January 2023

Be Safe, Be Seen, Be Courteous- Trail Etiquette

Stay Right
– Always keep to the right of the trail, particularly if you are traveling at a slower speed.
Pass Safely
– Always pass others on their left.
– Cyclists must use their bell or give a friendly, verbal warning before passing another cyclist or pedestrian.
– Cyclists should keep their speed low when passing pedestrians.
Keep Your Distance
– Respect the space of others. Maintain at least two metres, or one bike length, between yourself and those not in your household.
– Be extra cautious when cycling around older adults, children and pets.
Be Aware of Others
– When approaching a sharp turn on your bike that obstructs your view, approach slowly, use your bell or give a verbal warning and proceed when clear to do so.
– Don’t block the trail. If stopping for a break, pull off to the side or off of the trail completely, allowing trail traffic to continue safely.
– Make sure that you can hear what’s going on around you, especially while you’re listening to music, talking or texting on your phone, or chatting with your walking buddy.
– Keep your dog on-leash and make sure they are well-behaved at all times.
Be Seen and Be Safe
– Make sure your bike has a light and reflectors that can be seen by others.
– Wear a bike helmet. In an accident, helmets greatly reduce the risk of injury or even death. While it is required for anyone under the age of 18 to wear a helmet while riding their bike, it is strongly recommended that everyone riding their bike wear a helmet.





December 2022

Note that the Howard Watson Trail is left in its natural state during the winter. There is no winter maintenance. No plowing. No salting. Sections of the trail will be slippery and ice-covered. Sections will be covered with deep snow. Please take all necessary precautions and enjoy the trail in all its natural beauty in winter.

September 15/22

Please consider others while using our trails. Whether you cycle, walk or run, you must share the trail with others. It’s for all of us. See the trail rules at https://www.bluewatertrails.com/trail-rules/


May 2022

NOTE that the St. Clair Conservation Authority plans to soon close the south section of the trail in the Wawanosh Wetlands. The closing is temporary and will allow the natural landscape to recover from heavy pedestrian use since the onset of the pandemic. 


February 12, 2022

Work continues this year with the Rapids Parkway Expansion project, which will see enhancements to the HWNT, the installation of Sarnia’s first roundabout at Quinn Drive, and enhanced safety measures at the Exmouth Street intersection. See more details at this link: https://www.bluewatertrails.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Rapids-Parkway-Expansion-2022-Project-Update.pdf

Update December 17, 2021

Please maintain safe social distancing on our trails over the holiday season . With the highly transmissible Omicron virus sure to appear in our area, distancing will be even more crucial to public health. 

Best wishes for Happy Holidays from the Bluewater Trails Committee.


Update November 16, 2021:

All trail sections are now open since work on the Rapids Forcemain project has finished for this year. Further trail closures will be needed in 2022 as the project to extend the Rapids Parkway under the 402 overpass continues. 


Rapids Forcemain Project Update for September 10/21


  1. The project has been on hold since June due to unforeseen material shortages;
  1. Materials were received last week and operations will resume on Monday Sept 13/21;
  1. The Howard Watson Nature Trail will be closed from Exmouth to Retford beginning Monday Sept 13/21 for about 6 weeks.   The Contractor will be resuming its directional drilling work to complete the installation of the Forcemain Piping that they had begun previously,

Next report:  Sept 24/2021.


Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns.  

Andrew Epp, P.Eng, PMPProject ManagerCity of Sarnia

255 Christina Street North

Sarnia, ON  N7T 7N2

Phone: 519-332-0527 Ext. 3200
Cell:  519-331-2876




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 https://www.bluewatertrails.com/rapids-parkway-extension/

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 https://www.bluewatertrails.com/committee-members/

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.