A P.E.I. golf course looking for ways to extend the season has teamed up with some recreation partners to create a new winter destination on the Island's North Shore.
Woodrow Bishop, general manager at Glasgow Hills Golf Course, came up with the idea of putting multi-use trails on a piece of property the course wasn't using.
"When I came here in 2019, I realized that the season was very short. It was a June 1st to end of October operation," Bishop said.
"So I tried to come up with some ideas. What can we do here to maybe get to seven months, then nine months, with the goal of eventually maybe becoming year round?"
Cycling PEI and Tourism Cavendish Beach are helping keep the trails groomed over the winter. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)
Bishop was inspired in part by his previous job on the west coast.
"I spent 12 years in Whistler, B.C., where mountain biking, outdoor recreation is a big part of of your everyday life," Bishop said. "I wanted to bring a little bit of that to the East Coast."
10 kilometres of trails
Glasgow Hills opened phase two of the trails in the fall of 2023, and now has more than 10 kilometres of trails that can be used for hiking, dog walking, mountain biking and, in the winter, snowshoeing and fat biking.
Bishop said Cycling P.E.I. and Tourism Cavendish Beach are helping keep the trails groomed over the winter.
The golf course has also received funding to buy fat bikes that people can rent.
Watershed groups on P.E.I. will gather at Glasgow Hills for their annual woodlot tour on Jan. 27. It will be the first time the event has been held there. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)
Bishop said the feedback so far has been very positive, including from some mountain bikers who tried out the trails in the fall.
"We've got a trail that's getting lots of hype online called Razzle Dazzle," Bishop said. "A lot of mountain bikers are saying, 'We would have to go off-Island to get some of this terrain and trails.'
"So feedback so far has been exceptional."
A lot of mountain bikers are saying, 'We would have to go off-Island to get some of this terrain and trails.'
— Woodrow Bishop, Glasgow Hills Golf Course
The Central Region Sport and Recreation Council has been a key partner in the trails project.
It received $130,000 in funding from P.E.I.'s Active Transportation Fund toward the Glasgow Hills Trail project.
"We provided funding to get this up and going," said executive director Jessica Corbett.
"The Central Region [council] does a lot of the promoting, and I do weekly hikes here as well, within my organization. So [it's] just getting a lot of people out to introduce them to the trail, and to get things up and running."
Jessica Corbett of the Central Region Sport and Recreation Council stands next to the trail map at Glasgow Hills. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)
Corbett said it's particularly important to be able to offer recreational opportunities locally during the winter.
"In the winter, it is amazing, considering we're not allowed on the Confederation Trail," she said. That system is leased to the P.E.I. Snowmobile Association from Dec. 1 to March 31 each winter.
Corbett said the new network at Glasgow Hills "provides opportunities for Islanders to get out and use trails that are not utilized by ATVs and snowmobiles."
"You can use it all year round. It's centrally located, so it's relatively close to everyone."
Harriet Dreise is watershed co-ordinator of the Hunter-Clyde Watershed Group. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)
Winter woodlot tour
The new trails will also be featured at an upcoming winter event. Watershed groups in the area will be hosting their annual woodlot tour at Glasgow Hills on Jan. 27.
"After Fiona, it's been hard to find really accessible trails, and this is a great spot that not many people know about yet," said Harriet Dreise, watershed co-ordinator with the Hunter-Clyde Watershed Group.
"They have a great venue for us, lots of parking, which has been an issue in previous years. And there's woods back there, and it's great for them to get people out on the trails."
More than 10 kilometres of trails can now be used in the winter for snowshoeing and fat biking, as well as for hiking, dog walking and mountain biking in other seasons. (Shane Hennessey/CBC)
Bishop said the goal is to keep adding to what the golf course offers.
"We have a vision of becoming a 12-month operation with the trails and winter weddings, corporate business," Bishop said.
"But ultimately we just want to get people out — I don't want to say off their couches, but outside and utilizing our trails for outdoor recreation. It just benefits everybody."