Kimberley Trails Society general manager Ryan McKenzie gives an update on spring conditions as well as the numerous plans for a busy summer ahead. KTS photo.

Kimberley Trails Society general manager Ryan McKenzie gives an update on spring conditions as well as the numerous plans for a busy summer ahead. KTS photo.

Update on spring conditions and summer plans from the Kimberley Trails Society

A long, cool and wet spring has kept some of Kimberley’s trails soft and not quite ready to ride, but Kimberley Trails Society (KTS) general manager Ryan McKenzie said it’s also given the organization time to get good and organized ahead of the summer season, which is shaping up to be busy and very productive.

Thanks to a grant from Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), KTS was able to hire a new trail crew of five this year, who have been out for the past couple weeks, working mainly on the south and lower elevation trails in the area, as those are the only ones that are truly accessible and dry at this point.

Most of the north-facing trails and higher-elevation trails still have quite a bit of snow, with some areas even in the Nature Park still having two to three feet of snow in shady spots.

“All those south facing slopes have been pretty actively cleared and users have been using them quite a bit, because they’re the only place to go right now,” McKenzie said.

KTS has a good group of volunteers who help out throughout the winter that also work in the summer, plus seasonal volunteers who only go out in the summer that have already been out clearing trees. McKenzie explained that some of the trails that are used less in the winter don’t get anything cleared off of them for those months, leaving a big project of clearing all the downed trees out for the first weeks of May.

McKenzie said he’s noticed that due to the work done by the BC Wildfire Service and the Bonfire Risk Reduction Program, there is actually less downed trees to remove than in years past.

“In previous years we’ve had just massive amounts of trees in some of those hotspot areas that are also high risk for forest fires,” he said. “So now we’re seeing slightly less downed trees and hopefully less wildfire risk in those places. So two bonuses on that one.”

If you are unsure which trails are ready to go and which are not, McKenzie advises reaching out to the trails society by messaging them on their Facebook or Instagram accounts, or visiting their website. They will soon be putting out trail crew updates every Friday that will discuss which trails the crews have been working on and what trails have opened over the week previous.

“Some areas get pretty boggy and then as everyone knows, creating ruts is never fun, it just takes time for the trail crew to fix those kinds of things up, especially on some of the trails that got fixed up late in the season last year,” McKenzie said. “There’s a few on Bootleg that saw a bit of reworking and any time you do that in the fall, the first few weeks of spring it’s usually really soft until it hardens off, so staying away from that and checking things like trail forks to see what’s ready.”

Trail nights will also be rolling out within the next couple weeks of May. Locations are still to be determined and will depend on where the high-priority areas area.

KTS recently held one at the bike park and dirt jumps that saw a great turnout and a lot of work was completed. They also used it as an opportunity to gather some feedback for a survey they will release within the next few days. Based on public engagement they hope to determine what’s needed at the dirt jump park and if they can find resources to revitalize the area, open it up more, connect it to the skate park area and make the bike park safer.

A lot of maintenance has taken place and a lot of changes are coming to some area trails. McKenzie noted that some trails around the campground and in Louis Creek that have always been on private land and now the private land owners are doing some development, meaning KTS is proactively working with those groups to either reroute trails or maintain access to certain trails.

Finally, the big project is Electrify the Mountains, which is being completed for the City of Kimberley with funding provided by the Province under the Tourism Dependent Community Fund.

KTS has awarded three contracts over the past six months, to put a number of new trails in or refurbish or reroute existing trails, with the bulk being up at the Nordic Centre, McKenzie explained. A new diverse network of trails will be focused on biking and built for e-mountain bikes and open to e-bikes, with kids trails, adaptive trails and more advanced trails as well.

The City is also working on charging stations for e-bikes and installing accessible washrooms.

“It’s super exciting,” McKenzie said. “It will finally be a good set of mountain bike specific and e-bike specific trails in town which will relieve some pressure from some areas that have seen lots of biking but aren’t necessarily designed to withstand significant numbers of bikes, so I hope it will help the whole trail system by adding a new set of trails.”

He added he is also excited to see the return of the Round the Mountain race this June and hopes to see Kimberley host Bootleg Bike Fest this fall.



paul.rodgers@kimberleybulletin

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