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Many of us have chosen this summer to stay put, and explore parts of the province we might not have spent time in in the past. We have vacationed differently this year as well – staying longer, visiting interesting spots recommended by locals and immersing ourselves in a beautiful Island summer. With the outdoors the safest place to be this year, Islanders have gotten more active, rediscovering how much fun it is to cycle, kayak, canoe, hike or walk as a way to enjoy our nature trails, red-dirt roads, beautiful red and white sand beaches and picturesque lakes and rivers.

Communities across the Island are getting on board by developing and celebrating some hidden gems. A recent addition to these local treasures is the new Cardigan River Trail, a wonderful new attraction in the postcard- worthy village of Cardigan. So,

with the picturesque marina, the interesting Cardigan Heritage Centre, the World’s Smallest Library, and the Confederation Trail right in the centre of the village, we also now have Cardigan River Trail.

The recently- completed phase one of the Trail starts from the southwest corner of the Cardigan ball field off the Chapel Road, and winds and loops its way through pristine forests and along the undeveloped north bank of the Cardigan River.This first phase, six kilometres long, is hilly in spots and while aimed primarily at mountain biking, is also great for hiking. Phase two, to be completed next year, will double the trail length.

Last week, hearing that the initial phase of the trail was complete, a friend and I from Island Trails jumped at the chance to check it out. The entrance just west of the canteen and the entire trail were well-signed with red arrows. The trail led us through hilly and flat wooded sections, along single and two-track trail, over mossy areas and along a couple of stretches of shore, offering beautiful vistas east towards Cardigan bridge and southwest toward the Shore Road. The trail took us about 90 minutes to complete.

Plans for the Cardigan River Trail were in place before the pandemic and this summer’s staycation trend of course. A few years ago, Reg Conohan, who has lived in Cardigan all his life, had an underutilized piece of property that he suggested to the Province could be suitable for a bike trail. Last year, the province and Cycling PEI took him up on his offer, using a renewable lease arrangement on a donation basis. A crew, led by the master trailmaker Albert Flavell of Parks PEI, spent this summer clearing, grading and finishing the trail, which opened in early September.

This beautiful trail gives locals and visitors another gem to explore in what is turning out to be the year for getting better acquainted with all PEI has to offer. Hope to see you on the trail.

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