MRWA News Release: Model trail system ready to expand

HALIFAX (Kjipuktuk), March 28, 2023 — The McIntosh Run Watershed Association (MRWA) is expanding the McIntosh Run trail system and will be adding 16 km of new backcountry singletrack trails to the  network. Over the last 24 months, MRWA completed a detailed plan for the expansion and secured landowner approvals. The first 3 km of new trails are under construction and will open this spring. MRWA is looking for community help to complete the project.

Local HRM Councillor Patty Cuttell (Spryfield-Sambro Loop-Prospect Rd.) applauds the volunteer-run organization’s efforts, saying “The MRWA trail network makes Spryfield a more vibrant, healthy and liveable community. I’m proud of the work MRWA has done in partnership with HRM.”

Heather Stilwell, Managing Director, Nova Scotia Trails Federation, also praises MRWA’s work to make the wild areas of the McIntosh Run Watershed more accessible to the public.

“The McIntosh Run Watershed Association uses a community-based model for building trails that balances preservation and recreation. I encourage everyone to get out and explore this unique trail system,” she says.

Andrew Feenstra of long-time MRWA sponsor CycleSmith Halifax, says, “We are a proud Trail Sponsor since 2019 because we recognize the positive effect of spending time in this urban wilderness area. We like to give back by supporting places that benefit our community’s wellbeing and mental health. Sponsoring a trail is a way to build the kind of community you’d want to live in.”

A survey of McIntosh Run trail users in 2021 showed that trail use has skyrocketed over the last 5 years and the community wants more trails closer to home. Survey respondents expressed overwhelming support for more trails within the network and indicated that the trail system was a main driver for families choosing to move to the area. Respondents also indicated that maintaining the integrity of natural vegetation, wetlands and watercourses should continue to be a priority.

MRWA is looking for support for the project including volunteers, sponsors, donations and by helping to spread word of the work.

How to help


Interviews are available, on request, with Alice Morgan, President, McIntosh Run Watershed Association at Interviews in French available with board member. 


The McIntosh Run Trail expansion will increase access to the wild land of the watershed to promote appreciation and stewardship of the unique natural landscape. The trails are designed to link multiple neighborhoods with natural-surface singletrack trails. Located only 3 km from the downtown core, the trail system is accessible by transit, active transportation and is used for hiking, mountain biking, trail running, and snowshoeing.

From 2016 to 2021, MRWA built 23 km of trail establishing a world class system of singletrack trail in Atlantic Canada. The trails have been planned, designed, and built with over 12,000 hours of volunteer labor, sponsorship from businesses, and with the support of conservation and recreation organizations, and contributions from the Province of Nova Scotia, and the Halifax Regional Municipality.

New trails will include new frontcountry easy trails, intermediate trails, and rugged, advanced trails in the granite-rich terrains of the McIntosh Run Watershed. Three new trailheads will be added so more people have trails close to home. The McIntosh Run Trails were planned and designed to avoid sensitive habitats and areas where trail use would have a large impact on the natural environment.  An important component in the trail project has been to try and balance conservation and outdoor recreation.

The first 3 km of new trails will be easy ‘green’ level trails that connect the existing Orange Jelly trail to the Norawarren Drive trailhead in Herring Cove. The rest of the new trails will be built as funds and volunteer support allow.

About the McIntosh Run Watershed Association

MRWA is a non-profit volunteer association established in 1996, dedicated to the McIntosh Run river and its watershed. MRWA’s vision is a well-managed watershed that is ecologically sustainable, restores and preserves native species, and enhances a thriving human community who in turn value and steward the watershed.

MRWA’s trail project follows a trails-for-all and a trails-by-all approach. MRWA strives to engage community volunteers, cyclists, hikers, runners, local businesses and nonprofits in trail building and events. MRWA has held events that bring people into wild areas of the Watershed, such as:  river and dryland cleanups; fish-friend and other educational programs with local schools; monitoring water quality and sewage management; advocating for land and river preservation.

MRWA would like to acknowledge the generous contributions of our Trail Sponsors. Our ongoing maintenance work would not be possible without the financial support of the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Province of Nova Scotia.

About the Watershed

The McIntosh Run river has headwaters above Long Lake reservoir and flows 13.5 km to the Atlantic Ocean at Herring Cove. The ‘Run’ name reportedly refers to the salmon runs that used to occur. Over the past 150 years, damming and urbanization have caused significant reductions in wetlands, pine-lichen barrens, and forests, causing changes to river flow and fish including loss of salmon.

More about the trails: Singletrack 101

Images from Phase 1