Avid hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders now have more Shuswap trails to explore.
Despite restrictions around COVID-19, several Shuswap trail projects came to fruition over the summer, some with the help of volunteers.
Among the new trails constructed this season was a 2.2-kilometre extension of the Shuswap Memorial Cemetery Trails system on 20th Avenue SE. A hillside trail was constructed to accommodate hikers and mountain bike riders.
“It’s a more gentle climb, it kind of stays around 10 per cent grade,” explained the Shuswap Trail Alliance’s Phil McIntyre-Paul. “The west side where it comes down is a little steeper and you’ll notice there’s little jumps and undulations, so someone who is a more experienced mountain bike rider can speed up and have a little bit of fun.”
Shuswap Trail Alliance project operations manager Adrian Bostock said the new loop, as a biking trail, rates as “more difficult” or a blue square, in accordance with the International Mountain Bike of Canada trail difficulty rating system.
Knowing hikers would use the trail, McIntyre-Paul said it was designed with clear sight lines and various twists and switchbacks so riders have to slow down.
“It needs a season to settle, you can see it’s quite dusty,” said McIntyre-Paul of the trail. “It will take the snow and spring rains and stuff and it will settle nicely.”
New trails and additional works were also completed within the South Canoe trail system, including two trails that were completed with volunteer support. This was a pleasant surprise for the Trail Alliance, which had to cancel its volunteer work parties due to COVID-19.
“It was almost like the volunteer trail days morphed into appropriately physically distanced individuals and families,” said McIntyre-Paul, who received calls during the summer from individuals and families wanting to help out. “I’ve been moved by how that’s worked.”
Projects completed at South Canoe include the addition of parking space within the park area and, near that, a small skills area and trail loop specifically for kids. McIntyre-Paul said that will connect to a yet-to-be constructed shelter in memory of Rob Nash.
“That will get used because the South Canoe School, the outdoor school, is using the South Canoe trails as a major component of their outdoor classroom. So it will double as an outdoor learning space as well,” said McIntyre-Paul.
Another completed project is a single track trail for people who want to keep off the the forestry road.
“It’s possible to go out and South Canoe now and walk/hike or equestrian ride pretty much exclusively on purpose built, single track trails,” said McIntyre-Paul. “You have to cross the roads a few times, but if you don’t want to be on a forestry road, that’s now an option.”
To the east, work is nearing completion on an extension to the North Fork Wild trail system near Craigellachie.
“We built about 700 metres of trail, we’ll call it the lower loop trail,” said Bostock, explaining the trail runs along Crown land adjacent to the North Fork Wild Conservation Park.
“It’s really cool,” said Bostock. “The terrain is very rough… we’d call it class 5 trail – it’s not hard to follow but it’s definitely like a harder walking route. Lots of rock stairs and wouldn’t bridges and all sorts of fun stuff.”
In addition to the volunteer support, McIntyre-Paul and the Shuswap Trail Alliance crew are also grateful to Ian Gray and Ian Gray’s Salmon Arm GM, which provided two trucks for use by trail alliance crews. This allowed them to work while maintaining physical distancing.
“It saved us,” said McIntyre-Paul. “We could actually get people out to the different sites and up the forestry road to the South Canoe site and out to North Fork Wild.”