the project end is an existing dirt road and does not need upgrading.
CPTS says once work begins next spring there may be some disruptions to access. These will be minimized, as much as possible, so that portions of the trail can still be enjoyed while the work is ongoing.
Landowner concerns will be addressed over the next few weeks and the consultation phase will last through Oct. 9.
CPTS is encouraging the public to provide comments and queries about the project before Oct. 9. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.