Trans Canada Trail: The National Trail System
The Trans Canada Trail (T.C.T.), also known simply as “The Great Trail”, was born in 1992 out of the Canada 125 celebrations, and is expected to be fully completed in time for Canada 150 celebrations in 2017. The T.C.T. is made up of hundreds of individual trails linked together to form almost 24,000 kilometres of continuous multi-use trail connecting Canada from coast to coast to coast. The trail now passes through every province and territory, and is recognized as the longest recreational trail in the world. It is estimated that four out of five Canadians live within 30 minutes of the trail.
As of mid 2016 about 85% of the trail has been completed nation wide. The Yukon was the third territory/province to achieve full Trans Canada Trail connection, celebrating the milestone in early 2016. In June 2016 the Globe and Mail printed a special feature showing the progress of the trail and showcasing the newly launched image, “The Great Trail”. It is available online at http://globeandmail2016.thegreattrail.ca/
There is a National Trans Canada Trail Organization based in Montreal and they promote, assist and oversee development of the Trail. The national organization is led by a board of directors, a senior management team and several standing committees with members all over Canada. The Yukon has recently joined this list with a member on the Trans Canada Trail Youth Committee. The Trans Canada Trail has also selected suitable provincial and territorial organizations to act on their behalf as official agents in each province and territory, and a letter of agreement was signed out lining responsibilities of each party. For the Yukon Territory, the Klondike Snowmobile Association proudly serves this role.
There are national guidelines and standards to be followed, and some limited funding is available for construction and maintenance of the trail. The Trans Canada Trail is very much a community volunteer based project, and the territorial and provincial agents are responsible for leading the designation, building and maintenance of the T.C.T. in their area. Local groups wishing to apply for recognition, assistance and/or funding must apply through the provincial/territorial agent. It is also up to the agent to ensure the standards of the T.C.T. are met in their area.
Although snowmobiling is one of the “Big Six” core groups in the T.C.T., the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations (C.C.S.O.) realized that the proposed route of the T.C.T. would not make a Trans Canada Snowmobile Trail (T.C.S.T.) due to its then proposed southern track across Canada.
Therefore, in 1993 the C.C.S.O. decided to link existing provincial and territorial snowmobile trails into a true cross Canada network. By 1997 this was accomplished from the Alberta border east to Newfoundland. Alberta & British Columbia were linked in 1998 and soon after the Yukon and N.W.T. were also fully linked in.
In the mean time, the Klondike Snowmobile Association, with the permission of the Yukon Territorial Government, scooped the rest of Canada in March of 1996 by having the president of the C.C.S.O. come to the Yukon and open the first official section of T.C.S.T. in Canada, The Top of the World Highway, closed in winter and used by some 500 snowmobilers during the Trek Over the Top. It generated an impressive amount of media exposure for the Yukon.
To open the completed T.C.S.T., the C.C.S.O. rode coast to coast in January/February of 1998 in RendezVous 1998.
As in numerous jurisdictions across Canada, combining the two national trail systems in Yukon makes economic and environmental sense. Most snowmobile trails can easily be shared with skiers and dog teams during winter, and make great hike & bike trails come summer. Based on this, the K.S.A. sought and obtained official agent status with the Trans Canada Trail Foundation. Since then Klondike Snowmobile Association volunteers have been working hard year-round to build, designate, connect and maintain the Trans Canada Trail in the Yukon. Now that the Yukon portion of the Trans Canada Trail is fully connected, the Klondike Snowmobile Association is looking forward to a long future of continuing to work with the Trans Canada Trail as we maintain and improve the trail.
With Yukon’s abundance of historical trails, the potential for expanded tourism is real. The K.S.A. strongly believes in the Multi Use Trail concept. Snowmobilers, mushers, skiiers, ATVers, hikers, bikers, horseback riders, walkers, runners, and everyone in between are all considered a welcome sight on our trails.