Two new low-mobility wilderness trails were recently unveiled at Hotnarko Falls and Nimpo Lake by the Cariboo Regional District (CRD).
A third accessible trail, at the Bullion Pit historic site near Likely, will officially open in mid-September.
With the addition of those three new sites, the CRD accessible trail network will include 28 locations.
Funded in part by the B.C. government’s Rural Dividend fund, the low mobility trail project was a co-operative effort involving the regional district, Northern Development Initiative Trust and the West Chilcotin Tourism Association.
“These low-mobility wilderness trails create more opportunities for everyone to enjoy British Columbia’s beautiful and pristine trails,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “Our government funds projects like these in rural communities throughout the province to help create new economic and employment opportunities for the people who call these communities home.”
The three trails are part of a network of accessible trails across the region, designed to facilitate physical activity and outdoor recreation regardless of mobility level. The hard-packed trails are suitable for use with mobility aids such as wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and walkers. They can also accommodate walkers with mobility issues, child strollers, and able-bodied users such as hikers and runners.
The expansion of the low mobility trails network strengthens a niche tourism market in the regional district, catering to an under-served market (visitors with mobility challenges). Those efforts are paying off.
“Low mobility trails in the CRD are now seeing thousands of visitors every year,” said CRD Chair Margo Wagner. “Providing accessible trails expands the market for Cariboo-Chilcotin tourism, delivers greater inclusivity, and can be a driver in attracting and retaining new residents to the region.”
“The Trust is very pleased that these accessible trails are being opened to the public in the CRD,” said Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust. “Now, more than ever, being able to get out and about for physical activity is so important for people of all abilities. Trails like these keep communities moving and are an attraction for those visiting from other parts of our region.”
This allows us as tourism operators to feel comfortable and proud to be able to encourage our guests of all physical abilities to get out and enjoy these trails,” noted Donn Irwin, owner of the Retreat Wilderness Inn and a director with the West Chilcotin Tourism Association. “They are also being very well received and used by the local residents.”