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New entry limits imposed at Rock Dunder hiking trails

People enjoying the incredible view at Rock Dunder. Kingstonist file photo.

The Rideau Waterway Land Trust (RWLT) has announced new entry limits at the popular local hiking destination Rock Dunder. The new changes take effect on Friday, Sep. 18, 2020.

According to a statement on RWLT’s Rock Dunder Facebook page, entry to the hiking trails will be limited to 30 groups per hour.

“Due to the increased demand for outdoor recreational activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the hiking trails at Rock Dunder have experienced record-setting levels of usage since our opening in May,” said RWLT. Their gate staff have reportedly monitored the situation closely, surveying exiting hikers during peak times to watch for social distancing.

RWLT reports that safe operating capacity was exceeded for the first time on Saturday, Sep. 5, when over 220 groups visited Rock Dunder between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.*

“The RWLT board decided that enacting an hourly limit on the number of groups entering the property would allow everyone to better enjoy their time in nature while still following governmental and health guidelines on social distancing,” their statement read.

Anyone wishing to hike between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. can purchase tickets for a specific time slot through Eventbrite. Reservations cost $10. Visitors must arrive during the hour indicated on their ticket, and are strongly encouraged to purchase a pass in advance. If the capacity limit at the trail is reached, groups without a pass will be turned away.

The RWLT had also previously implemented the following COVID-19 safety protocols, which are still in effect:

  • Drivers are asked to wear masks when purchasing passes at the trail head.
  • Please use contactless forms of payment – credit or debit.
  • All trails are one way to facilitate social distancing. Please follow the posted signage.
  • Washrooms are closed for the 2020 season. Used toilet paper and other trash must be bagged and taken offsite by the hiker.

“At RWLT we understand the need for outdoor recreation opportunities during these stressful times. The new procedures are designed to protect everyone as well as the sensitive environmental features on the properties while still allowing hikers an opportunity to experience nature. The Board of Directors wishes everyone a safe, healthy fall,” the statment read.

Rock Dunder rises 275 feet above Morton Bay, and offers unparelleled views of the UNESCO recognised Rideau Canal and Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve. Hiking the trails requires a Day / Supporter Pass. The RWLT is a charitable organization that has been working to preserve significant natural lands within the Rideau Corridor since 1996.

*Note – At the time of publication, the RWLT’s Facebook statement indicates that 220 groups attended the trails over the course of the day. The hours included here were verified by the Kingstonist with RWLT staff prior to publication.

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Samantha Butler-Hassan

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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