A biking vision that’s been in the works for six years is now a reality as a family-friendly cycling trail network has now opened at Englishman River Falls Provincial Park.
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).
Kirby Villeneuvem, working as a recreation section head for BC Parks, envisioned a mountain bike trail network the moment he looked at a forested section of land in the Provincial Park.
He says the north-facing terrain, along with compactable mineral soil conditions, made the area an ideal candidate for sustainable trail construction.
The new biking trails are designed for all abilities, and are located next 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, says the provincial government.
“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. “It’s part of a larger strategy for parks as we look at where we can put more bike-friendly facilities.”
Construction on the $100,000 trail network in Englishman River Falls Park began three years ago by about 10 people, working as contractors and suppliers, as well as 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.”
Mountain biking is gaining traction across the province, and on the south end of Vancouver Island, the CRD is looking to gather a mountain biking committee, to help develop mountain bike guidelines.
The province says 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.
BC Parks can’t build trails just anywhere. There is a full impact assessment process to look 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.