MANITOULIN—The Cup and Saucer has officially reopened to the public thanks to a new entrance off of Highway 540 created through a partnership between the Northeast Town and the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy (EBC).
“This is a great community occasion,” said Robert Barnett, executive director of the EBC, during the official opening of the entrance last Thursday. “Roy (Dr. Roy Jeffery) and the town have done an amazing job getting this entrance made and open. You saw a problem and you solved it. This has been a real community effort.”
“We started the work on the trail last fall,” explained Dr. Jeffery. “But after the old entrance was closed we started a blitz to get this trail done. We had a team of about 10 core people, but we had about 15 volunteers in total that helped clear the bush, put up the signage and build the step and ladder.”
Dr. Jeffery noted that the trail is still in preliminary stages and that the EBC plans to have a study done, followed by further development of the trail.
“It is such a well used trail—by both experienced and novice hikers—we want to make it user friend,” said Dr. Jeffery. “Our first goal, though was just to get it reopened to the public.”
“It took an entire community to make this happen,” commented Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin. “The Northeast Town, the EBC, Randy Noble and Meredith Chandler, (public works manager) Gary May and his crew, Roy Jeffery and his volunteers, Stan Ferguson (with the Manitoulin Tourism Association), the Ministry of Transportation, and our council came together and in just under two weeks to create this new entrance.”
Mayor MacNevin also recognized the efforts of Billings council which shares the road allowance of the new entrance who unanimously supported the project. As well, he thanked Casson Eadie for the numerous years that he allowed the use of his land for the old entrance and trails.
The new entrance has been temporarily allowed by the MTO, but the EBC and Northeast Town hope to get permanent approval in the near future.
“We were able to secure a temporary entrance permit and put up temporary signage to ensure that the trail is open for the season, which is great,” said Mr. Barnett. “However, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that we meet the requirements of the MTO so that the entrance stays open permanently. Our goal was to ensure that the public continued to have access to the Cup and Saucer Trails and that goal has been achieved. Now our focus can shift to the permanent solution and raising the funds to implement that solution. I am pleased to announce that the Gosling Foundation has committed to matching the first $5,000 that we can raise towards trailhead and trail signage for the project.”
The creation of the new entrance and parking lot, costing $14,529, has been initially paid for by the Northeast Town, however they hope that donations to the EBC and contributions from other Island municipalities will cover the costs.
The Northeast Town carried a motion to donate $5,000 towards the $14,529 bill.
The completion of the entrance to the Cup and Saucer Trails will require paving of the access off of Highway 540, a traffic management brief, permitting of the parking lot, permanent entrance and trail signage, permanent washroom facilities and garbage receptacles. The money required to complete this project will have to be raised through donations and corporation sponsorship. The Northeast Town noted at its council meeting that staff have applied for some funding towards these additional costs.
All donations will be processed through the EBC and charitable donation receipts will be issued upon request. A Canada Helps Account has also been established and those wishing to make online donations can do so through canadahelp.org.
The new entrance is located approximately one kilometre west of the intersection of Highway 540 and the Bidwell Road on the left hand side of Highway 540 when driving west.
The trail takes roughly 40 minutes from the parking lot to the top of the cup. There is a stair ladder (that will be made into natural steps in the future) that might be difficult for larger dogs to climb. There is a rope railing to help climbers up the steepest portion of the trail. Once at the top of the saucer, there is a loop that connects to the old trail, to the east bluff and loops back around the top of the cup. The hike takes approximately two hours, depending on your pace and hiking skills. There is also an option to access the adventure trail via the new trail system.