This must be why they call it Riding Mountain
Riding Mountain National Park is a picturesque experience located on the western edge of Manitoba, featuring some of the only elevation within the province. Steeped in history (the park has the oldest original park gate entrance) and fantastic nature experiences , the park should be on the list of anyone interested in taking in the natural beauty of the area or the friendly atmosphere of Wasagaming, the town located in the park.
Riding Mountain got its name from the method by which most of the park was explored; on horseback. Some of the natural environment still reflects how the park was explored in it's early days, including small camps where locals would have stopped for the night. Now, while equestrian use in the park has diminished, a new type of riding has emerged as a great way to explore all the park has to offer: mountain biking.
With three thousand square km of area explore, you'd be hard pressed to visit all of the park by foot. Some of the parks activities also include car caravans, where guides take you to places likely to see wildlife from the comfort of your vehicle. Mountain Biking, though, will allow you to explore much more of the park than hiking, with a more intimate feel than in your car.
Parks staff are catering to riders too – they are currently working with volunteer group METS to build Reeve's Ravine, an 11km singletrack trail along the eastern escarpment of the park. Set to open next spring, the trail has fantastic views and descents, and is sure to attract locals and visitors on their bikes.
Our trail workshop on Saturday was held to help the park and other local trail builders gain some extra skills on designing trail, including how to make the most out of available experiences in the landscape. After the classroom session in the morning, Rachael and I headed out into the field to lead a design workshop, where participants used pin flags and inclinometers to get some experience designing sustainable singletrack.
The Riding Mountain visit has taught us that mountain biking can be much more than an experience or sport in and of itself; it can take you to awesome places and sights that you might not ever reach by car or foot, even if they aren't on traditional mountain bike trails. What park or wilderness is unexplored in your area?
Big thanks to Riding Mountain for hosting us in the awesome new Otentik, a great way to experience the great outdoors while leaving your tent at home! A totally recommended stay.