bridge on the cataraqui trail

The hard-working folks with the Cataraqui Conservation Operations team, along with the Friends of the Cataraqui Trail, municipal partners and dedicated volunteers spent a lot of time in 2021 working on various assignments to improve the quality, safety and sustainability of the popular Cataraqui Trail.

For those who are unaware, Cataraqui Conservation owns and manages the entirety of the Cataraqui Trail, a 104-kilometre long non-motorized (excluding maintenance vehicles and snowmobiles in winter with a valid OFSC permit) multi-use trail that extends from Strathcona in the west to Smith Falls in the east, and crosses through four municipalities: The Townships of Stone Mills, South Frontenac, Rideau Lakes and the City of Smith Falls.

Previous to taking over hands-on management of the trail in 2019, it was managed by the volunteer Cataraqui Trail Management Board. This valued organization has now transitioned into the Friends of the Cataraqui Trail with main management by Cataraqui Conservation.

friends of the cataaqui trail work day

Much of the work was focused on regular maintenance of the trail to ensure continued usability and safety for the tens of thousands of area residents and visitors to the Cataraqui Region. This includes mowing and managing the vegetation growing on both sides of the trail itself. As well, there is always need for repairs to potholes or other surface imperfections as part of this normal maintenance regime, or even downed trees, branches or minor damage to the trail surface from heavy rainfall. 

Besides the regular maintenance there were three larger projects undertaken in 2021. 

As part of Cataraqui Conservation’s ongoing Signage Strategy, the Operations team began erecting new signs along the Cataraqui Trail thanks to funding from a private donor and grant funding. New kiosks, identification and directional signs were installed, and met all AODA (Accessibilities Ontario Disabilities Act) standards. Specific signs included ‘No Parking,’ ‘No Unauthorized Vehicles,’ ‘Falling Hazards’ and others accompany the new gate set ups that are currently being installed along the Cataraqui Trail and various road intersections.

new cataraqui trail ID sign

Throughout the fall, contracted work crews were out resurfacing the portion of the trail from Country Road 5 heading West towards Highway 15 and East towards Golf Club Road. These enhancements ensured the continued sturdiness and usability of the trail for many years to come, for walkers, runners, cyclists, horseback riders and, in the winter, snowmobilers.

Creation of a new parking lots at Highway 15 and County Road 5 provides an additional access point to the trail while the parking areas at Indian Lake Road, as well as the one at Highway 15 were also upgraded to allow for easier access to these parts of the trail for users. 

Towards the end of 2021, a large-scale upgrade of the bridge at Chaffey’s Lock took place, with the construction work running from Nov. 22 until Dec. 3.

cataraqui conservation staff re-decking the Chaffey's Lock bridge

The bridge was ‘re-decked’ in order to provide a more consistent and safer surface for trail users. Old decking was removed by staff and replaced with brand new decking. This meant the Cataraqui Trail was inaccessible from Indian Lake Road to Marina Road for that short period of time, with a well-signed detour tour provided for trail users.

It was thanks to funding, in-kind and practical support from a variety of partners, that so much important work was undertaken throughout the calendar year. The partners include Rideau Lakes Township, Stone Mills Township, Infrastructure Canada, Friends of the Cataraqui Trail, and the Crabtree Foundation. Other funds came from designated 2021 capital reserves from the Cataraqui Conservation budget.

According to the report that went to the February Full Authority Board meeting, ‘2021 was a successful year on the Cataraqui Trail. Cataraqui Conservation staff, the Friends of the Cataraqui Trail, local clubs, member municipalities, private donors and local contractors worked together to complete regular maintenance and capital improvements on the trail. The works improved safety and enhanced the user experience on the Cataraqui Trail.”

If you would like to support the Cataraqui Trail by becoming a member of the Friends group, volunteering your time or donating please visit