Many a Yellowknifer has walked the Ranney Hill trail, which runs three kilometres round-trip in a forested area on the north side of Vee Lake road. Perhaps they’ve even had the experience of getting lost following shiny plastic tape marking the trail through the woods.
Hiking Ranney Hill this summer will be a whole new experience, thanks to the addition of benches, signage and a healthy dose of the trail’s prospecting history.
Named after prospector Winslow Ranney, the trail is now widely used by many outdoor groups and prospectors with the Yellowknife City Gold Project. “Ranney was a prospector and he put the trail in to look for gold out in them thar hills, right. And they mined out there from the 30s, 40s and the 50s,” says Michael Kalnay, who is a frequent user of the trail with the Scouts. “From then until now recreational users have been traipsing around in the forest – the ski club skis in there in the winter, the scouts hike in in the summer, the snowmobilers go through the other side. There are a lot of people using it.”
Ryan Bachynski, a geologist working with Terra X on the Yellowknife City Gold project, says the trail is also a great alternative to ‘hiking through the bush and bush-crashing’ for prospectors.
Bachynski says the well-loved trail is showing some wear and tear. “It’s been more heavily used in the recent past, recreationally, and it’s getting beat up. There are roots showing, there’s mud that’s getting washed away down the trail and we’re just trying to harden it to preserve it.”
By summer, benches, boardwalks and interpretive signage will be added. The GNWT is also working on an app to display this interpretive content.
Students from St. Patrick High School and the Kimberlite Career and Technical Centre are building two steel benches for the trail. Each will bear the name of someone who helped establish Yellowknife as a mineral boom town. Sam Otto, the first prospector to spend a winter in Yellowknife, will have his bench at the top of Ranney Hill facing the Sam Otto gold zone. A bench dedicated to the geologist who discovered both Con and Pine Point mines, Neil Campbell, will be installed at the trail’s midpoint facing the Con Mine property.
A $1,450 cheque was presented Friday by the Ranney Hill Geological Interpretive Trail Working Group, to fund the bench building.
All this work amounts to a significant improvement for users, Kalnay says. “There’s a parking lot, you don’t have to leave your car in the road, you can find the trail instead of six different colours of tape to get you lost in the forest…now there’s nice painted steel trail markers and interpretive signs coming and the swampy bits will be bridged over this year.”
All the groups using the trail get along well, Kalnay and Bachynski agree, however they are coordinating with the snowmobile club and plan to put up markers to warn people of snowmobile crossings.