On the Trails
by Gordon Parsons
Back in time to about 1980, walking was just coming into it’s own in Labrador West and there was leadership on Wabush Council and in town staff at Labrador City. Project money was pleantiful and summer workers were readily available.
Council in Wabush took a role in the construction of a 5 km. Trail around Jean Lake and although support dropped off in the past ten years it is still the main walking/hiking trail in the town. For a number of years it was the site of the Annual Jean Lake Trek but lack of support and upgrading played a part in the end of this event.
This trail is still a great way to spend an hour. It has a couple of rest spots, a few areas where one can overlook the lake. As well there is a rougher trail that loops off to the top of the hill, where the flag is. This was cut and maintained by an outdoors person who has left the area, pity.
Another nice walk is the road to the former Wabush Municipal Day Park at Elephant Head Lake. This is about 11km return from the pavement but can be shortened depending on where you park. Closer to the lake there are a number of 4 x 4 trails that you can wander if you want a more remote stroll.
Winter walking spots include the undeveloped housing areas, the Industrial Park and the road to the pump house as well as town streets. Sidewalks however are not plowed.
While it would seem a natural to have a paved 8 km walkway between Wabush and Labrador City, indeed a start was actually made once. There has never been the spirit of willingness to cooperate or to front up money for construction. Locals envy Goose Bay’s Happy Valley’s paved connecting walkway.
Labrador City has a fair number of trails started with municipal support to some degree. The better one is the privately developed 5 km one at Menihek Cross Country Ski Lodge, it is a moderate walk, good signage, picturesque and meanders in a loop through the Virgin Birch and Spruce Forest of the scenic Wapusakatto Mountains.
As well for the more adventuresses with good waterproof hiking boots the full trail system may be hiked, I recommend the Birches. There are loops from 3 to 15 km and lots may be connected to make a full day hike.
In the winter there is the lighted ‘401’, which is open to snowshoers as well as skiers. The road to the Ski Lodges is also a popular walk with a lot of townsfolk, just over 6 km it can be shortened to 5 if you park at the top of the hill.
A high numbers of walkers use the town streets, a loop around the perimeter is about 7 km, unfortunately very few sidewalks are plowed in winter. This makes Highway 500 towards the Golf Course a more popular route with a lot of walkers.
Tanya Lake was one of the first walking trails slated for development and while there has been some sporadic work of sorts done it is still not near it’s potential as a showcase trail in the Municipal Park. The trail is short, basic about 2 km but if you add on a few possible loops or double it can be lengthened to make up about 5 km.
There used to be a trail from town to Harrie Lake sub-Division but lack of maintenance has closed it down, the roadway is still used frequently as is Circular Road to lengthen a perimeter walk around town.
Cemetery Road, Old Airport Road, Duley Lake Road and the SM&E Road are all places used to get off the more traveled areas. For the cardio hiker the return trek up Round Hill, 3 km or Wabush Mountain, 7 km are a must a time or two a week
Crystal Falls is a very short walk from Highway 500 but from the mall you can make it a bit over 8 km and it is pretty when you get there. The old Duley Lake Road starting from White Wolf Snowmobile Club can lead to Crystal Falls but you have to cross a couple of rivers with long gone bridges which should be replaced with culverts. This is used a lot in winter as an unofficial snowmobile trail so is packed hard enough to walk or snowshoe.
All in all there are a fair number of places to walk or hike, most may need work or upgrading but with more and more people walking maybe the powers that be will eventually see that trails can be a municipal asset.
A long time resident of Labrador West, Gordon Parsons is a regular contributor to the Gateway Labrador website. With his knowledge of the local area and local attractions, Mr. Parsons has been able, through his written contributions, to guide us through all that Labrador West has to offer.