Travis, Chairman Volunteer Maintaining The Alexander Murray Hiking Trail
An in-depth look at the Alexander Murray Hiking trail and a quick chat with the chairman of the group of volunteers that maintaining it.
We’re sitting at the bar in a small town on the North Coast of Newfoundland that we strategically chose to sleep in due to its proximity to a hiking trail that came highly recommended to us, the Alexander Murray Hiking Trail. In typical Newfoundland fashion we quickly found ourselves chatting with everyone along the bar and after only a few minutes of banter I explain that we’re on a cross-Canada trip exploring people who care about our environment, but tomorrow we’re starting our day with the nearby hike. Quickly, a kind lady at the end of the bar pipes up “Well, you’re in luck because my husband is the chairman of volunteers that maintain that trail!”, and just like that, we’re introduced to Tammy and her husband Travis. We quickly exchanged numbers and planned to meet after we completed the hike to talk about their initiative with the trail.
The trail has been termed as “One of Newfoundlands best kept secrets”, and after experiencing the trail it’s not hard to understand why. Through my own experience, the discussions with other travellers and locals, and the perfect 5-star rating online, the trail could easily be described as a ‘must-do’ when visiting Newfoundland. Taking around 3 hours it climbs up and down 2200 steps, past four waterfalls, up and down a mountain, into a canyon, and through two or three different types of forests. Although these notable sights are staggering in themselves, one of the greatest pleasures of the hike is how well maintained and built the trail is.
Although Travis, through his extremely kind hearted and humble ways, would never take too much credit for all of the progress it’s clear, not just through being elected as chairman of the trails volunteer maintenance committee, that his role has made a big difference in the upkeep of the trail. His excitement and passion is contagious as he explains how he got to the position; “I was born and raised here, and from the top of the hike you can get a 360 degree view of the land that generations of my family worked on!”
Travis comes from generations of men in his family that have all worked in the forestry industry, and his work and passion that comes from being surrounded by the outdoors, and specifically trees and various ecosystems, has ingrained the importance of maintaining such a highly valued trail. Through conversation Travis specifically mentions the importance of keeping the trail as natural as possible. Recently, through his working education, he has put an effort into protecting a specific section of the trail that he discovered of potentially one of the last patches of old growth, natural forests in Newfoundland; something he learned the value of through his work experience.
Although the protection of the natural landscapes surrounding the trail is important, Travis is also quick to recognize the value of the trail to the local community; “The trail is like a walking history of the community! There’s 200 years of history up there and the names along the trail are all local historical figures.”. And, aside from the historical importance, the trial acts as a hub for the community through its ground level community center; “There’s not much going on in Kings Point so we want to bring people together through weekly group climbs, a community garden, and community camp fires… we want to make it a hub for the community.” While definitely a great asset towards bringing the community together the trail also helps with bringing tourists in for business, “The guest book had 10,000 signatures last year! Who knows how many people actually made it to the top but that’s at least a portion of how many people attempted!” he explained laughing.
The trail is graded as a ‘moderate’ difficulty, although only 3-4 hours can easily take the breath out of someone in shape and familiar with hiking. Saying this, it’s important to recognize the work it takes behind maintaining such a trail, “We’ve got a really great group of volunteers, we really try to tap into the people that truly love it.” and this love for the project would be essential as Travis explains “we have to hike up with all of our supplies; chainsaws, 2x4’s, bags of sand, whatever it takes… without our true love for the trail it simply wouldn't be sustained.”
For more information on the trail and Travis’s group of volunteers please visit and support https://www.facebook.com/AlexanderMurrayHikingTrail/
And, remember, help Travis and other volunteers like him and pack out! Leave the trails better than you arrived.