Results of the 2021 Trail Survey

Results of the 2021 Trail Survey

In Fall 2021, the McIntosh Run Watershed Association (MRWA) conducted online and in-person user surveys for the McIntosh Run Trails, the system of singletrack trails that MRWA builds and manages on HRM and Crown lands in the McIntosh Run watershed and adjoining lands.

Thanks to everyone that participated!

The results showed that the trails are incredibly important to a lot of people in the immediate community and beyond. There are extremely high levels of satisfaction with the trails. The change most in demand is more trails. Most users identify land and water conservation as important priorities when building and managing trails.

Your feedback is being used to shape the next phase of trail development and planning, and help justify funding and land-access requests.

Below is a digested version of what we found in the online trail surveys. To read more about why MRWA conducted the survey and the methodology, click here. To download the full results for all 53 questions in the online survey click here.

Who uses the trails, why, and your general level of satisfaction with the trails:

  • 32% of respondents live within 2km of a trailhead; 56% in other HRM; 12% outside HRM (some respondents were from outside the Maritimes).
  • Biking, hiking, running, dog walking were all identified as main uses of the trails by respondents, with mountain biking most common. Most respondents (bikers in particular) use the trails in multiple modes.
  • People use the trails for exercise, mental health, fun and recreation, and to connect with nature (all of these reasons were chosen by at least 80% of respondents)
  • 94% of respondents say the trails are very important or extremely important to them; 82% say pandemic has made the trails more important to them.
  • 95% say the trail conditions are good or excellent, and 95% say they recommend the trails to others. 81% say the signage and trail markings are good to excellent. 87% say the safety and security along the trails is good or excellent.

People move to the area because of the trails. The trails generate significant revenue through trail tourism.

  • 49% of local residents say the trails were a factor in their decision to live in the area, or would have been a factor (for those who already lived in the area before the trails were built).
  • 12% of respondents are visitors from outside Halifax. They stay 1 to 3 days and on average spend $500 during their visit, mostly on restaurants and accommodations. Nearly everyone says they’ll be back.
  • Most visitors said the trails are the major or only reason for visiting Halifax (70%).

Very few significant problems were identified on the current trails, but MRWA will use your feedback to shape future work and our work with HRM and NS-DNRR.

  • Most respondents do not perceive any significant problems on the trails. The survey listed 13 potential problems, all of which were rated as “not a problem” by 64% or more respondents. No respondents selected “other problems” or provided one.
  • Some issues were highlighted as moderate problems by some respondents: i) erosion and poor drainage on some trails (~33% of respondents); trail widening and braiding (31%); dog poop; problem dogs; bikers who don’t yield when they should. MRWA has flagged these for consideration and proactive strategies, which will likely require cooperation with HRM and the Crown.
  • Preventing vegetation trampling, spread of exotic species, and negative impacts on wetlands were see as a high priority by at least half of respondents. MRWA is incorporating this into trail management in cooperation with HRM and the Crown.

Your main request is: More trails! Options for longer rides and hikes! More parking and restrooms are also important to almost half of respondents.

  • “More trails” is the #1 improvement requested by respondents (75%).
  • There is demand for new singletrack trails of all difficulty levels but especially blue-square (intermediate), then black (expert) and green (easy). Double black (expert extreme) is the least in demand but still important. MRWA’s current plans for Phase 2 include all four levels, roughly corresponding to the demand but within the limitations set by natural terrain.
  • 81% of respondents want more long backcountry-style route options, which give 4+ hour rides and all-day hikes. About 50% are moderately or very interested in even longer options, i.e. overnight bikepacking or backpacking (this is not feasible in the footprint of Phase 2, but may be considered in a Phase 3 of trail development).
  • Other improvements identified by respondents are more parking (46%), public restrooms (45%), bike lanes leading to trailheads (29%) and more trail navigation markings (29%).