Photo by Aaron Jones
The Bighorn Trail will not just be made into one loop to the ridge and down, but will have three different downhill options.
Two are being cleared by West Fraser and professional trail builder Jay Hoots, while another downhill trail is being built by the Hinton Mountain Bike Association (HMBA) and contractor Nathan Froehler of Creating Flow Trail Designs.
HMBA raised funds to build a downhill trail starting part way up the Bighorn uphill trail.
“We opted for a flow trail. They have really good dirt out there and enough elevation and the right kind of grade planned out that will make for a fun roller coaster type trail,” said Froehler.
The 1.2 kilometre blue-rated flow trail will have an elevation of 100m with jumps and berms and is completely machine built with a mini excavator.
Many volunteers have helped out and community sponsors have donated tools, fuel, and offered great rates on machinery rentals.
“It’s been a real community effort. It’s been tough making things happen but people come together and make it work,” said Froehler.
Froehler was born and raised in Hinton and spent a lot of time building and maintaining trails in the area, including the Halloween Trail behind Hinton and at the Nordic Centre.
He explained that there are basically two mountain bike trails; tech trails and flow trails.
A flow trail is generally a smooth dirt surface, with not a lot of rocks or roots like a tech trail would have.
While it’s a bit of a climb to get up there, most people with a general fitness level can do it, Froehler said.
“It’s a really nice climb they’re building right now. Hoots is building that climb trail to the top of Bighorn, which is an average grade of five per cent or something so it’s quite a mellow climb but it will still take a bit of work,” Froehler said.
The blue downhill flow trail is great for intermediate mountain bikers but can be adaptable for many skill levels, including advanced riders, Froehler said.
Froehler’s downhill trail is expected to be finished by the end of the season and should be ready by the fall.
“It won’t be until the end of the season but we should be good to go,” Froehler said.
West Fraser finished the first downhill portion from the Bighorn ridge last year, including a small portion of the uphill trail.
The uphill portion is now halfway completed and West Fraser, who is funding that project, hopes to complete the uphill portion this year.
The uphill trail will be 11 kilometres to the Bighorn ridge, followed by the five-kilometre downhill trail.
The project includes a price tag of $500,000 and is being built by the nine member Vancouver-based Hoots Bike Parks crew.
The Hoots crew has also been busy with other projects throughout the summer, but are expected to be back at work in Hinton this season.
The few crew members working right now bike their way up to the worksite each day, but the public isn’t allowed on the trail quite yet.
With machinery and equipment left on the trail, Aaron Jones, management forester of West Fraser, explained that they have to be careful with the public going on unfinished trails and into active worksites.
Kiosks, signage, garbage cans, tables, and other finishing touches also still need to be put up.
Jones added that there could be a possible soft opening this year depending on whether any portions can be opened to the public.
West Fraser’s second downhill trail is slightly less technical than the original downhill trail.
This trail is expected to be finished by the end of this year and will provide a 10-kilometre loop, starting part way on the Bighorn uphill trail as well.
Other future plans by West Fraser include building a trail all along the Bighorn Ridge and connecting the epic Bighorn trail to town trails.
Jones explained that while there is a trail along the ridge, it’s not currently ideal for mountain biking.