Xget’tem’ Trail is on pace to become one of the city’s busiest paths.
In the first three months of 2018, the 1.5-kilometre paved multi-use trail, which opened in November, saw nearly 19,000 visits.
Staff are projecting 100,000 to 120,000 annual visitors by the end of the year, when factoring in warmer weather.
“That trail now is one of the most widely used pathways in the city,” City of Kamloops parks and civic facilities manager Jeff Putnam told KTW.
“It’s been a huge success.”
The city tracks usage of 14 trails throughout Kamloops with Eco-Counter devices that utilize infrared technology to count people.
The devices blend into the natural environment and are placed in hidden locations near the top or bottom of trail heads. The devices provide data to the city that is used to better understand the maintenance needs of city parks.
However, Xget’tem’ Trail’s Eco-Counter system is unique in that it differentiates between pedestrians and cyclists. Putnam said those stats will help the city with future urban planning.
“It’s such a unique project and we wanted a more robust one,” Putnam said.
“Just to see how many people are on bikes versus pedestrians. We’re able to accurately determine that.”
During the first three months of this year, most Xget’tem’ visitors were pedestrians (nearly 16,000) and the other 3,000 were cyclists. The busiest day in the first three months saw 459 trail users on Monday, March 18.
A Bike BC grant of $1 million was used toward the $3.7-million cost of the path. Future phases will further connect Bestwick Drive and McGill Road and further up Summit Drive.
Xget’tem’ means “deep valley” in Secwepemc and pays tribute to the area’s historical ties to the Shuswap people.
Last year, the city’s busiest trail was in Kenna Cartwright Park, with 124,000 annual visitors counted through the main entrance.
Peterson Creek visitors accessed the park via downtown 97,000 times, while the Whiteshield Crescent entrance to the park in Sahali welcomed 60,000 visitors.
Add in the anticipated 100,000 to 120,000 visitors using Xget’tem’ and Putnam is reminding trail users to be respectful of the environment by staying on designated and maintained trails.
Though trailblazing may sound adventurous, it in fact destroys sensitive ecosystems, including native plants, trees and wildlife habitat.
“Any time you go off the trail and disturb that area, it takes years and years and years to recover,” Putnam said.
Meanwhile, the city’s least-used trail leads to the Dallas-Barnhartvale Nature Park off Dallas Drive, which registered 12,000 annual visitors last year.