Trail builders and maintainers in Elkford and Sparwood will be busy this season with new trail projects in the works for both towns.
In Elkford, work is set to begin on Friday (Apr. 29) to create a southern portion for the Lost Lake Loop trail network, according to Colin Standish with the Elkford Trails Alliance (ETA).
The northern portion of the trail, which stretches 4 kilometres, was completed last fall, and was the first trail of the ETA.
“This will be another trail on the south portion of that… creating the ability for a loop up in that area,” Standish said.
The southern portion will run about 4.2 kilometres. They plan to have 4, 6 and 8 kilometre options.
The ETA has invited volunteers out over the weekend to help with clearing efforts as the work begins.
In the beginning of July, Fernie trail-building company Backcountry Trail Experts will pick up the work, which Standish expects to be done by the end of July.
The project cost is around $75,000, with $60,000 coming from the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT). Several other local sponsors are contributing to the project as well.
The Lost Lake Loop will be the ETA’s main focus for the season, with some trail maintenance as well throughout the year. They will also be working on upgrades to their storage seacan at the Wapiti ski hill, which should finish up by the end of August.
Trail conditions around Elkford as of Apr. 28 were generally unfavourable.
“We’re in that terrible snow phase right now. Just kind of rotted out and rough,” he said.
“A couple weeks ago we were fat bike ride-able but now we’re kind of stuck in between.”
As for Sparwood, a new 2.9 kilometre single track flow trail is planned for the season, according to Sparwood Trails Alliance (STA) director, Calvin Domin.
The trail does not yet have a name, but that will be decided at a May 17 AGM.
“It’s going to be a new flow track off the Trans Canada Trail and connecting to a trail known locally as the Grunt,” Domin said.
The trail will cost between $45,000 and $50,000, and the main funder is also the CBT.
Building is planned to begin in June, but the date is not hammered down yet. Backcountry Trail Experts will be carrying out the job.
They hope to have a grand opening once the work is complete (depending on COVID restrictions).
Once trails dry and firm up, they will start up their maintenance program, Domin said.
Trails in the Sparwood area are “still very soft,” he said, with a lot still holding a mix of snow and mud.
“I think at this point, the best practice is to try and avoid the trails, especially if they’re soft,” he said, adding that it creates a lot more spring maintenance if people use them in their current condition.
“We’re just waiting for a little bit of heat — a little bit more spring weather.”
Standish said: “Looking forward to see everybody getting out there.”