Family-friendly mountain biking trails are now a major outdoor attraction at the Englishman River Falls Provincial Park.
The cycling terrain located north of the park was officially opened on Thursday morning (June 18). BC Parks staff, workers, volunteers and members of the Arrowsmith Cycling Club celebrated the culmination of a six-year endeavour with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Kirby Villeneuve, recreation section head for BC Parks, envisioned the family-beginner cycling trails the moment he looked at a forested section of land in the park.
“It offers an opportunity to ride family-friendly easy trails but I assure you they are fun trails,” said Villeneuve. “They dip and doodle all over the place and they’re very sustainable. It’s just a gentle slope that they’re on which is conducive to nice contour-type trails. The mineral soil is very good here. It’s very sustainable and we expect these trails to last a very long time.”
The 2.3-kilometre, multi-use trail network will be maintained through a 10-year partnership agreement with the Arrowsmith Cycling Club. It is expected to attract more people to the park.
“To make it work for multi-use, we had to have it at a separate part of the park from where all the single-use trails are, around the river canyon, the river-centre walking trails,” Villeneuve explained. “We didn’t want to infringe on those. We wanted to create something new.”
The new cycling trails designed for all abilities are adjacent to a larger network of existing trails outside of the park known as Hammerfest, creating a variety of opportunities for mountain biking enthusiasts to enjoy.
“It’s exciting to see the project finished,” said Villeneuve. “People staying at the campground can bridge their ability utilizing the park as a safe trail environment and, if they wish, advance into the area outside of the park.”
To develop multi-use trails, BC Parks goes through a full impact assessment process. It looks for the presence of recreation conflicts or sensitive ecological or cultural values that may be nearby before any public engagement takes place. Mapped and plotted using a GPS, the trails are designed to avoid damaging large trees and root structures, and are carefully laid out with pin flags before the top layer of organics is removed by hand or machine.
Construction on the $100,000 trail network in Englishman River Falls Park began three years ago and was completed in three phases. Approximately 10 people (contractors and suppliers) worked on the project, along with more than two dozen volunteers from the ACC. Roy Kregosky, vice-president of the ACC, watched the trail come to life on a weekly basis.
“I think the new trail is a good thing for the park and it’s a good thing for the bike club as well, because it provides a safe introduction to mountain biking for beginners,” said Kregosky, who typically gets out for a ride at least three times a week. “It’s so nice being in the forest, in a natural environment with fresh air. I really enjoy it.”
The Arrowsmith Cycling Club is hosting an open house on Saturday, June 27, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are inviting the public to come out and learn more about the new addition to the park. They will set up a booth at the main parking lot of the park, where the official entrance to the new cycling trails is located.
“It is just an opportunity for the general public to look at some maps, get some information and we can talk to them about the multi-use trails, as well as the Arrowsmith Cycling Club,” said Kregosky.