Building Duck ‘n Run trail

Last week the Department of Lands and Forestry inspected Duck’n Run, part of West Pine trail, and the Run bridge. Except for a few details, trails are now good to go. MRWA will install a few caution signs at DLF request, and will open up some sight-lines that we think are important now that shrubs have leafed out. Paperwork for the Bridge needs to be finalized on our end, but hopefully that is not a major delay.

Once everything is a wrap, the DLF Waverly office rep will come out for a confirmation visit and MRWA can put a bow on it all.

I personally think this is a big deal. Duck ‘n Run links both ends of the McIntosh Run system as laid out in 2014, making much longer rides, hikes and runs possible. The route was first scouted and mapped in 2013-2014, and presented in the 2014 Public Consultation meetings in Spryfield. To see trail become a reality is satisfying for many contributors.

Thank-you’s should start with landowners and managers (HRM and Crown) and Mi’kmaq approvals for the McIntosh Run singletrack trails, including Duck ‘n Run. The sanctioned system helps to lock down from urban development a large area only ~3km from the centre of one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. Having a singletrack system in this location is incredible.

Building Duck ‘n Run involved 3589 hours of labour: 1238 hours by volunteers and 2351 hours by MRWA crew.

Work started near the end of June, 2019, and the last boardwalk was finished by volunteers on December 29th. DnR is 2600m long. ~2450m is new trail, with a short piece of adopted trail that received significant upgrades.

Building the first section (with the overhanging rock) was especially difficult, averaging >4 person hours of labour per metre of trail. We expected it to be slow, but it still seemed endless! Fortunately, when we finished in December the total number of hours for the entire trail was close to prediction and we were on budget.

Many people and groups contributed. The Big Three volunteer days that stick in my memory as giant leaps were: AnalyzeRE (20? software developers), Dillon Consulting (for the 3rd year, and also a financial supporter), and Cyclesmith. Cyclesmith is also a major financial supporter and the reason the trail crew gained a now-indispensible Hilti rotary hammer midway into the season.

Contributors to the McIntosh Run Bridge included Councillors Adams, Cleary and Mancini, Mountain Bike Halifax, and VisionAir — the latter performing a helidrop of lumber for the bridge and other structures.

Ducks Unlimited contributed to material and tool costs, as part of the McIntosh Run Treasured Wetland initiative. Everyone should stop to check out the eagles and waterfowl on Duck Pond and West Pine, and the lush wetland above the lower Duck beaver dam. I love that spot.

The 2019 MRWA trail crew was so great. Thanks Sam, Taylor, Emily, Eric, Alexi, Niall, Jonathan. Like a band, there were core members and players that changed during the season. We were usually 3-5 people. We keep learning to solve problems better in what is a crazy landscape to build trails.

— Lawrence Plug, MRWA Trail Committee Chair, May 2020.