New trail classification system in the works

Kananaskis Country management is proposing a Kananaskis Pathways and Trails Classification System to supplement the Alberta Corridor and Trails Classification System. Gone will be the words designated (official) and undesignated (unofficial), and in their stead trails will be categorized into 6 classes  ranging from paved trails in category A through to scrambles at category F.

The system  is still being worked out, and sorting out the trails into the various categories will take some time. But in the meantime, feel free to comment on the idea.

I’m told that this new system will result in many unofficial trails making the list. Which trails do you think should be included, bearing in mind they should be popular trails? Instantly, the trails up Prairie Mountain and Ha Ling spring to mind.

Trails Classification

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8 comments… add one
  • Southern Alberta Trail Maps Dec 15, 2011, 9:55 am

    It would be great to see a method to allow for volunteer clearing on those E and F trails. With these massive wind storms we have been seeing, clearing by hand saw is not always practical and some trails can become unusable. Perhaps an adopt-a-trail type setup would make sense. Either that or they need to specify an “as needed” maintenance interval for those trails.

  • Alf Skrastins Dec 12, 2011, 11:14 pm

    The point of the new trail classification system is to provide better information for trail users, trail managers and trail maintainers.
    The trail users will have a much clearer description of the kinds of trail quality and maintenance standards that they can expect to find on any specific section of trail. At the present time, they only know that the trail is officially “designated” or is an unofficial “route”.
    With the new system, Information Centre staff would be able to advise people about the existence of many lower standard trails that are not currently “official”. If a trail is not “official” under the current inadequate system, then it is never mentioned on trail reports or at info centers.
    The new classification system would allow managers to tell paid trail crews to maintain different trails to different standards. Under the current system, when there is no money in the budget to maintain all “official” trails to the same standard, then trails are simple “undesignated” and no longer maintained at all.
    The new system would allow volunteer trail crews to maintain a whole range of trails at different standards, rather than only being allowed to work on an ever shrinking number of ” official” trails.
    Finally, logging and oil companies are required to make an effort to avoid damaging and/or rehabilitate “officially recognized” trails. Obviously, they are not required to pay any attention to “unofficial” trails, because they don’t really exist on the government inventory. With this new system, most of the “undesignated” trails would at least be officially recognized as existing.
    The new system is commonly used in other jurisdictions an is a huge improvement over the old overly simplistic system.

  • Derek Ryder Dec 11, 2011, 11:34 pm

    I agree with Ms. Ford. The purpose of this is what, exactly? I doubt it will result in better trail maintenance. Is someone trying to reduce their liability by being clearer on what folks are getting themselves into? It strikes me as a pointless waste of money — money that could be much better spent on trail signage & maintenance.

  • Gillian Ford Dec 10, 2011, 9:02 am

    So what??
    Unless it means more maintenance
    Just read the guide book

  • thepassionatehiker Dec 8, 2011, 8:59 pm

    Just another immediate comment. If we start to create so many categories, then we need to do a thorough job and include other categories such as “subject to river levels” for trails such as Sheep Trail, Junction Creek Trail, Cataract Creek (from the Highwood Road) Trail, most of the great trails beyond the Highwood such as Loomis Lake, Odlum Creek, etc, etc and the many other trails where access depends on river crossings.

    And then there perhaps should be a category showing high trails which are subject to late opening due to snow not having yet melted, perhaps the Plateau Mountain road, Grizzly Ridge and the high trails accessed from the Highwood Pass.

    Then another category for trails only accessible from a vehicle starting point when winter gates are opened. And so on.

    The point is that to do a really thorough job of helping hikers decide where to hike, there are other factors which they should be aware of when selecting a suitable trail to venture out on.

    And then, if there is a category for “scramble”, how is this defined, as we should make it clear between a simple “hikers scramble” where regular hikers can safely go, for instance the short step on the way up Mt Baldy from Baldy Pass, as opposed to really tricky scrambles where regular hikers should think twice, such as perhaps the full length of Nihahi Ridge or Bluerock Ridge.

    So, by adding MORE info, we are potentially causing more perceived certainty where none really exists, and might even mislead lesser knowledgeable hikers.

    So much for that short comment!

  • thepassionatehiker Dec 8, 2011, 8:40 pm

    My immediate reaction to this system – without giving it any time to sink in – is that it seems unnecessarily complicated and bureaucratic. Not sure I really understand what it does for the regular hiker. Six “classes” of trail seem too many to me. Look forward to learning more about this. Happy to be proven wrong and to find this really makes a big positive difference to my hiking experience.

  • Gillean Daffern Dec 8, 2011, 1:28 pm

    The no maintenance trails would be looked after by the users. We (scramblers, hikers, bikers, outfitters) do that anyway. Will find out what the regulations are re the use of chainsaws.
    Re the trail around Hidden Lake, this new classification system should make it easier to suggest a class E trail through the bush for when the lake is high. There is a trail part of the way but it needs clearing of deadfall. Is this a priority with everyone going to Aster Lake and on? .On the other hand, it deters people who perhaps shouldn’t be there.

  • Gérard Lachapelle Dec 7, 2011, 9:55 pm

    My initial reaction is that I have reservations on the “no maintenance” plan on Class E and F (routes), although I am not sure how many trails or routes might be classified as such I would like to see deadfall clearance seasonally on many “not so quiet” trails (Examples are Memorial Lakes, Old Baldy, Aster Lake, to name a few). Deadfalls dating back to 15+ years are still resulting in detours, trail braiding and the possibility of impaling oneself on branches. The lower trail section from Upper K Lake to Aster Lake is atrocious in this respect! Yet an experienced person with a chain saw visiting these trails once per year for 1/2 day could solve these problems.

    Gérard L

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