Durham Mountain Biking Association getting ready to unveil 12 kilometres of new trails
DMBA blazes new trails in Dagmar and Durham Forest
Benjamin Priebe / Metroland
UXBRIDGE -- The Durham Mountain Biking Association has completed six kilometres of mountain biking trails within the Dagmar ski hill property, connecting to the Durham Forest. They are building 12 kilometres of trails this season thanks to $20,000 in funding from the National Trails Coalition of Canada and money contributed by the DMBA itself. From left, DMBA volunteer Philip Yates rode into the work site, ready to pick up a shovel, while Terry Sinclair continued to dig up tree roots. July 23, 2015.
• More trails mean more recreational opportunities for all Durham residents.
• The project was designed to fit into and enhance Uxbridge’s designation as the Trail Capital of Canada by attracting riders to the area from surrounding communities in York, Toronto and Northumberland.
• Mountain bike specific trails should help to reduce bike traffic on other trail systems and reduce user conflict.
UXBRIDGE -- A new trail system for area mountain bikers is slowly but surely emerging out of the forest surrounding Dagmar Ski Resort’s cross-country trails.
The massive Dagmar North Trail Project, which has been undertaken entirely by volunteers from the Durham Mountain Biking Association, will include 12 kilometres of new single-track trails built and designed by mountain bikers for mountain bikers, although they will be open to all users once completed. The build was made possible by a partnership with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, which owns the land, and a $20,000 grant from the National Trails Council, which the DMBA matched.
“The TRCA is very much a partner and one thing they see is that this will reduce pressure on other TRCA lands,” said Tom Hanrahan, president of the DMBA, noting the nearby Durham Forest is currently one of the most heavily used trail networks for bikers.
“By creating more mountain bike-preferred trails we can reduce conflict between users and create some cool features too. Also Uxbridge is the Trail Capital of Canada so this is a great fit because it really enhances that.”
Nearly 150 volunteers have so far contributed more than 2,000 hours to the project, which will connect with Durham Forest and Glen Major Forest to create a loop. John Fisher, project lead for the DMBA, estimates that it takes about 350 volunteer hours to make one kilometre of trail. Currently six of the planned 12 kilometres have been completed.
“We’ve been on site working since April, but that doesn’t include the last six years of planning,” he explained, noting the DMBA has been negotiating, applying for grants and planning out trails for the project for far longer.
To create a trail, planners start with topographic maps, from which they choose potential corridors. The DMBA builds on slide slopes to prevent erosion and increase sustainability as it allows water to run off the trails rather than pooling and leaving behind mud.
“Once we do the topographic maps, we come out and walk and walk and walk,” Mr. Fisher explains. “We spend hundreds of hours just walking.”
That includes walking the chosen corridor and fanning out 50 metres to either side in search of natural features that can be incorporated into the trails, such as aggregate holes or drop-offs.
The only hired contractors are the machine operators who come in to create a loose corridor out of the brush, which volunteers then proceed to clear and shape, adding features and removing any hazards.
“This was a huge project, we really had to sell it to the club, but we thought it was important,” Mr. Fisher explained. “Now that it’s underway the people working on it are really excited and it’s created a lot of buzz in the community.”
Volunteers Genevieve Damphousse and Brian Bartlett joined the group on June 23 for a build night at the forest. They said building has allowed them to take ownership of the trails they will soon be enjoying.
“I think when you ride the trails knowing you built them, it’s more adrenaline,” Mr. Bartlett said. “It’s another perspective from what you get when you’re riding, building is much more technical with the angles and making the water drain, it’s interesting to see what goes into it.”
“We really like mountain biking and this is a good way to know the trails and just be a part of the project,” Ms. Damphousse added.
While DMBA has some history building trails, having added between seven and 10 kilometres of trails to the area in the last few years, this is the first time they have created specific mountain bike-preferred trails compared to multi-use.
“One reason we wanted mountain-bike specific trails was so we could relieve some bike traffic on other trails,” Mr. Fisher said, noting the trails will still be open to all users. “The mountain bikers build trails for everybody and we really try to educate our members on trail etiquette to reduce any user conflict. Bikes give way to everybody, that’s the rule.”
The association expects to have the trails completed, signed and ready for users in September.
“As much as we like building trails, we much prefer riding the trails,” Mr. Hanrahan said excitedly. “This is the biggest project we’ve ever taken on so it will be nice to see it when it’s done.”
DMBA is currently fundraising to recoup the $20,000 put into the project. Visit www.durhammountainbiking.ca to donate or for more information.