Kirby Villeneuve envisioned a family-friendly mountain bike trail network the moment he looked at a forested section of land in Englishman River Falls Provincial Park.
The north-facing terrain, along with compactable mineral soil conditions, made the area an ideal candidate for sustainable trail construction.
Six years later, that vision has been brought to life. The park, located along the Englishman River north of Nanaimo, now has a 2.3-kilometre multi-use trail network that will be maintained through a 10-year partnership agreement with the Arrowsmith Cycling Club (ACC). Designed for all abilities, the trails 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. 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,” said Villeneuve, recreation section head for BC Parks. “It’s part of a larger strategy for parks as we look at where we can put more bike-friendly facilities.”
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. About 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,” Kregosky said, 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.”
As mountain biking becomes more popular, so is the demand for construction of pump tracks in or around BC Parks. The figure-eight pump tracks are built like a mini BMX track for kids, complete with dips, bumps and banked turns. So far, nine pump tracks have been built within provincial parks and about 50 parks allow bikes on portions of trails.
For more information about biking in and around BC Parks, visit: http://bcparks.ca/recreation/biking/
For more information about the Arrowsmith Cycling Club, visit: https://arrowsmithcyclingclub.com/
To learn more about Englishman River Falls Provincial Park, visit: http://bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/englishman_rv/