Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC) has recently started construction on a new section of trail in the Bella Coola Valley, a 1.7 kilometer loop that hooks into the already established “Hagensborg Loop Trail” and heads east towards Nooklikonnik Creek, as of press time it was half-way complete.
It’s known as the “Schoolhouse X-Country One Trail” for now, but the hope is to re-name it through a community consultation process in the near future.
This area was identified as a top priority in the Bella Coola Valley Mountain Bike Trails Master Plan due to its location, high use, and accessibility. The trail will be a multi-use trail and open to hikers and runners, however this new section of trail will be focused on non-motorized recreation and has been built with a mountain bike focus.
“This is a great location to start the work because it is so accessible,” said Kerry Phillips, Resource Technician with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operations and Rural Development. “It’s an easy trail that is great for beginners, but it also has sections that more experienced bikers will appreciate. Once it’s completed it will give us a centrally located, easily accessible trail that joins into the already established Hagensborg Loop trail.”
Thomas Schoen, an experienced consultant from Williams Lake, with support from local community groups completed a Mountain Bike Trail Master Plan for the Bella Coola Valley this year. The plan proposes a series of mountain bike trail areas using existing and new trails that will help develop the Valley as a mountain bike destination, as well as promote the sport within the local community.
Over three dozen existing trails within three networks were identified as viable for expansion with varying degrees of difficulty, these include Medby Rock (East Nusatsum), Schoolhouse Falls and Hagensborg Loop Trail.
“Some of future trails will be steeper, mountain bike only trails,” Phillips explained. “However, the majority are designed to accommodate both hikers and bikers.”
Funding for this project is being provided by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC) who are responsible for expanding and maintaining recreation sites and trails in B.C. The Bella Coola Trails Alliance, made up of local volunteers, has been working closely with RSTBC through a partnership agreement to maintain the current recreation sites and trails here in the Valley.
Expert trail builder Andreas Thoni from Valemount, B.C., has been onsite since the beginning of October with his machine laying out the route. He’s being assisted by the trail building crew from Totem Sawmills, who are refining the trail as he moves along.
“The Totem Sawmills trail building crew is working alongside Andreas, which is great because now we’ll have more local capacity for future projects,” Phillips explained. “All the trails will be built to the International Mountain Biking Association and Whistler Trail standards.”
Phillips said that the main impetus for the trail building is to involve the local community in a positive and meaningful way.
“It’s really about engaging the community, the stakeholders, and promoting healthy living and sport for our locals, especially our youth,” she explained. “We want to ensure these trails are accessible and able to be enjoyed by all members of our community.”
For more information you can check out updates on Bella Coola Valley Trails Alliance Facebook page.