The eight-kilometre Metlakatla Wilderness Trail is being celebrated as open to hikers on June 6 after being closed to the public for more than five years.
“The Metlakatla Wilderness Trail highlights the beauty of the Coast Tsimshian Territory and offers an opportunity for all people to respectfully experience some of the natural areas that have sustained the Metlakatla First Nation for millennia. It is our hope that this trail will become a showcase piece for those spending time in the territory,” Harold Leighton, chief of Metlakatla said during an official opening ceremony on May 25.
The walking trail, which fringes the northern shores of the community, has undergone extensive engineering work to secure the safety of the suspension bridges as well as work completed to clear out storm debris that damaged a section of the pathway.
The trail boasts a 360-degree viewing tower over the forested canopy, as well as picnic sites along the coast and numerous access ways to the beach.
A twice-weekly ferry charter, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, will be provided by the Metlakatla Governing Council at no cost for visitors to access the trail. The charter will be limited to the first 20 hikers each day. Hikers will be required to sign in once arriving, to ensure the safety of those on the trail can be tracked.
The vessel will depart from the Metlakatla Ferry Dock located below the Crest Hotel at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and will return from the community at 5:30. On Saturdays, it will depart at the same time, but return an hour earlier at 4:30 p.m.
Originally built in 2012, the trail was closed in 2016 after a severe windstorm in April 2015 caused damage and safety concerns and has remained closed since. In August 2019, the Metlakatla First Nation received more than $79,000 from Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) to rehabilitate the trail. When COVID-19 spread, the trail remained closed.
Prince Rupert Port Authority’s (PRPA)Community Investment fund contributed more than $172,00o to aid the trail reconstruction in unison with Metlakatla Development Corporation and NDIT.
“The Metlakatla Wilderness Trail is a world-class hiking experience that provides benefits well beyond outdoor adventure and breathtaking scenery by connecting users and visitors to the rich culture and values of Metlakatla First Nation,” Shaun Stevenson, PRPA president and CEO, said. “We are proud to collaborate together to restore this extraordinary recreational asset to enable greater recreational, cultural, and economic opportunities for Indigenous-led tourism and showcase one of the most beautiful places on the north coast.”
“Please note that anyone hiking the trail is asked to bring water, food and any necessary supplies, as there is no opportunity to purchase food, drinks or supplies once in the community of Metlakatla. As well, given the rich cultural history of the area, hikers are asked to be respectful of the trail and beaches and not remove any materials,” a media statement reads.
K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist
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art by the Prince Rupert Port Authority’s Community Investment Fund with a $172,032 contribution, the Metlakatla Development Corporation (MDC) and Northern Development InitiativeTrust, all of whom recognize the outstanding recreation opportunity the Metlakatla Wilderness Trail provides.
Please note that anyone hiking the trail is asked to bring water, food and any necessary supplies as there is no opportunity to purchase food, drinks or supplies once in the community of Metlakatla. As well, given the rich cultural history of the area, hikers are asked to be respectful of the trail and beaches and not remove any materials.While the ceremony was held, we ask that hikers refrain from accessing the trail until June 6.