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Wheels in motion for new Canmore mountain bike trail

3.5 km adaptive trail is in the works.
Dale Mulligan rides off a drop in Canmore at the Benchlands Drop Zone in September 2023. MATTHEW THOMPSON RMO PHOTO

CANMORE – A new mountain bike track in Canmore is being planned that will not only connect two notable trails, but will also be one of the only adaptive lines in one of the top riding locations in Alberta.

The planned 3.5-kilometre single track, which was discussed during the Canmore and Area Mountain Bike Association’s (CAMBA) annual general meeting this month, will attach Loki’s new starting point to the western access of Highline Trail.

A major tipping point to bring the trail to fruition is connecting the entire trail community by designing it for accessible or adaptive users and beginner-level riders.

“We’re hoping to have that built to Kootenay Adaptive trial standards,” said Laura Quelch, executive director at CAMBA.

“I think having something that is truly adaptive and put together that way is an exciting option.”

Adaptive mountain biking paths are typically designed for riders who cannot use a standard mountain bike and require adaptive equipment for those living with physical and cognitive disabilities.

Canmore-based Rocky Mountain Adaptive’s executive director Jamie McCulloch said the proposed trail is a great step in helping local outdoor environments and recreational activities become more accessible to individuals who live with disabilities, but also for the whole community. 

“We hear great feedback from other areas across B.C. that have invested in building adaptive biking trails, with these trails becoming the most popular in their networks, and are enjoyed by families, kids, seniors, and people looking for great fun times on the trails,” said McCulloch in an email.

Located in the southeastern part of town, the new trail was approved in principle by AltaLink, Alberta Parks, Three Sisters Mountain Village and the Town of Canmore.

It’s still in the planning stages, however, Quelch said the new trail will be fun and flowy and will challenge inexperienced riders to continue progression.

“That should be [built] over the next few years ... We’re just in the planning phases and getting funding for that,” said Quelch. 

CAMBA, which builds and maintains trails and advocates for the trail community, also sits on an advisory group for Canmore and area trail strategies. It is in the process of developing a trails master plan that ensures recreation and conservation are balanced. 

“It’s a guide for development and management of trails and how to look at protecting wildlife connectivity and ecosystem function and how that all interplays,” said Qulech.

Elsewhere, CAMBA has a few active projects that are expected to wrap up this year, which include a few rebuilds and touch-ups of Canmore Nordic Centre trails.

The Soft Yoghurt rebuild is a “top priority” that is expected to be completed in June, while course improvements for the upcoming Canada Cup races are also in the works.

“I am very pleased with how CAMBA has helped us over the past couple years,” said Ron Sadesky, president of the Alberta Mountain Bike Race Association, the group which is putting on the Canada Cup races. “Last year, they built a popular new feature called the Gargoyle as part of our short track event. This year we have put together a short list of trail areas that require upgrading and they are prioritizing that for when the snow melts to make sure the course is ready for us.”

The 2024 Canada Cup in Canmore is from June 12-13, 15.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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