SORCA Trail Report – May 

Our small trail crew has grown larger; we are now a crew of 4 after Karston Voth and Kendra Finch joined the crew. Having a crew of 4 allows us to break up into two groups and tackle different projects. Over the last couple of weeks, we have focused on tackling issues on the arterial and heavy-trafficked trails. We have been rebuilding bridges, opening blocked culverts, and armouring run-outs.  

Our cedar bridges have a typical lifespan of 10-13 years before we need to replace them.

When wood slats fail, we inspect the stringers. The broken slats show that the wood is getting old. Sometimes, we will fix the bridge with slats and mark it as requiring a rebuild. Otherwise, we will rebuild the bridge immediately.  Two bridges that we have rebuilt recently are on Mike’s Loop and Cliff’s Corners.  

We are fortunate in Squamish that historical logging of the ’60s to ’70s often left the cedar trees, as they were not considered valuable back then.  As a result, we are fortunate to be able to build bridges out of abandoned cedar in the forest adjacent to trails.  It typically takes us about two days to construct a small bridge.  

The first day involves removing the old bridge, harvesting slats, stringers, and peeling wood.  We prepare the ground with rocks on the second day, place sleepers, and start framing. The third day is nailing the slats, armouring the lead and exit of the bridge and cleaning up the site. When the bridge is complex or cedar is not readily available near the work site, it takes us longer to complete the bridge. 

Other projects we have tackled:

  • Raking all the rocks on Pseudo Pstuga – in preparation for the SORCA kids’ enduro
  • Working with Dream Wizards on lower Ditch Pig
  • Led a trail day with Capra Running on Roller Coaster – worked on drainage, rebuilt the small ride-around at the trail’s end, and smoothed out berms. 
  • Rebuilt the section of the Mashiter road that had been damaged by running water below Cliff’s Corners.
  • Cleared culverts on the Mashiter Road and Tracks from Hell (many were very clogged)
  • Built a small roll-down for the log jump on Jack’s Trail
  • Armoured a transition on the steeper rock slab on Leave of Absence
  • Lower Word of Mouth – worked on a section of trail in the cut-block to eventually re-connect the trail 
  • Cleared blowdown on Mike’s Loop and East Infection, and Word of Mouth
  • Removed broken bridge on Cheshire Cat
  • Replaced some slats on Tracks from Hell skinny

Dave Wisdom:

Ah, bridges versus culverts for trail building.  They both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Bridges allow more volume of water to pass down the stream or creek as they typically are much higher than the stream bed and can span long distances.  It is also easier to clear debris collecting underneath them. The downfall is that they have a much shorter lifespan than a culvert, so they need to be replaced more often.  I find that fallen trees like to hit bridges. We typically build our bridges straight, as we find flat bridges with a corner on them or into them often results in unpredictable bike crashes.  

Culverts can be buried, so you do not see them when riding.  They can be an absolute nightmare to clear and often get blocked on the upstream side with wood or rocks.  Hard to inspect (fortunately, I have trained my dog to run through the larger ones, so she does most of the inspections).  It can be challenging to replace them if they get entirely blocked.  I also find that when not buried deep, the plastic pipe will often find the trail’s surface and can be very slippery for a tire.  The biggest issue with culverts is that many are too small in diameter and cannot accommodate run-off from large rain events.  

One thing of note:  Local weather is changing.  We build our bridges much higher and use larger diameter culverts than we did in the past.  We have learnt that rain events in excess of 200mm of rain are becoming more common.


SORCA Trails Coordinator/ Lead Builder