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Trail Management

Trail Management

Management Plan for the Lang-Hastings Trail

September 2013

Authored by Kelly Weste, MCIP, RPP

This document was produced in conjunction with the Peterborough-Hastings Trans Canada Trail Association members:

President – Barry Diceman
Secretary – Peter Elmhirst
Treasurer – Michael Evans
Director – James Paré
Director – Kevin English



The Policies & Procedures which follow are guidelines that shall serve as a tool for present and future members of the Peterborough-Hastings Trans Canada Trail Association (the Association) for managing the trail.

Vision for the Trail

As part of the Trans Canada Trail, the longest trail build in Canada, the ‘Lang-Hastings Trail’ will be sought out by many, and admired by local communities as a unique and healthy lifestyle choice and natural heritage wonder to take pride in.

Mandate of the Peterborough-Hastings Trans Canada Trail Association

The Peterborough-Hastings Trans Canada Trail Association is an incorporated, non-profit organization dedicated to the operation, maintenance and promotion of the ‘Lang-Hastings Trail,’ a 33 kilometer trail developed on the abandoned Canadian National Railway rail bed between Peterborough, Ontario and the Trent River at Hastings, Ontario.  The property on which the trail has been developed is leased by the Association from the Province of Ontario.

Mission Statement

The Peterborough-Hastings Trans Canada Trail Association is working with local authorities and raising necessary funds to operate and preserve the Peterborough to Hastings section of the Trans Canada Trail. The trail will provide a long lasting entity, allowing visitors to come and enjoy healthy lifestyle choices while taking in the natural heritage that the area has to offer.

Project Background

The Association is a community-based committee with representatives from interested communities members and local user groups. It was incorporated on August 10, 2012.  A ‘Board Members Manual’ was adopted by the Association’s Board of Directors at its November 15, 2012 meeting, which provides a framework for the governance and administration of the Association. 

Management Policies

Policies to deal with specific areas of concern are crucial to consistent and appropriate actions for trail management. It is important that these policies be grounded in principles that the Association upholds to the highest degree. The core principles noted below were developed and the Trans Canada Trail Board approved in March 2009 as stated in Greenways – Vision and Core Principles The Association endeavours to operate and manage the Lang-Hastings Trail under this articulation of core principles.  

Core Principles

The Trans Canada Trail is committed to: 

  • provide a safe and enjoyable trail experience on high quality trail 
  • promote an active and healthy lifestyle 
  • preserve green space, encourage active transportation, and protect the environment 
  • as a priority, develop a greenway trail that promotes non-motorized uses in summer (walking, hiking, cycling horseback riding, and canoeing on water routes), as well as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling on some trail segments, in winter 

This management plan is intended to be a living document and that as the need arises modifications or additions to management policies outlined can be changed by the Association by majority vote. 

Project Funding

The Association is responsible for fundraising activities required to develop, maintain and operate the trail. It is a not-for-profit volunteer-based entity with extremely limited funding. This constraint means that the Association must make difficult decisions regarding its investments. There are also many unknowns, and flexibility is required. 

Management Policies:

  • ¥ The Association will:

  1. a. Develop a funding strategy to identify possible funding sources, both public and private
  2. b. Develop a long term funding strategy to address operation and maintenance costs
  3. c. Co-ordinate among local initiatives for trail development/usage as well as between other trail groups
  4. d. Develop revenue-generating events and products
  5. e. Promote a user pay policy which could include memberships permits, licenses and contributions
  6. f. Support community-based trail initiatives and/or trail-related projects

Trail Use

The Lang-Hastings Trail is a greenway trail and its uses are restricted to five core uses: hiking/jogging, cycling, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

The development of the Lang-Hastings Trail was made possible by private donations and public funds.  All funders stipulated that the Lang-Hastings Trail be a greenway trail. The operation of motorized vehicles damages the surface of the trail, adversely affects the environment and increases the cost of maintenance.

Management Policies:

  • ¥ No motorized vehicles will be allowed on the trail, except for snowmobiles bearing a valid OFSC permit; electric-powered wheelchairs; maintenance, operation and emergency vehicles; as well as electric bicycles which meet the definition of ‘motor-assisted cycle’ under the Ontario Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the operator is wearing a CPSC certified bicycle helmet
  • ¥ No parking will be permitted on the trail or within the trail right-of-way, unless designated within a trailhead area
  • ¥ Enforcement strategies will be developed to discourage unauthorized users
  • ¥ Barriers or gates will be erected at all road crossings to prevent unauthorized access by motorized vehicles
  • ¥ Signs shall be erected indicating authorized and/or unauthorized use
  • ¥ Public awareness programs will be developed through local newspapers, brochures and signage about permitted trail use
  • ¥ Snow plowing of the trail will not be permitted
  • ¥ Maintenance, operation and emergency vehicles shall be permitted access to the trail

Agricultural Access

The Association shall permit continued access for existing agricultural operations and will respect any written access agreements between the Canadian National Railway and private landowners which are in existence. No linear travel on the trail for motorized agricultural vehicles is permitted. No new trail crossing or access agreements will be issued to property owners, whether landlocked or accessible by other means.

Management Policies:

Agricultural Crossings

  • ¥ farm operators permitted to cross the trail will be issued written agreements with the Association outlining their designated crossing(s) and the conditions of their agreement
  • ¥ Signs will be posted as required to warn of potential safety issues around farm crossings and to educate trail users of ongoing farming practices
  • ¥ Those landowners whose crossing activity degrades the trail may be required to contribute time and/or materials for trail maintenance. If such activities are unsafe, incompatible with permitted users or significant damage is done to the environment these activities may be barred from further use of the trail
  • ¥ No new trail crossing agreements will be issued to property owners, whether landlocked or accessible by other means
  • ¥ All crossing agreements/requests will be reviewed by the Association’s Board of Directors

Non-agricultural Access

  • ¥ Persons wishing to access the trail using motorized vehicles for purposes other than farming shall not be permitted, unless a valid written agreement between CN and the landowner or user is produced to the Board of Directors
  • ¥ The Association may allow a non-agricultural crossing under prescribed conditions. These conditions may include provisions of use, fees payable and agreement renewals
  • ¥ Motorized vehicle access (travel along the trail) for any distance to access private property, whether landlocked or accessible by other means is strictly prohibited
  • ¥ Existing or future uses such as saw mill operation, sand pit operation, mineral extraction, access for cutting and hauling fuel wood and/or saw logs from wood lots will not be permitted to travel any portion of the trail
  • ¥ The Association shall oppose the creation of any new development that would depend upon the trail to provide access
  • ¥ All crossing agreements/requests will be reviewed by the Association’s Board of Directors


Management Policies

  • ¥ No firearms or hunting will be permitted on the trail


The best way to improve safety on a trail is through use of that trail. To augment use, the Association will develop policing strategies by using volunteer and/or police patrols along the trail. Primarily, the Association will rely on users self-policing and proper use of the trail for recreation and active transportation. 

Formalized trail patrols are a useful technique to improve safety on the trail, to educate users on how to reduce environmental impacts, to provide directions and first aid, and to identify sections of the trail requiring maintenance work. 

Management Policies

  • A good working relationship between police authorities (OPP) and the Association will be encouraged for the entire length of the trail 
  • Trail patrols will be done by volunteers through a system of pre-assigned trail sections and patrol scheduling
  • The Association will also encourage reporting from abutting landowners of any misconduct, damage or illegal dumping on the trail
  • Trail patrols shall be evaluated annually for effectiveness and should identify potential improvements to the system
  • For health related emergencies trail patrollers and users should call emergency services 911. If there are concerns of trail condition and safety, comments should be sent through the website 


Trail signs are an important element that enhances the trail experience and provides guidance to the user. A system of signs has been established to respond to five basic functions:

a) Regulatory/Warning

b) Identification

c) Directional

d) Information/Interpretive

e) Donor recognition

Management Policies

  • All trail signage will be kept to a minimum, simplified and placed to communicate effectively. Urban situations attract higher levels of pedestrian and cycle traffic and may require more signs than rural sections of the trail. Similarly, winter signage for snowmobilers will differ from that for three season users. However, this signage may be put up and removed each season by the local snowmobile clubs and will conform to current OFSC standards.
  • Each of the five signage types will be co-ordinated in scale and design to achieve a consistent signage system
  • The colour and scale must also by in keeping with the site conditions and specific users. For example, equestrian trail users are higher than hikers and to allow the horseback rider to view signs effectively, the tops of most signs will be no lower than 2.5 metres off grade. Larger information/identification signs will be no lower than 3.0 metres off grade at their top edge. Also when winter trail signage is installed special attention must be paid to the mounting height to account for snow cover
  • All signs will be easy to read and understand, unobstructed by vegetation and placed so they face the anticipated direction of traffic
  • Graphic symbols incorporated into signage will be simple, immediately recognizable and consistent. Wherever possible, graphics and symbols will be used in addition to text because they are recognizable at a glance from greater distances and by a wider range of users
  • Where required, logos and sponsor’s symbols will not detract from the sign’s clarity and will be used only at specific location along the trail such as major entrances or interpretative features
  • Advertisement signs by third parties will not be permitted on the trail without the written permission of the Association
  • To communicate to all speeds of users, the lettering and symbols shall be visible and legible from a distance without being oversized and visually obtrusive
  • Design guidelines for on and off trail signs have been provided by Regional Tourism Organization 8 (RTO8) and will be incorporated into any future signage plans. 


Trail design uses simple construction techniques and low maintenance materials to develop a safe and aesthetically pleasing trail. The overall costs of building and maintaining the trail are minimized through a thoughtful trail design, quality construction methods and durable materials.

Management Policies

  • A maintenance and operations plan, including a budget, will be developed to outline the year-to-year activities required for safe trail operation
  • A trail code of conduct has been developed (see Appendix A) and will be communicated in signage, brochures and other communication tools which will promote the “pack-in, pack-out” concept for garbage, as no trash receptacles will be provided in parking areas or along the trail
  • No persons shall perform any type of work (i.e. ditching, construction, soil excavation, paving) within the right–of-way unless written permission is granted by the Association
  • Any items illegally dumped within the right-of-way will be removed as promptly as possible by the Association. The cost of removal of illegally dumped items will be charged to the offender

Development Pressures

The length and linear character of the trail is a unique opportunity that should not be lost to development pressures. Therefore it is the priority of the Association to preserve the right-of-way. Proposed plans and policies that affect the trail adversely shall be opposed by the Association.

Management Policies

  • • It is the priority of the Association to preserve the right-of-way for the purpose of maintaining a continuous uninterrupted recreational trail
  • • The Association will request to be circulated on all Planning Act development applications abutting the trail
  • • The Association will oppose the creation of any new lots that would depend upon the trail to provide access to that property
  • • When private development outside of the trail boundary threatens the scenic and aesthetic value, native vegetation may be planted on the right-of-way to provide screening 
  • • The Association will not permit encroachments of any kind (temporary or permanent) without the prior written permission of the Association. Any unauthorized encroachments will be removed from the right-of-way at the cost of the person or organization responsible for the encroachment 

Human Resources

The spirit of volunteerism within communities along the trail will be relied on to further the efforts of the Association.  The maintenance, security and promotion of the trail will provide various opportunities for volunteers including spring and winter maintenance programs, trail patrols and stimulating trail memberships and organizing trail celebration events. Citizen support through volunteerism promotes a sense of ownership toward the trail, and when volunteers develop a strong personal attachment to the project they act as advocates for the trail.

An active network of volunteers is important in order to lower volunteer “burn out.”  Volunteer management is important to asses in the organization of volunteers and the demands placed upon them. Helping volunteers focus their energy on specific tasks will give them a better sense of purpose. They will feel they are using their time wisely and once the task is complete, they will have a greater sense of accomplishment. 

Management Policies

  • A method for recruiting volunteers shall be developed, which outlines how to enlist new volunteers and how to sustain volunteer enthusiasm 
  • The Association shall:
    1. Clearly define the roles and activities of volunteers
    2. Set up a system to organize volunteers for trail maintenance, patrolling and operation
    3. Limit personal cost for volunteers
    4. Take advantage of shared resources by working with local, regional, provincial, natural and international recreational associations, trail-building organizations, tourism development agencies and others
    5. Develop awareness of volunteer efforts through internal and external communications

Importance of Trail Connections and Networks

The Lang-Hastings Trail will directly link Peterborough to Hastings. This 33 km recreational trail forms part of the official route of the Trans Canada Trail. There are additional opportunities to connect “feeder” trails to the Lang-Hastings Trail in order to create a network of trails. This network connects tourism infrastructure (i.e. restaurants, hotels, bed & breakfasts, commercial/retail establishments) throughout the region and can multiply the economic benefits for tourism. 

Management Policies

  • Where possible and appropriate, the Association will endeavour to integrate the Lang-Hastings Trail with other trails to generally support a regional network of trails


The Lang-Hastings Trail was designed using guidelines provided by the Trans Canada Trail ( The purpose of design guidelines is to recommend a minimum standard for trail development which incorporates user compatibility and safety. The design guidelines accommodate the five core uses of the trail: hiking, cycling, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Cleaning and trimming vegetation within the drainage space will be done on an as required basis. The tread width will be maintained to 3 metres unless restricted by topography or other factors.

User Compatibility and Code of Conduct

The Association expects users to self-regulate their activities and minimize the potential for conflict with other trail users and adjacent landowners. A code of conduct informs a user of what’s expected in their behaviour and use of the trail. The code of conduct can be communicated at access points, in literature produced for the trail and by word-of-mouth. A code of conduct will encourage consideration, co-operation and compromise among all trail users.

Management Policies

  • The Association adopted a code of conduct for trail use and a strategy for communicating it to trail users will be developed
  • The code of conduct addresses:
  • Trail users’ interactions with each other
  • Trail users’ interaction with adjacent landowners
  • Trail users’ interactions with wildlife
  • Trail use and the respect owed to nature
  • Trail and expected/appropriate behaviour
  • The code of conduct may be promoted through the website, signs, printed materials, safety days and trail related events
  • Self-regulation among trail users will be promoted through public awareness and education
  • Cycling and horseback riding must be limited to the trail surface
  • Property rights and security of private landowners must be respected
  • The Association has adopted a good neighbour policy presented by the Kawartha Trail group (Appendix B) 
  • Some uses may be limited during times of heavy rain and spring thaw
  • Trail modifications may be considered if incompatibility of uses poses safety hazards 

Noise and Privacy

The issue of noise and/or privacy will vary for each affected landowner. The heart of these issues is having people comfortable with their proximity to the trail. The Association encourages screening or buffering for those residents who feel it is necessary. New trail developments (i.e. parking and/or staging areas) may require additional buffering and/or screening. This will be incorporated into future designs of these types of areas.

Management Policies

  • Where possible, entrances and parking lots will be located and screened with vegetation to minimize disturbance to neighbours
  • Motorized vehicles are not permitted on the trail, except maintenance, operation and emergency vehicles and snowmobiles during the winter season
  • Snowmobile speed limits will be posted and enforced by the Snowmobile Trail Warden System of the Rice Lake Snowdrifters, in conjunction with the police
  • Where situations warrant, site specific design will be undertaken to resolve extreme noise and privacy problems

Appendix A ~ Code of Conduct

Guidelines for Lang-Hastings Trail Use 

  • ¥ Respect the privacy of people living along the trail
  • ¥ Hunting or carrying firearms on the trail is prohibited
  • ¥ Motorized vehicles (other than snowmobiles with a valid Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs [OFSC] permit) are prohibited
  • ¥ Leave the trail cleaner than you found it – carry out litter
  • ¥ Take nothing but photographs
  • ¥ Do not disturb wildlife or farm animals
  • ¥ Keep dogs on a leash at all times
  • ¥ Clean up after dogs and horses
  • ¥ Respect and obey trail signs
  • ¥ Stay to the trail – no trespassing on private property
  • ¥ Respect other trail users and protect the quality of their experience
  • ¥ Be courteous; move over to allow others to pass
  • ¥ Alert slower moving users to your presence, slow down and proceed with caution as you pass them (usually on the left)
  • ¥ Do not block trail entrances or park on the trail at any time
  • ¥ Camping or fires are prohibited
  • ¥ Preserve the past; examine, but do not touch cultural or historical structures and artifacts.

Appendix B ~ Good Neighbour Policy

Purpose: This policy provides clarity on the relationship between the Peterborough to Hastings Trans Canada Trail Association  (PHTCTA) and adjacent land owners, permitted trail uses, and provides guidelines on monitoring and enforcement mechanisms.

  1. 1. PHTCTA is a not for profit organization; its organizational structure provides for multiple stakeholder representation including but not limited to adjacent landowners, user groups, institutional and municipal representatives.
  2. 2. Regular communication with the public will be maintained through use of PHTCTA website.
  3. 3. Insurance coverage will be maintained by the PHTCTA as it relates to the responsibilities of the Organization and obligations for the trail.
  4. 4. The PHTCTA will make every attempt to accommodate individuals and groups with special needs that may not be traditional users of a trail, including the elderly, persons with disabilities, school educational programs and other persons with special needs.
  5. 5. Signs will be posted, and appropriate gateways/barriers installed at entrances to the trail and road crossings, that clearly indicate the uses permitted, rules for the use, and contact information for the PHTCTA.
  6. 6. The PHTCTA will conduct regular patrols to inspect the trail for damage, environmental problems and other physical characteristics that require maintenance or repair.
  7. 7. The PHTCTA will work in consultation with the police department having jurisdiction in the area to devise a patrol and enforcement strategy.
  8. 8. When preparing management or operational plans the PHTCTA may contact all affected adjacent landowners to consider development proposals and trail use.
  9. 9. Where a landowner owns, or a farmer requires access to lands on both sides of the trail, the PHTCTA recognizes existing crossings that were in existence when the CN railway was operational.  The Landowner is expected to consult with the PHTCTA regarding any change to the location, or design of any such crossing.
  10. 10. Permitted Trail uses include: hiking/walking, cycling, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing and snowmobiling.
  11. 11. Other than those exemptions listed in items 12-13 (below) no motorized vehicle shall use the trail, except as authorized for trail maintenance, patrol, and emergency purposes.
  12. 12. Right angle crossing of the trail by adjacent landowner and farmers for access to their lands, moving of equipment, and maintenance is permitted.
  13. 13. Snowmobiling may be permitted, subject to the detailed conditions listed below: 
  14. a. Winter snowmobiling activities will share the trail with non-motorized uses.
  15. b. Snowmobiles using the Trail must have a valid Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) permit.
  16. c. Improvements for snowmobiling will be compatible with other non-motorized uses.
  17. d. Existing use by the local snowmobiling club be continued.
  18. 14. ATV’s and motorcycles are not permitted.

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