A volunteer group is trying to figure out which signs need to be fixed or replaced on backcountry trails in Kananaskis Country.
Many of the trails on public land in the area west of Calgary are decades old and the signs and markers are sometimes outdated, hard-to-find or damaged.
Friends of Kananaskis Country is organizing volunteers to hike between June 24 and July 10 and keep track of the condition of not only the signs, but also the trails, bridges, boardwalks, and culverts using GPS on a provided tablet.
“We are really going to be looking at the conditions of trails that are specifically on the public land use zone of Kananaskis Country, inventorying trail condition and noting signage,” executive director Nancy Ouimet told the Calgary Eyeopener.
“This information will be informing the trail team and helping them prioritize where site visits need to take place to assess the damage and look at solutions.”
Volunteer hikers will receive training to make sure the results are consistent.
“What you may think is a safety concern, such as an exposed root or a bit of a crack in the trail, is possibly more of a trail feature,” said Ouimet.
‘Pretty simplistic’ signs
Many signs in the area are not very helpful and don’t represent best-practices in trail signage, said David Mills, a spokesperson for the Calgary Mountain Bike Alliance, who spends a lot of time in the area.
“They are pretty simplistic. Some of them have distances between where you are, and let’s say the next junction, but not all of them do. Most of them have their paint scratched off by people poking at them with hiking poles and ski poles.”
The project is a partnership with an Alberta Environment and Parks team that’s helped rebuild backcountry trails on public land in the Kananaskis after the 2013 floods.