Major trail connector coming: Morning Mountain Trail project begins south of the city
While many outdoor enthusiasts spent the weekend at Whitewater Ski Hill or skiing in the backcountry, some will want to know that work has begun on a new trail that will connect the extensive the Morning Mountain trail system to the Great Northern Trail (the Trans Canada Trail) south of the city.
The 7.5-kilometre Morning Mountain trail project — which will bridge the gap between Morning Mountain and Cottonwood Lake — began in October and was halted in late November when the snow hit the ground.
Spearheaded by the Nelson Cycling Club (NCC), the completed trail is expected to add another essential facet to the jewel of mountain biking and hiking trail inventory around Nelson, said NCC member Joel McBurney.
“It will improve the experience of climbing up to, or descending down from, the Giveout trails via Rosemont/SilverKing,” said McBurney.
“It is in keeping with phase 1, (meaning) green circle single track, useable in both directions, so accessible for a wide range of cyclists and hikers.”
The Regional District of Central Kootenay, in partnership with the Nelson Cycling Club, received approval on an application for funding from the Trans Canada Trail (federal government) to connect Morning Mountain trail to the Great Northern Trail, as part of Trans Canada Trail routing. Funding is approximately $62,700 for phase two of the project.
The project was a direct reflection of recommendations from the Nelson and District Recreation master plan, as well as the official community plans of areas E, F and G, said Nelson and District Recreation committee chair and Area E director Ramona Faust.
The Nelson Cycling Club is completing the work of trail extension in an area outside of RDCK’s license of occupation, so they received the grant, she said.
“It’s important to keep developing the area for recreation for Blewett and Bonnington residents, and people in the Nelson area in general,” Faust said.
“The partnership with the province and Nelson Cycling Club, and lately Trans Canada Trail, has allowed all of us to do more than we ever imagined and more than (Area F) director (Tom) Newell and I could do on our own.”
Faust noted that another addition is the collaboration among Nelson and District Recreation, Area G director Andy Davidoff and Castlegar Parks and Trails to put a bridge over Rover Creek.
“Combined with all other work, this will create a continuous trail opportunity from Castlegar to Nelson to Cottonwood,” she said.
Planning for the Morning Mountain trail route project and the work to build it has taken place over the last couple of years, said McBurney, while actual trail building commenced early October and went until snow came early November — a total of 1.5 km completed.
Just over 15 per cent of the grant went toward completing phase one, which was also funded by the Ministry of Environment, the RDCK, the Columbia Basin Trust, the Nelson Cycling Club and some small business donors. The remainder of the grant is earmarked for phase two.
The actual trail in phase two will go from the six kilometre mark to the nine kilometre mark on the Giveout Road.
“Though, because it is a sinuous line, it will be 4.7 km long,” said McBurney.
Work this fall included line layout, saw clearing, trail building with a mini excavator, and two people hand finishing the product — a total of four people involved in the project.
“More people were involved in the planning, grant process and permitting work behind the scenes,” said McBurney.
Phase one incorporated a lot of planning and permitting. The trail — built to IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) standards — ascends from the old Blewett Ski Hill base area to the Giveout Creek Forest Service Road, a total of 7.5 kilometres.
In addition to phase two of the Morning Mountain project, a new Downhill trail was built with an advanced jump line adjacent to phase one this year. It will be open for riding early next summer.
McBurney said the work on finishing phase two will begin in spring, along with the NCC’s regular work of maintaining existing trails and promoting biking (a bike swap in the spring, the Fat Tire Fest in summer, as well as group rides and events throughout the season).
The NCC maintains somewhere in the neighbourhood of over 200 kilometres of trail in and around the Nelson region.
Mountainside rink in Blewett on hold
There were a couple things that caused delay of the rink build planned for the old Blewett Ski Hill base, said McBurney, so the project will not go this winter.
“Hopefully it will happen next (year),” he said.
RDCK parks is behind the project in principle, and a local volunteer group will install and maintain it.
The rink was approved for the site up high on the former ski hill site, now used for mountain biking trails, earlier in the year.