Volunteers with Beaten Path Nordic Trails in Atikokan have been busy for months clearing brush from nearly 40 kilometres of trails.
The club is touted to be the largest, by distance, volunteer-led cross-country ski club in northwestern Ontario.
Club president Peter Burton said Beaten Path may be one of the only clubs with no employees at all — and simply clearing trails takes hundreds of volunteer hours.
“Many people have been out here countless hours already. I think we're going out probably 30, 40 hours ourselves,” he said.
“And there are other people who maybe have done even more."
The club operates using membership revenue and “occasionally grants that we are successful in applying for,” Burton continued.
"We're fortunate ... people are always jumping in to help out on different things. We have an adopt-the-trail program. We have about 40 kilometres of groomed trail. People in the community adopt a certain section and come out every fall and get it ready for the ski season."
Many ski clubs across northwestern Ontario rely on grooming equipment to help smooth out their trails, but Beaten Path trails are groomed without grooming machines. Burton said trail brushing usually starts in August.
'It's pretty cool'
Burton is proud of the work they do.
"For a small community — [and] I've travelled around to ski resorts all across Canada — I don't think I've come across one that is any better,’ he said.
"We were voted as being one of the coolest adventures in Canada by Explore magazine a few years ago, so we are pretty proud of that. It's pretty cool."
The magazine focused on Beaten Path’s Cross Quetico ski tour, which runs on March 21, 2015.
Burton’s partner Cathy Burton said their work is ongoing.
"We're trying to get [the trails] wider a little bit every year, and there's always tag alders that fill in every year, so you need to actually go along and clip those,” she said.
“Sometimes there's big rocks you're trying to remove because the snow machines ... bang into them, and they cause us problems with the grooming equipment. So we're trying to smooth out trails and maybe make the corners not quite so sharp as what they are."
Peter and Cathy Burton are with Beaten Path Nordic Trails in Atikokan.