Blazing Trails In Bruce County

words & photos: Scott Parent 

TREADscape is a small, highly skilled trail-development company located near Lion’s Head, Ontario. Specializing in consulting, design, building and maintaining trails across the region and beyond, and operated by professional trail developer Zane Davies.

Zane and his wife Muffy live on the Bruce with their two children Zev and Roz, and their Karelian bear dog Talvi.

In Bruce County, trails are part of the fabric of the land. Threads of forest-bathing time for some, singletrack adrenaline ride for someone else; they provide access to astonishing locations across the region. The 900km Bruce Trail travels from one end to the other, and has been walked on for centuries. Trails in Bruce County are as old as the woods, and some are even older.

article continues below
Family time on the Bruce Peninsula.

As a professional trail developer, Zane’s expertise and insights have served many organizations across the Bruce County region, including the Bruce Trail Conservancy, Ontario Nature, Ontario Heritage Trust and the Nature Conservancy of Canada to name a few.

“My career really started with the opportunity to work for Bruce County as a trails technician back in 2009.”

That was a couple of years after he and his high school sweetheart Muffy decided to move to the Bruce Peninsula and call it home, eventually raising a family.

Hailing from Huron County, the couple had often thought living on the peninsula would be a dream come true. When Muffy was offered a full-time paramedic position on the Bruce, the decision came easy. Not long after, they bought a house just outside of Lion’s Head.

Sharing a passion for getting out in the wilderness, they find the Peninsula offers them the chance to live the lifestyle they enjoy together, out on the Escarpment trails or paddling along the Georgian Bay shoreline. “Moving to the Bruce was an obvious choice for us. For the outdoor explorer, this place has everything,” Zane exclaims.

Zane’s trail-developing instincts were profoundly influenced by early experiences he and Muffy shared as volunteer firefighters on the Bruce.

Zane is certified in high angle rescue, ice and water rescue, and is also a teacher. The call would come in and they would have to perform rescues on the local trails and along the Escarpment. These experiences provided Zane insights into trail safety and user experience and ultimately inspired the creation of TREADscape.

With a somewhat holistic approach, Zane emphasizes the user experience as the goal when working through developing a trail system. As well as environmental impacts both when building the trail as well as for its use. Trail users will be more inclined to stay on the path if it is designed and built properly, which helps protect fragile ecosystems beyond the trail. Keeping people on the path is the goal. How the trail is intended to be used is a key factor when designing the trail.

Staying on trail with Zane and his little one.

Together, Zane and Muffy also created Explorer’s Tread, contributing a full-service hike, bike and paddle guiding company to the Peninsula that offers facilitation and education as a way to help prevent some of the scenarios they had assisted with in search and rescue. Explorer’s Tread also offers extraordinary day trip adventures along the Bruce Peninsula to tourists visiting the area.

“The trail is the thread that provides the social fabric when I’m guiding,” Zane adds. “My rescue training has definitely taught me how to build safer trails and be a safer guide.”

Communities in Bruce County are vibrant and unique, thanks to families like the Davies choosing to move here and call it home. —ML