With winter approaching, seasonal work is winding down on the stage-by-stage development of Ranney Hill Trail, a former prospecting passage just outside of Yellowknife that’s been reimagined as a multi-use area for gold diggers, dog walkers and educators alike.
The trail, once a hotspot for 1930s and 40s-era gold-seekers, including its namesake Winslow Ranney, has been reworked over the last three years to accommodate recreational users – from tourists to bird watchers – along with prospectors and students.
The ongoing project is made possible by the concerted efforts of about a dozen community organizations, led by the Mining Training Society and TerraX Minerals – some of the groups that form a working committee heading the trail’s development.
With the help of volunteers, the committee — funded by businesses and the North Slave branch of the GNWT’s Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) department — has added several features to the trail over the last few years, with an overall aim to make the area more user-friendly for all those passing through.
For David Connelly, a local mining consultant, the project is an example of outside-the-box thinking from community groups and volunteers.
“Everyone has come together,” said Connelly on the development of the trail, which remains an active prospecting site for TerraX.
This season, benches – built by St. Patrick High School students at the
Kimberlite Career and Technical Centre – and a boardwalk were installed along Ranney Hill Trail.
Acasta HeliFlight Inc. played a large role in shipping the materials to the site.
The work was done by volunteers from local groups – from Yellowknife Scouts to the city’s ski club – who received donations from the committee in exchange for each hour worked along the trail.
This year’s progress follows the implementation of a parking area, signs and gravel added last year, part of a bid to bolster the trail’s interpretive features.
Use of the trail continues to grow year by year, said Connelly.
It’s frequented by tourists, lovers of the outdoors and students.
An Aurora College prospecting course routinely brings post-secondary students to the trail, and the area has seen influx of visits from elementary students as part of their science and geology curriculum each year, Connelly told Yellowknifer.
The mixed usage of the trail is exactly what Connelly and the committee had hoped for.
“The aim is to demonstrate that trails don’t have to be single-use,” said Connelly.
Connelly said Ranney Hill’s popularity as a site for recreation, tourism, prospecting and education has proven trails don’t have to be limited to one specific use.
Connelly expects this year’s round of additions to the trail to wind down at the end of the month.
After that, work will continue next year.
The committee plans to add a trailhead sign at the Ranney Hill Trail in 2020.
That addition will coincide with the planned launch of an interpretative app to guide trail users, said Connelly.