New signage up at Montane trails directs foot traffic away from certain trails. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

New signage up at Montane trails directs foot traffic away from certain trails. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

No foot traffic: Montane trails apply new rules to certain sections of network to support groomers

Foot traffic is now directed away from some sections of the network

Volunteer groomers responsible for the Montane trail network have put their foot down (so to speak) on post-holing, with new signs up on certain sections of the network laying down the law against foot traffic.

New signage installed last week now directs foot traffic away from a 4km section of trail network in the upper Montane trails, and according to volunteer trail manager Pat Gilmar, it’s not a suggestion but a rule.

“The trails were just getting stomped out too badly,” he said. “If we’re going to continue grooming … we had to put up signage.”

Gilmar is one of three volunteer groomers that groom the trail network on private lands in the Montane area.

According to Gilmar, volunteer groomers were discouraged by poor trail etiquette, with freshly-groomed trails being destroyed by walkers almost immediately after being groomed and at inappropriate times when conditions were not right for use. The cost was burned-out volunteers that didn’t return to continue grooming in following seasons.

Much of the system remains full multi-use, including the majority of lower Montane. Some 10km of trails are groomed for use by all users. Another 8km are set aside for only skiing (similar to the entirety of the Elk Valley Nordic Centre), and 4km are now designated as for fatbiking, snowshoeing and skiing.

“We’ve found that we can’t have all users on the same trails,” said Gilmar.

He said that while compliance tended to “pretty bad” when it came to users being mindful on groomed trails, he and other volunteers hoped that the new signage would empower users to know what the rules were, and pressure others to follow expectations.

“The users know the rules – if they see others not following the rules they can talk to them.”

“We hope it takes pressure off the groomers,” said Gilmar, who added that he didn’t want to have to be a policeman about the matter, but also didn’t want volunteers to feel their work was being wasted.

The Montane trail network is on private land owned by Parastone developments, which contributes the grooming equipment used to keep the network in shape over winter.

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Outdoors and Recreation