All sections of Howard Watson Trail are open today.


Rapids Forcemain Project Update for May 7/21

  1. Directional drilling (and installation of Forcemain piping)  is on hold due to global supply shortage of plastic piping.  Work will resume in early June.
  2. Further closures of the HWNT expected once work resumes.  The intention remains to keep closures as short and as localized as possible.
  3. The project team will meet next week to consider those future closures based on the availability of material and the revised order of activities. 

Next report:  May 21/2021



UPDATE as of noon April 30 re TRAIL to REOPEN MAY 1

The Howard Watson Nature Trail will be reopened, temporarily, this weekend (May 1) from Sandpiper to London Line due to a worldwide shortage of plastic resin that has led to delays in sewer piping expected for the forcemain project. The contractor has made the trail safe for citizens to use while the project is on hold because we know how important the trails are to our community. Please enjoy using the trail and remain respectful to any safety measures in place.


UPDATE as of 3PM April 28 re Vandalism Problems on HWNT

Fencing has been erected around the excavation site at the forecemain project along the Howard Watson Nature Trail for the safety of the public. Signage has been posted indicating the closure of the trail. Ground surrounding the excavation site is very loose and the fencing has been erected for the safety of trail users. 

Ongoing vandalism of these measures could extend the trail closure due to time spent rectifying the damage to ensure public safety.

The overall Rapids Parkway Extension project consists of the road extension under Highway 402 to Exmouth Street, stormwater servicing, trail modifications, extension of the watermain, sanitary forcemain, and modifications of the pumping stations.

Phase 1 of this project is currently underway. This involves extension of the watermain, sanitary forcemain, and pumping station modifications. It is expected to be complete in approximately one year.

Please remain respectful of the safety measures in place so the project can continue as scheduled. The current closed section of the trail is expected to open mid-May, and other additional closures will be required throughout the project.



UPDATE as of April 28

The HWNT has been closed from Sandpiper to London Line for the past two weeks and will remain closed for another two weeks (planned re-opening of May 14/21). To notify the public the City has issued social media and traditional media releases and signage was posted by the Contractor. Regrettably we may have to extend the closure as restoring the construction sites to safe conditions is delaying work.
Please be aware (and share with friends and neighbours) that there are open excavations now along the trail and the surrounding soil is quite loose. Any person who should not be on the site could easily slip into one of these pits and get hurt. We have posted safety signage which continues to be vandalized, unfortunately.
The safety of everyone involved in this project is the city’s top priority. Beyond the physical safety aspects I fully understand how important the Trail is to the Public’s well-being. While there will be more closures this summer I anticipate that they will be shorter durations and be far more localized. We will continue to notify the public in advance of the closures.
Andrew Epp, City of Sarnia



UPDATE as of April 19/21

While Ontario remains in a stay-at-home status until mid-May, our trail system remains open. This includes the Waterfront Trail, the Howard Watson Trail, the Nick Malik Walkway, and all other linked trails within the Bluewater Trails network. Please maintain distancing at all times, leash your pet and leave nothing behind but your footprints.


NOTE: We are seeing increasing instances of folks leaving plastic bags containing pet waste deposited along or near the trails. Please don’t do that. The city has no program to clean this up. It’s your pet, so clean-up is your responsibility. Please have consideration for the many other people who use our trails. 

Read all about the Rapids Parkway Extension, including the work involved, timelines, rationale, impacts on the Howard Watson Trail, and images depicting the final result:A full public input process was conducted (regarding the Rapids Pkwy Extension) in 2019. Read about it at

The trails, especially Howard Watson, are experiencing a high number of daily users. Peak hours are 10am-4pm. Avoid crowds by going in off-peak hours.Also, keep your pet on a leash. There is a $300 fine for unleashed pets and if your pet injures another trail user, you could be subject to legal action and liable for larger financial costs. And leave NOTHING BEHIND on the trail, including trash and dog waste.


There is limited parking at the trail gateways at Modeland Rd., Suncor Nature Way on Modeland Rd., Michigan Ave (across from Goodwill), and Cathcart Park. The Howard Watson Trail can also be accessed from the Lambton College parking lot, which connects directly with the new College Extension of the trail. The trail can also be accessed at the Swiss Chalet/Starbucks parking lot on London Road. The plaza there has ample parking and the trail runs directly adjacent to the lot on the eat side.


Recent Trail Improvements

  • pedestrian crossings with LED flashing lights at Front Street, Michigan Ave and Wellington St, complete with road markings and warning signs
  • full stoplights and marked crossing at Exmouth Street trail crossing
  • enhanced road marking on crossings at Telfer and Blackwell Roads
  • resurfacing of trail from Michigan Ave. north to Bright’s Grove
  • year-round washroom facility at Cathcart Park and Suncor Nature Way. Seasonal at Sam McRea Firehall on Telfer Road
  • improved access from trail to Cathcart Park
  • improved access from Tawny Road access path to trail
  • gateways at Michigan Ave and Modeland Road equipped with shelters, parking spaces, benches and waste receptacles
  • extensive tree plantings
  • installation of trail markers at strategic locations

The Bluewater Trails Committee for the term 2021-2023 has been selected by City Council and the members’ names and contact information are available here at

The Howard Watson Trail, part of the Bluewater Trails network of trails,  runs 16 km. from Sarnia to Camlachie (at Mandaumin). No motorized vehicles are allowed.

Until 1967, the Howard Watson trail was a rail line owned by CN Rail.  From 1967 to 1982 it lay unused until a forward thinking Councillor by the name of Howard Watson approached Lambton Wildlife Inc (LWI) querying whether there would be interest in the land as a potential hiking trail. After extraordinary effort by many individuals, we now enjoy the current day natural trail known as The Howard Watson Trail.

The Bluewater Trails Committee, the caretakers of the trail, was formed in 1999. Its job is to oversee trails throughout Sarnia including The Howard Watson Trail. The committee is run by volunteers and chaired currently by Mike Kelch, with Vice Chair Ati Powell, and with one city council representative and two city staff.

Mission Statement: Bluewater Trails, a committee of Sarnia (City) Council, is an organization dedicated to the development of a first class trail system which will promote the health and safety of residents and visitors alike.