Partnerships, trails, and sustainability at Jasper National Park

The iconic views and trails of Jasper National Park provided the TCC’s next visit with a stunning backdrop of beautiful mountain ranges that this area is known for.  With more than 100 kilometres of Official and Wildland mountain bike trails offered throughout the park, mountain biking is one of many recreational activities that visitors and locals enjoy throughout the season.

The IMBA Canada Trail Care Crew (TCC) was asked to come to Jasper NP to work with Parks staff and with local stewardship groups.  The visit focussed on supporting the collaborative work between Parks Canada, the Friends of Jasper National Park/Jasper Trail Alliance, the Jasper Park Cycling Association, the local bike shops, and the general MTB community.

The TCC hosted a Trail Building School (TBS) that focussed on sustainable trail design and construction techniques to 20+ people.  Beginning in the morning, Parks staff and representatives from the stakeholder groups, participated in the 3 hr in-class portion of the day, learning about sustainable trail building design, techniques, and construction.  These fundamentals were then applied during the afternoon on a portion of the “Fire Escape” trail that is part of the Parks Wildland trail network.  A reroute around a fall-line section of trail, which was showing signs of erosion and widening of the trail tread, was the site for the afternoon.  The stewardship groups, under the guidance of Parks Canada staff, had already begun to construct a bench cut trail alignment as part of the reroute, but the steep slopes along this section had challenged final placement of the trail.  The work session began by talking about the inclusion of an alternate option to a standard switchback turn along a portion of the trail due to the steep slideslope.  This turn was going to use a switchberm instead, a type of insloped turn that is unique to IMBA’s design and construction.  In comparison to the standard Rolling-Crown Switchback, Switchberm’s benefit from the following

  • Trail segment above the turn is a gentle grade, keeping speeds in check for descending riders (5%-8%).
  • Turn is on a nearly level platform and slightly bermed (insloped 6%-9%).
  • Climbing segment below the turn is short and steep (15%-20%, or just a bit more if you need to push it).
  • Diameter of the turn is between 4.5 m and 5.5 m depending on width of trail, sideslope and intended users.

More info can be found here: https://www.imba.com/blog/mark-eller/advanced-trail-building-introducing-switchberm

Photos courtesy of Jasper Trails Alliance and IMBA Canada

The afternoon’s trail build went very successfully, even with the very dry conditions that we had to contend with.  At the end of the day, approximately 50-60 m of bench cut singletrack was completed, alongside the installation of the new Switchberm.

We were also very lucky to have the local press on hand to showcase the efforts of the day – please follow the links below to see the coverage.

Title: Trails don't build themselves
Outlet: The Fitzhugh
Date: August 14, 2014
Source: https://www.fitzhugh.ca/trails-dont-build-themselves/

Title:  Off the beaten trail
Outlet: The Fitzhugh
Date: August 14, 2014
Source:  https://www.fitzhugh.ca/off-the-beaten-trail/

Thanks again to the Parks Canada Staff for making the visit such a success, and a very special thank you to all of the hard-working volunteers from the Jasper Trail Alliance, the Jasper Park Cycling Association, the local bike shop employees that took time off during their busy schedules, and to everyone from the community that were passionate and eager to help!

 

Jasper is truly a gem of Mountain Bike opportunities, and should be on your list of destinations for a future visit!