Cold nights with light rain make for some of the best riding conditions of the year.  This Spring has been amazing and we are getting lots of those perfect days.  

The freezing level seems to be travelling up and down like a yoyo, and fortunately, the snow is not sticking around.  The focus over the last month has been creating a work plan for the year, recruiting trail crew, assessing trails, and doing trail work on man-boobs.  

Squamish is changing.  The trail network has seen explosive growth in numbers.  Trails like Angry M and Pseudo-Pstuga are recording numbers in the 50,000 range per year.  We are no longer the sleepy town beside Whistler and are now a tourism destination.  This increase means we have to build trails to be more robust, and we have to work on preventing congestion on arterial trails.   

Last year, we did work on Pseudo-Pstuga to help move people out of the Diamond Head area. This year we are working on Man-boobs.  It is a trail I helped build (before joining SORCA) with Jim Harvey, Gary McFarlane, and Mike Genovese.  It’s officially a Jim Harvey trail as he did the lion’s share of the work. Back then, there wasn’t a Miki’s Magic, and ridership in that area probably recorded numbers in the thousands, instead of ten’s of thousands. 

So…  Yup.  We decided to build an alternate route around the first little climb. There were a couple of issues.  At 2:30 pm on any Saturday, that hill climb was creating congestion.  We would see groups of people stopping on the trail to push their bikes up the little hill, and other riders yelling at them to move aside.  Does not make for a great trail experience for either group.  Also, the trail was inevitably going to fail in that spot from erosion from foot traffic, and high usage. 

But…  Don’t worry the original hill climb still exists and if you are a strong rider with some gusto you can now pass slower riders in front of you by using it as a passing lane.  

March-April work:

  • Trail inspections and assessments 
  • Created trail crew work plan for the year
  • Removed old bridge on Angry M and built a new one
  • Cleared trees on Made in the Shade
  • Cleared trees on Ditch Pig
  • Cleared trees on Skookum
  • Cleared trees at Mamquam Whitewater Site and Fartherside
  • Cleared trees on Angry M
  • Cleared trees on Stl’lhalem Sintl’ (a.k.a. the Climb Trail)
  • Cleared trees on Spélhxen tl’a Stl’lhalem (a.k.a. Meadow of the Grizzly)

Dave’s limited wisdom. 

Last week we talked about looking at the vegetation to decide where you want to build a trail.  This week it’s about routing.  It is probably the most important decision in designing a trail.  Too often I see trails that were built with the heel of a shoe, and I know they will not last (and also tend to give ammunition to many user groups to state mountain bikers are terrible stewards of the environment).  

I always start from the bottom and hike upwards when considering a new trail.  You will naturally find a route that tends to avoid cliffs and find natural breaks in the terrain.  I know this is the result of being a bi-pedal animal that is reliant on sight.  We tend to be able to see obstacles when moving up a slope and we naturally prefer climbing at a mellow gradient.  If walking downhill, you typically find all the cliffs, and then have to struggle to find routes around them.  

I also take forever hiking an area to find the special features and try to link those together.  

I use pin flags.  I chase a 5-7 percent grade (unless in an area of granite slabs, or very rocky terrain).  I look for ridges and try to build trails on the side slope. One of the most critical thoughts in finding a trail route is to consider drainage, and riders breaking on their bikes.  If you don’t consider both, you will end up with a trail that is a big rut, and quickly abandoned as it gets to the point that it’s no fun. 

The hardest place to build trails is on steep slopes or flat ground.  Both can be very difficult to create drainage.  A steep slope can have water flowing down the trail which will lead to a ton of maintenance issues. A flat trail can end up with standing water that creates big sludge holes. 

Example of exemplary routing that captures many amazing natural features, and is built to last are some trails built by Gary McFarlaneincluding unrelated Dead Guys, Rupert, Single Track Mind, and Somewhere Over There.

Some Photo’s below of some recent work on Man Boobs