Mountain bike trails in the CRD take shape through co-operation
Mountain bike enthusiasts on the South Island are beginning to see some changes to the area’s most popular mountain bike park thanks to a partnership between government and park users.
Several mountain biking trails at Mount Work Regional Park have been improved, others have been realigned and a few deactivated.
A number of previously unsanctioned trails in the mountain biking area have also been formalized.
New difficulty rating and wayfinding signs are also being installed for better navigation of the biking area.
Signs indicating ecologically sensitive areas have already gone up, discouraging riders from entering.
It’s all been possible through co-operation between the Capital Regional District and the South Island Mountain Bike Society (SIMBS), a volunteer organization of mountain bike enthusiasts.
“We work together getting their expertise,” says CRD vice-chair Rebecca Mersereau. “A lot of their volunteer effort actually goes toward establishing trails and maintaining those trails so that they are lasting and they reduce impacts on the environment.”
Early in 2021, the CRD created the Mountain Biking Advisory Committee (MBAC), which consists of people in the capital region with an interest in recreation and a knowledge of the regional park system.
The intent of the MBAC is to help guide the CRD Regional Parks Committee in the development of mountain biking guidelines for regional parks.
“There is certainly a growing interest in our region in mountain biking from people of all ages and abilities,” according to Mersereau. “So we’ve been increasingly working with members of the mountain biking community to look at opportunities to both increase access to mountain biking facilities and also improve the quality of the current facilities that exist.”
On Dec. 1, the CRD announced it has signed a license agreement with the Sooke Bike Club to maintain existing, authorized mountain bike trails in the Sea to Sea Regional Park in the Sooke Hills.
In a press release the CRD says: “This license agreement aligns with the newly implemented Mountain Biking Guidelines, which recognize that mountain biking groups play a key role in championing mountain biking etiquette and sanctioned trails, monitoring and advocating for safe and quality experiences, and celebrating the recreational community.”
Those guidelines were developed with advice and guidance from the Mountain Biking Advisory Committee.
The Sea to Sea Regional Park is the second largest CRD Regional Park, encompassing almost 4,000 hectares.
Mount Manuel Quimper, within the park, has mountain biking trails ranging from “Easy” to “Extremely Difficult.”
Although some trails are mountain biking only, much of the 57-kilometre network of trails is shared by hikers, equestrians and mountain bikers.
There are new trails on the horizon as well, says Mersereau. The CRD has identified approximately 10 kilometres of trail suitable for beginners within the Thetis Lake Regional Park. Staff are working with the mountain biking community on how best to develop the new trail system, which could possibly be opening next year.
“Rather than constantly respond to trails being built that weren’t planned for, it’s much better to approach this proactively and work with these communities in order to see whether we can meet their needs in a way that allows us to plan the trails carefully and reduce their impact,” says Mersereau.
For a full list of where you can bike on CRD trails or in its parks, visit the CRD website.