Popular New Brunswick hiking trail closed indefinitely after aerial rescue resulted in fallen trees

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A hiking trail along New Brunswick’s Fundy Coast is closed indefinitely after a helicopter that was deployed to rescue a hiker on Sunday downed several trees, damaging a section of the trail.

Sussex Fire Chief Bill Wanamaker said his department received a call around 5 p.m. indicating that a hiker had broken her ankle while on the Walton Glen Gorge Trail, located about halfway between St. Martins, NB and Alma, NB.

When the teams arrived, they found the 20-year-old hiker on a steep part of the trail, unable to walk, Wanamaker said.

“It was determined pretty quickly that the hiker was unable to climb. Due to the terrain, it was almost impossible to like them, to wear them,” he said.

Wanamaker said crews decided to request an air rescue from the Joint Rescue Coordination Center, and later that evening a Cormorant helicopter lifted the hiker off the trail and dropped him off in the trail parking lot, where she was seen by paramedics.

A Cormorant helicopter was dispatched to airlift a hiker off the Walton Glen Gorge Trail. Downdraft from the helicopter’s rotors damaged several trees, forcing the trail to be closed. (Canadian Armed Forces)

While the rescue was successful, the downward draft created by the helicopter’s rotors uprooted and toppled several trees along the trail, said James Donald, chairman of the board of directors of the Fundy Trail Development Authority.

“We don’t have a schedule yet [for reopening the trail]said Donald.

“I mean, it’s about resources towards the end of the season and getting the resources to assess and fix it. So hopefully we can reopen it before the end of the season,” he said. Donald said, adding that the trail officially closes after Thanksgiving weekend.

This was not the first time this summer that a hiker had to be rescued from the Walton Glen Gorge Trail.

Just two weeks earlier, a man had to be evacuated from the trail after breaking his leg in the same section, Wanamaker said.

“I think it’s just steep,” Wanamaker said of the trail. “And you know, if it’s wet it could be, you know, slippery that way and then you’re on rocks that are slippery as well.”

Wanamaker said his fire department had also received calls twice this summer from hikers who got lost hiking in the area and needed help finding their way.

Until last summer, the Walton Glen Gorge Trail was generally only used by experienced hikers who knew how to navigate the region’s backcountry roads to find it, Donald said.

But last July, the province extended the Fundy Trail Parkway to pass near the trailhead and also built an observation deck overlooking the Walton Glen Gorge.

James Donald, chairman of the board of directors of the Fundy Trail Development Authority, said the popularity of the Walton Glen Gorge Trail has increased since the Fundy Trail Parkway extension in 2020. (Shane Fowler / CBC)

Since then, the trail has seen a big increase in the number of hikers, Donald said.

“I think people underestimate how hard it is until they fall in and then have to come back up,” Donald said.

Donald said anyone planning to hike the trail when it reopens should do some research before setting out and wear appropriate footwear.

“I wouldn’t be a newbie hiker and would go this trail because if you are not used to hiking there are other trails there are lots of other trails in the park that would be better suited for that, to get an idea. “


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