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You can go to jail for six months and get fined $10,000 for creating a trail in B.C.

Not only is creating a trail dangerous, but doing so may also cause irreparable damage to the natural ecosystems in the province.

While there are a number of beautiful places to hike in B.C., not everyone follows the designated trails in the province's parks.

In fact, a number of hikers and mountain bikers like to create their own trails. Some find it more convenient to do so, while others find it fun to make their own path. With that being said, this type of behaviour is extremely problematic. Not only can it be dangerous for people to travel off the beaten path, but they may also cause irreparable damage to the natural ecosystems.

The Government of British Columbia cites that unauthorized construction of these trails may result in:

  • soil erosion or soil compaction
  • negative effects on water quality or water flow
  • slope stability concerns
  • negative impacts for other resource users
  • safety and liability concerns, due to improperly built or maintained trails and structures
  • the spread of invasive plants
  • disruption of wildlife habitat or sensitive plant ecosystems

 Photo: woman in the woods / ShutterstockPhoto: woman in the woods / Shutterstock

Creating a trail

In order to deter the public from doing this, Natural Resource Officers regularly patrol Crown land. If they catch you in the act, or have a tip from someone, you may face fines or even jail-time.

In fact, failure to comply with applicable legislation may result in penalties of up to $10,000, remediation orders and/or prison terms of up to six months.

It is illegal to cut down trees without permission, build unauthorized trails or construct unapproved recreational facilities on Crown land.

Members of the public are encouraged to call 1 877 952-7277 toll-free (or #7277 on a cellphone) to report illegal trails or suspicious activity. They can also report a suspected natural resource violation online by filling out a form at: https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hen/nrv/report.htm

In addition, the public is reminded to maintain the beauty and safety of our parks by always taking their garbage with them.