Two white-tailed deer bound across a field next to the Headingley Grand Trunk Trail on a warm fall evening.
Deer, coyotes, muskrats and various types of birds are visible to hikers and cyclists as they travel on the 10-kilometre trail that runs along the former CN Rail right-of-way at the southern portion of the RM of Headingley into the RM of Cartier. The eastern portion of the trail starts at the Perimeter Highway, where it connects with the Harte Trail in Charleswood, and it ends in Beaudry Provincial Park.
Les McCann , vice-chair of the Headingley Grand Trunk Trail Association, said the mini-ecosystems located along the trail vary from location to location.
"The landscape changes from the dominantly open prairie spaces to aspen parkland at Hull Road, with a small wetland just after Hull Road to an oak savanna between Tallieu Road and Breezy Bend to a marsh area between Alboro and Wescana, then pretty open prairie for the two kilometres as you approach the Beaudry Park section of the trail," he said.
"For me, being a person that enjoys the natural features of the trail, it is always changing. The trail is a newer trail, only having been worked on since 2005. Every year the influence of how the municipality maintenance workers, the local land owners and the trail users, treat the trail, cause changes to the natural features of the trail."
Association treasurer Ray Hutton said he’s pleased the RMs of Headingley and MacDonald have supported the trail by gravelling and maintaining their sections of it.
"It’s a key part of our community," said councillor John Mauseth, adding that it reflects the municipality’s recreation plan that highlights walking, hiking and cycling.
Headingley reeve Wilf Taillieu said the RM councillors have requested that developers who build new homes in areas close to the trail include pathways that connect to the trail, as was the case in the Deer Pointe development.
"Every time they put a development in, we’re advocating for trails," Hutton agreed.
Association members have secured funding from the Winnipeg Foundation, Manitoba Community Services Council and Manitoba Conservation to construct a new interpretive kiosk, a bridge across a creek in Beaudry Park and bluebird boxes next to the trail.
"We want it to be a four-season trail," said Hutton, adding that most of it stays free from snow drifts and can be used for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. A local resident sometimes runs his dogsled team along the trail.
There are also some geocaches situated along the trail to be discovered by those who enjoy this activity.