Sunday, 16 September 2012

The Lime Kiln Technical Trail Will Never Be The Same

Today we finally had the opportunity to hike the Lime Kiln Technical Trail for the first time since the Lime Kiln area fire in the Stony Swamp Conservation Area.

(click on map to enlarge)

Things are looking pretty good for the first part of the trail, although you start to see larger and larger signs of fire as you look alongside the trail and then you are in the middle of the Fire Zone. At that point on the map you can see the hike diverging somewhat from the trail as we tried to follow the trail on the GPS and keep watch for the silver Rideau Trail triangles (silver because in most cases the blue paint was removed due to the heat of the fire). Most of the trail within the Fire Zone was unrecognizable although there were a few recognizable trail features along the route we followed.

The fire zone ended shortly before one of the fire roads crossed the trail. At that point the trail continues on the other side of the fire road but due to all the debris pushed up alongside the road we were unable to follow the trail. Knowing it reconnected further along the Fire Road we continued following the road, intending to follow it back from the other end, but when we reached that location we again had the problem of the piled up debris hiding the entrance into the trail, so we ended up missing about 200 metres of trail. After that the Fire Road wiped out most of the trail except for a short portion that ran just alongside it just before the Lime Kiln Bridge.

My guess would be, taking into account the first section of trail, and the section we by-passed, plus the short section of trail at the end, that close to 50% of the trail might be intact in it's original condition. The other 50% will probably need extensive rehabilitation and some of the technical features might never be recovered.

My inclination, however, would be that it would be best to let the natural environment and vegetation recover on it's own before attempting to rebuild the trail. We did notice that there already appeared to be some new growth within the fire zone and on the fire roads. At the appropriate time I would hope that the National Capital Commission (NCC) would consult with all trail users, including mountain bikers, in developing a trail rehabilitation plan.


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