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Hikers of Maitland Trail Association

Our History & VIPs

Since its establishment in 1975, the Maitland Trail Association has been a shining example of what can be accomplished when dedicated volunteers unite in a common vision. Over the years, we have expanded and we now maintain over 80 kilometers of trail in and around Goderich, Ontario. We are proud to host community events and offer group outings that encourage exploration, learning, and appreciation for the natural world. Come discover the rich history of the Maitland Trail Association and become a part of our community of nature enthusiasts.

The Maitland Trail Association was formed on July 2, 1975, with a proposal to build a trail that would follow the path of the Maitland River. Originally, the vision included a trail that would start at the mouth of the Maitland River in Goderich and continue to Wingham. However, that proved to be too much for a new volunteer group, and the focus changed to the creation of a 48-kilometer trail from Goderich to Auburn. Perhaps one day the original vision will be realized, and the Maitland Trail will be extended to Wingham.

Liaison and permissions with landowners were the first important steps, followed by trail creation, and then maintenance, which continues today. Dozens of dedicated volunteers have donated countless hours of skill and sweat into making the trails accessible and safe. Trail co-ordinators have been instrumental in corralling the energetic trail workers.
 

Also, an impressive list of trail rangers continue to monitor the conditions of the trail, carry out minor trail repairs and record major work for the maintenance crew to address.

In addition to the usual trail maintenance challenges like trimming, erosion control, deadfalls, and washouts, two natural disasters have challenged the MTA – the 1995 mesocyclone and the 2011 F3 tornado. Both events required huge efforts from our regular trail crews and the assistance of generous volunteers from neighbouring trail associations.

Newsletter

The Maitland Blaze has been an important tool for the MTA for communicating with its members. It is emailed to members four times a year promoting MTA events and related news items. 

Events

The MTA hosts several outings throughout the year. There are also weekly groups, such as the Tuesday Trompers, that offer a regular opportunity to hike, ski or snowshoe. The annual Candlelight Walk and the John Hindmarsh Environmental Trust Fund Compost and Plant Sale are examples of MTA community events. Our hike leaders also organize group hikes and bike rides year-round. 

End-to-End Hikes

End-to-End hikes have become popular on the Maitland Trail earning hikers their official “End-to-End” badge.  The Camino Maitland is an annual event that happens over two days. The first Camino Maitland took place in June 2013. Since 2014, the hike has been held in September and brings hundreds of hikers from all over Ontario and beyond. 

Trail Guide

The MTA detailed Trail Guide provides a great resource for hikers – the first edition celebrated the 25th anniversary of the trail and was released in July 2000.

The second edition of the Trail Guide was released in 2007 with the added clarity of GPS data. A committee carefully reviewed the trail and the first edition, and then created a new and improved trail guide. The Ontario Trillium Foundation was a key funder, and the County of Huron Planning and Development GIS staff made the maps.  The third edition was released in 2015. Our current edition of the Maitland Trail Guide is available for purchase at the MTA online store.

Beyond the Maitland Trail

MTA volunteers maintain other local trails, in addition to the main Maitland Trail. These include Maitland Woods in Goderich, the Goderich to Auburn Rail Trail (GART), the Millennium Trail in Goderich, the Sifto Loop and the Menesetung Trail. In total, we now maintain over 80 kilometers of trail!

Maitland Woods

The Maitland Woods Trail has the added challenge of trail surfacing and boardwalks. Our custom-built trailer has carried countless loads of gravel into the forest. Hand-made signs have been created for tree identification, making the Maitland Woods a unique learning arboretum. In 2023, our maintenance crew built over one hundred feet of boardwalk in the Maitland Woods!

Maintenance Headquarters

The Maitland Trail Association headquarters was formerly in the former CPR station at the Goderich harbour. These days, a converted truck trailer provides a neat and organized storage location for our trail maintenance needs.

Hike Ontario

The MTA is a member of Hike Ontario, the ‘umbrella Association’ that consists of most major trail systems in Ontario. Through this combined membership, we have been able to obtain reasonable insurance coverage for our association, obtain valuable guides and strategies for trail building, create an inclusive Risk Management Policy, and access to Certified Instructors to train and certify our volunteer Hike Leaders.

Generous Landowners

The MTA encourages hiking, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, and nature study as a form of recreation along the trails. The trails are built primarily on private land thanks to the courtesy of the landowners. Permission of the landowners is granted for the trail to be used as a footpath and we remind users that it is not for use by motorized vehicles of any type or cycling (see our Cycling page).  

Our VIPs

Over the years, many people have been instrumental in making this organization successful. Below is a list of some of those involved.  It is not exhaustive; our apologies for any who have been omitted.

Lloyd Aubin, Deb Baxter, Jim Beatty, Tineasha Brenot, Marg Bushell, Frank Cameron, Anne Capper, Patrick Capper, Mike Cicchini, Erica Clark, Barb Currie, Cole Currie, Alicia Dalton, Clarence Denomme, Len Dodkin, Patrick Donnelly, Doug Ellacott, Jacqui Empson Laporte, Cindy Fisher, Don Forbes, Harold Frost, Mark Gaully, Kent Gillin, Roger Goddard, Sandra Goddard, Joanne Hickey, Hilary Hodgins, Anthony Hodsman, Heinz Hoernig, Wendy Hoernig, Mava Holland, Daniel Holm, Sandra Howe, Ellen Humphrey Allen, Jack Imhoff, Rod Jervis, Harold Johnstone, Jean Knight, Rod LaFontaine, Erinn Lawrie, Karen Lehnen, Taylor Lowe, Kathleen Lush, Mike Malhiot, Ken Magee, Brian McCulloch, Russel McDonald, Hugh McGregor, Bethany McRae, Norm McHolm, Con Melady, Karen Melady, Mike O’Brien, Pat Osborne, Liesel Pella, Kate Procter, Dave Pugh, Mike Pullen, Susanna Reid, Beth Ross, Bill Rutledge, Ethel-Mae Seaman, Robert Semple, Brad Smith, John Stadleman, Roberta Stemp, Gerry Stirling, Allison Stoecker, Anne Storey, John Thompson, Joan VandenBroeck, Janie Van Essen, Gerry Wasylciw, Cristen Watt, Tim Wendel, Rachel White, Anthony Wilkinson, Bill Wisser, Norm Wodhams… and many more.

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