A popular nature trail that carves a route within the heavily treed embankment above the Bow River is officially closed to the public but that hasn’t stopped intrepid Calgarians from blazing their own access to the path.

“It’s like practically being in the mountains in the city,” said Teresa Matlashewski, a resident of Wildwood who continues to walk her dog along the path. “It’s wonderful. It’s a great recreational trail for everybody to use.”

The City of Calgary has closed the beloved trail in Edworthy Park (map below) citing structurally compromised bridges and slope concerns. A review of alternate trail alignments is underway.

“The infrastructure that was there is now well over 30 years old and it’s starting to fail and, in some cases, has failed,” explained Doug Marter, Calgary Park’s manager of capital planning and infrastructure.

Mike Bracko, a resident of Wildwood for nearly 20 years, is disappointed the city made its decision without public consultation.

“It’s frustrating to see the signs, to see the fences,” said Bracko. “There really hasn’t been any public consultation. There hasn’t been anyone on the trail saying ‘Hey, what do you think of the trail?’”

In the coming months, the city is expected to release the results of its Douglas Fir Trail Geotechnical Assessment and Rehabilitation Study. The study will be followed by a period of public consultation.

Bracko says the city’s attempt to improve safety along the path places those who continue to use the trail in danger.

“The city says it’s unsafe (but) they’re making it more unsafe by taking out all the bridges,” said Bracko. “Now, people are having to cross bridges where there’s just some planks across.”

According to the city, groundwater continues to jeopardize the stability of the bank and core samples have been gathered for soil evaluation. Marter says the issues along the trail have been emerging for years.

“We’ve got a problem in that particular area,” explained Marter. “We’ve got geotechnically unstable slope. We’ve got lots of springs. We’ve got some slippage happening now.”

The estimated cost of trail repairs has not been determined but the city does plan to eventually reopen the trail.

“We would appreciate it if people would just let us work through this process because our goal is to get the Douglas Fir Trail back in a form that’s safe for everybody to use,” adds Marter. "We realize it's an inconvenience."

For more information regarding the trail and its closure, visit City of Calgary – Douglas Fir Trail.

With files from CTV's Kevin Fleming

Douglas Fir Trail closure map (Courtesy: City of Calgary)