Parks Canada releases National Activity Guidelines for mountain biking

For Immediate Release: 09-22-10
Contact: Rachael Raven
IMBA Canada Communications Coordinator
rachael [dot] raven [at] imba [dot] com

Earlier this month, Parks Canada released new mountain biking guidelines for National Parks, National Historic Sites, and National Marine Conservation Areas -- Expanding the agency’s offer to include technical trail features and bike parks.

The new guidelines will replace the dated 1987 Management Directive on Backcountry Trail Bicycling, created at a time when mountain biking was still a relatively new activity.

Increasing popularity and demand for mountain biking led Parks Canada to include the activity in its new recreational activity assessment process earlier this year. The assessment aimed to better define national guidelines on cross-country mountain biking, and to understand other forms of the discipline (ie: downhilling, freeriding, bike parks). Other activities assessed included traction kiting, aerial parks, community gardens and hangliding.

According to the guidelines, cross country will still be the principal form of mountain biking offered by Parks Canada; however, national direction is given to help outline where more technical forms of the activity may be offered. Downhill-specific mountain bike trails will not be offered due to visitor safety concerns and potential wildlife conflicts.

“That Parks Canada is expanding its opportunities for mountain biking is excellent news,” said Lora Woolner, executive director of IMBA Canada. "A number of our IMBA Canada affiliated clubs already have a strong relationship with their local parks sites, and these new mountain bike guidelines open the door for more clubs to do the same."

Now that the national guidelines are published, individual parks will have the opportunity to conduct local assessments for mountain biking. Local assessments take into account the local opportunities and concerns, and lead to the development of park-specific direction and visitor activity guidelines.

IMBA Canada encourages IMBA-affiliated mountain bike clubs to actively seek partnership with their local Parks Canada site to discuss trails-related opportunities.

View the Parks Canada Mountain Biking Guidelines and read about other activities that were assessed in this process. For more information, contact: info [at] pc [dot] gc [dot] ca

Mountain Biking at Parks Canada Locations

Mountain biking is an activity that is practiced in close to 50% of Canada’s national parks. The activity is also practiced in some national historic sites, such as the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site of Canada. Canada’s National Parks currently have a total of 6,624km of trail (front country and back country). A total of 120 trails or 1,485km are currently open to mountain biking.

More about IMBA Canada and Parks Canada

The Canadian office of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA Canada) has a memorandum of understanding with Parks Canada, the government agency responsible for managing Canada’s National Parks, National Historic Sites, and National Marine Conservation Areas.

Parks Canada is also a supporter of the IMBA Canada Trail Care Crew program -- A dynamic two-person team of trailbuilders, educators and enablers that teach sustainable trailbuilding practices from coast to coast.

Photo courtesy of Parks Canada