Hiking fees at Blue Mountain Resort leaves a trail of unhappy people

Resort said trail maintenance adds to costs, physical distancing rules add new pressures

Happy trails?

Not so much for people who used to hike the trails at Blue Mountain Resort without having to pay.

The resort plans to reopen June 6, two months after being closed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that is when the new fees kick in.

Hiking the trails will require the public to buy an “Explore Pass” at $59 for adults, $49 for young adults, $39 for youth and $19 for children four and under.

“The price they are asking is ridiculous,” said 23 year old Mackenzie Robinson of Collingwood. “That’s a ridiculous amount of money for a hiking trail.”

Robinson, who attends teachers’ college, has decided to let her feet do the talking and she won’t be returning to hike the trails at Blue Mountain.

The “Explore Pass” also provides access to the gondala and hikers must have the pass displayed while on the trails.

Blue Mountain’s public relations manager Tara Lovell said the trail fee is part and parcel of the resort’s efforts to watch capacity at the resort and to offer enough space and provide physical distancing.

“At the zoo or even Wonderland, there is a gated entrance that can measure traffic. We can’t do that on the hiking trails and they are growing in popularity.”

Lovell said there is a trail crew that maintains and develops the trails, and there are hiking patrols for people who need assistance.

She said the resort was headed down the path of charging a fee based on the trajectory of the trail system’s popularity. Lovell said the COVID-19 pandemic has sped that up.

Robinson launched a petition on social media to gauge public response to the trail fees.

In about a week, well over 1,100 people had signed off on the petition, and a good number left angry comments.

Maintaining trails and bridges comes with a cost and Lovell said it’s about providing a standard of experience at Blue Mountain Resort. She said people don’t want a barren trail.

A small piece of the Bruce Trail crosses over the trails at Blue Mountain. Lovell said the resort is in talks with the operators of the Bruce Trail to find a solution.

The trail system is also being expanded to 30-kilometres, hikes will be one directional to avoid interaction with as many people as possible, and there will be more accessible trails for people in wheelchairs or pushing strollers.

Banner image courtesy: BlueMountain.ca