Making history with the Short Hills Cycling Club

After an enormous build with the Hamilton Cycling Club we toured Niagara Falls and the Niagara College winery to relax before being welcomed by the Short Hills Cycling Club.

The Short Hills Cycling Club (SHCC) was officially formed in 2009 and they quickly began attracting riders from all over the Niagara region. Currently, the only legal riding in all of Niagara is in Short Hills Provincial Park and this is due to the efforts of the trail advocates in the SHCC. Short Hills Provincial Park is nestled between wineries and suburban neighborhoods and is heavily used by hikers, bird watchers, dog walkers, mountain bikers and equestrians. Some of the SHCC members have also joined the Friends of Short Hills so that mountain bikers would have a voice when it came time to make decisions about the future of trails in the park.

The soil in the park is entirely clay and the majority of trails run along the fall line. In addition, people use the trails regardless of conditions leading to serious problems. The area we were asked to work in consisted of a 100 meter long fall line section that finished with a 90 degree turn at the bottom of the hill. The only fix was a complete reroute and reclamation of the old tread.

Pending heavy rains forced a decision early in the week to do part of the build prior to our trail building school. We assembled the core group of builders and walked them through design, layout, building and reclamation projects. The day before our trail building school we headed out in the sunshine and built the first 50 meters of the reroute and reclaimed the old, badly eroded trail. It was the first time that mountain bikers had permission to build new trail within a provincial park in Ontario and this particular section of trail is one of the very few sections of the Bruce Trail that allows mountain bikers. Our finished singletrack and reclamation astounded the locals and, most importantly, the superintendent of the park. We checked back the following day in the torrential downpours and not only was the trail shedding water effectively, the reclamation was slowing the water down on the eroded hill.

We've left the SHCC with a little bit of homework but we feel confident that they will have continued success improving their trails and gaining support from the entire community who uses them.

We'd like to thanks our fantastic hosts Paul and Peggy for allowing us to dry our muddy boots in their home. Also, thanks to Tim and Tom for providing local knowledge (and schwag!) and all the volunteers who came out rain or shine to learn and help out.