Hike NS Summit Award 2019: Garnet McLaughlin

Photo: Garnet McLaughlin celebrates his Summit Award with his family: wife Alexia, daughter Madeline, son Seth and daughter Avary.

May 2019

Hike Nova Scotia is pleased to present Garnet McLaughlin with the Hike NS Summit Award. This award recognizes outstanding leadership and commitment to the growth and development of hiking in Nova Scotia.

Over the past 20 years, Garnet has logged countless hours in the development of trails, inspiring people to take action throughout Nova Scotia to create more outdoor adventures in the development of trails and pathways.

Garnet would rather be designing and building trails but he understands community, the importance of volunteer organizations and the importance of developing strong foundations and organizations for the long term.

Often it is not about time but the commitment to find the time to chair, be a board member, show up and attend meetings, create strategic plans, write and submit grant applications and lobby when and where necessary for the protection and development of trails that does and will create long term hiking opportunities.

By profession Garnet is a trail builder and started building trails in Economy at Thomas’ Cove in the mid-nineties. He has a background in integrated resource management and understands the biodiversity of the forest and the value of protecting the resource.

In the mid-nineties Garnet returned to Nova Scotia to run a youth crew building wilderness trails in the newly designated Economy River Wilderness Area. His passion for trail building, design and mentoring is based on a strong work ethic and more importantly an ethic to give back to the community. He worked on Kenomee Canyon, Devils Bend, Escarpment trail and upgraded Thomas Cove trails which is over 30 km of trail.

As a trails coordinator for Musquodoboit Trailway Association he finished up this wilderness trail system including the North and south Granite Ridge trails along with Admiral Lake loop, Bayers Lake and Gibraltar.

Over his 20-year career Garnet has been involved with different trail planning projects across the Maritimes including Neil’s Harbour in Cape Breton, Dollar Lake Provincial Lake, Mica Hill in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Gros Morne National Park, Birch Cove Blue Mountain Lake, Gully Lake and Nova Scotia Nature Trust trails.

He’s done it all. He has prepared assessments, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Cape Chignecto Provincial Park while working with both his staff and staff of the park. He has hosted trail building/restoration workshops across the province with volunteer groups, schools, municipalities and provincial governments at various sites.

He was an active volunteer board member for the NS Trails Federation for almost 10 years and worked on the Great Trail (or Trans Canada Trail) in Nova Scotia.

He took part in strategic discussions on the Atlantic Canada Trails Destination process to improve the hiking experiences that would appeal to international markets.

He started his own family base company, Cobequid Consulting after the devastating effects from Hurricane Juan in 2003 to repair the damage along so many of Nova Scotia’s trails.

He leant his expertise to the design and construction of the Crowbar Lake Trails (Waverly-Salmon River Long Lake Wilderness Area), living in the woods at the time and canoeing to the job site every day.

He worked with the community to create the Kenomee Trail Society serving as volunteer president and has been involved in many capacities with the society since 2001 when he was also balancing his volunteer role as fire chief of the Economy Fire Brigade. He is back as Chair again in 2019 volunteering for Kenomee.

In 2007 Garnet was involved in the creation of Cobequid Eco-Trails Society (CE-TS), focusing on the development and promotion of non-motorized trails, with an emphasis on environmental appreciation and stewardship. Garnet was their first Chair. This community based group designed and developed the Gully Lake Trail system creating over 30 kms of hiking trails within the Gully Lake Wilderness Area.

At the time it was one of the newest wilderness trail system in the province. Garnet was president, volunteer builder and trail builder throughout the process working with many dedicated volunteers which lead to hiking pathways such as Rogart Mountain Trail, Earltown Lake and Portage Trail to name only a few.

He has worked with the Cape to Cape Trail group that is part of the vision of a 400 km hiking trail through five counties which will include many of the trails he has helped shape throughout Colchester and Cumberland counties.

Garnet has been on the Hike Nova Scotia board since 2009 and is the immediate past president of Hike NS serving for 5 years. Garnet has been instrumental in providing strategic leadership that allowed the association to grow and expand.

He has led many hiking and snowshoeing events including  in Kenomee, Gully Lake, Beaver Mountain, Keppoch and Trenton Park trails to name only a few and his understanding of nature makes him a natural for sharing forest knowledge.

He has presented at many recreation conferences and seminars to share key messages around protecting our forests, setting aside land for biodiversity and promoting active lifestyles through the creation of quality sustainable hiking trails.

At the NS Trails Conference held at Cornwallis several years ago, he worked to design and create a legacy that would enhance the Mickey Hill Provincial Park so that delegates could learn trail building techniques on the ground and in doing so created a new section of hiking trail.

Garnet is a family man that wants to pass on his love for the outdoors and the importance of connecting with nature to both his family and others and it is for this and many other reasons mentioned that Hike NS wishes to acknowledge Garnet’s outstanding leadership and commitment in the development of hiking opportunities in Nova Scotia.

Thank you for your dedication, passion and for your expertise in inspiring communities around Economy, across Colchester County and Cumberland and, indeed, across Nova Scotia.

Hike NS is pleased to present Garnet McLaughlin the 2019 Summit Award.

Congratulations Garnet!


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