Friday, December 6, 2013

Leg 8: Neil's Pond to Park Avenue

December 1, 2013

We had a brisk but sunny Sunday morning to finish off Paradise and walk through Mount Pearl. The trail runs parallel to Topsail Road the entire way. The Paradise trails around Octagon and Neil's Ponds were being put to good use by dog walkers, joggers, cyclists . . . and ducks looking for a handout.

The honeymoon with Paradise ended abruptly with a sign and tape blocking the way between a strip mall facing Topsail Road and a large building, to the right of the picture, under construction on Karwood Drive. The trail was squeezed into a narrow, irregular cowpath (small cattle only), a real mess.

Compare the condition of the trail today (above) with what it looked like in August 2009 when Google maps recorded this street view.

The trail soon returned to its usual form, finding a way between the busy four-lane highway that Topsail Road has become and some quiet residential streets. Alongside Selby Street the trail widens and, wouldn't you know it, someone chose the trail rather than the street as their truck route.

Neville's Pond was new to us -- nice relief in the middle of galloping subdivisions.

What happens next is gruesome.  Here's the trail, all bleak and forlorn, right at the highway's edge. We continued along past St. Anne's Industrial Path and under the Outer Ring Road to the end of Paradise.  On a patch with lumber yards both left and right, a tarp that once wrapped wood now straddles the trail. 

Near the Kenmount - Topsail overpass the trail diverged from the highway and there was a small wetland, possible the beginning of Waterford River.

There are additional industrial establishments just at the start of Mount Pearl before the trail gets back onto what was clearly the railbed. The trail becomes straight and wide, with a few diversions such as an abandoned bridge and rest areas where you can sit and admire the Waterford River. The marshes displayed fall shades of amber and dull gold.The T'Railway is connected to an extensive network of developed paths that weave through Mount Pearl.

The trail is so well shielded that Commonwealth Avenue took us by surprise. There is no crosswalk to get across the four lanes. We were lured onto the street by an accommodating driver but the next vehicle took us to be fair game.  Trail rules are posted here and a sign from Environment Canada.

The remainder of the Mt. Pearl section, from Commonwealth to Park Avenue, was in great shape. We met several walkers, found a few amenities such as benches and trash cans, and noticed the trail was essentially litter-free.  One remnant of the railway was a warehouse with loading doors accessible only from the trail side.

The trail here is in a more open setting, with Topsail Road visible on the north side.  

Today we enjoyed the luxury of valet service, with my sister Barb fetching us and returning us to our car back in Paradise.


Distance:  7.4 km 

Time:  1 hour 40 minutes

Litter:  Remarkably clean most of the way.  Just a few coffee cups, a problem near the lumber yards.

Trail condition:  Surface conditions generally excellent BUT trail is obliterated as it passes the industrial park in Paradise.  

Scenic Rating:  **  due to ~2 km of lost trail.

Fellow users:  At least 25 walkers, runners and cyclists.  More that all previous days combined. 

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