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Can you spare a day to help Fraser Valley trails?

Keith Sanders
Mountain Biking with Keith
Keith Sanders
Staff Photo |

We have a great trail system and it keeps on getting better. There are a lot more bikes out on the trails and in town than ever before.

Trails experiences, signage and maps are all improving, Just this summer the Leland Creek area has seen trail improvements and additions on the Leap Frog trail. In Idlewild Crosstrails now connects to Arrow. The reroute of the bottom of Broken Thumb is ready to be created. The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce has created a very accurate paper and online map of the trail system. These are the best maps that we have ever had.

The online map was done through a partnership with Headwaters Trails Alliance in order to improve the map and reach the greatest amount of users. Due to the efforts of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce marketing of mountain biking has never been greater and the results are being seen. National publications and online media outlets such as mtbr.com, geargals.com, girlbikelove.com, skinet.com (Ski and Skiing magazine) and many others are giving Mountain Bike Capital USA quite a bit of well deserved love.

All of this is not without substantial effort and costs. The Town of Winter Park has stepped up substantially through its trail construction and generous funding to the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce has invested in marketing mountain biking under Mountain Bike Capital USA. Headwaters Trails Alliance plays a key role by coordinating volunteers and projects as well by taking on a huge work load of trail maintenance and vision. The U.S. Forest Service is a key partner and without their assistance and willingness to see into the future our trails would be a shadow of what we have today. There are many others who take the time give back to the trails as well.

I know there are a fair amount people that help keep the trails clear and maintained. This is done through organized work parties or often times on an unofficial basis through individual efforts- how many thousands of trees have been cleared by “tree fairies”. Many times I see the same faces on volunteer projects or meetings regarding trails. As much as we try to involve mountain bikers and other users to contribute to trail upkeep it is very difficult to find out how to volunteer.

A prime example of not knowing how to contribute is the amount of trails that are user built over the past 15 years (a topic of a future article). Some of them are on our short list of favorite trails and a few have been adopted to the official trail system. Yet had those who created the user built trails known how to go through the process to make them official trails to the trail system then we would be able to sign, map and maintain them enabling those trails to last for eternity.

It is not that mountain bikers don’t want to work on the trails but it is more If you are not in “the know” on how to volunteer or how the process works then you may not be able find out how. There are efforts being made to make it easier to contribute yet improvements need to be made to that system in order for it to become successful. This comes down to not should it be done but the lack of resources to make it happen. Currently Headwaters Trails Alliance has taken on the role of providing information on volunteer opportunities but few people are aware of that organization (https://headwaterstrails.org/). This is not a negative reflection of their work ethic but HTA has many goals and due to a very small budget their workload far exceeds their capabilities.

Our economy is on an upswing. Not only are people visiting Winter Park and Grand County due to the recreational opportunities but many are choosing to establish a home due to the lifestyle we all love. A key factor in making the decision to live or recreate here is the quality of the outdoor and trail experience. Currently the efforts being put into our trails are giving the greatest economic return to our communities.

Our dilemma is how do we improve the trail system that we currently have. This will take several factors to make this happen. First is that HTA needs substantial additional funding to be able to carry out the goal of implementing the vision of what the trail system can be and also lead the efforts to maintain the trail system that we have. Second is that efforts from individuals and volunteers needs to be coordinated in a streamlined easy to use and easy to find system. This will allow for agencies and groups involved with trails to combine efforts to get the most done with the limited resources at hand. Third is that more people need to become active in helping maintain and improve our trail system. Now the big question is what can you do to improve upon the system? Can you take a day to give back to the trail system that you use?

Grand Mountain Bike Alliance is actively looking for someone or a group of people to help coordinate volunteer and trail efforts. Ideas that have surfaced are identifying priorities of what needs to be done to the trail system so that the most important tasks are being addressed. Another is setting consistent times and locations each week to work on trails, I.E. every Tuesday evening at X pm there is some type of trail work going on. Contact me at keith@winterparkskirental.com to get these projects started.

Group ride

Beavers Sports Shop next the Best Western Hotel does a group ride Friday night at 6:00. This ride is for the intermediate and above rider. We will explore the local trail system as a group. For more info call the shop at 726-5988.

Looking for more information or want to get involved as a mountain biker. Like Grand Mountain Bike Alliance (GMBA) on Facebook. GMBA is your local mountain bike group. Check out Mountainbikecapitalusa.com. Great site by the Winter Park Chamber!

Keith Sanders is the President of the Grand Mountain Bike Alliance, 3x US National Mountain Bike Champion and owner of Beavers Sports Shop. You can reach him at keith@winterparkskirental.com.


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