Runoff, erosion and high water all make for treacherous trails

High water levels have dramatically altered the terrain of the Kootenay Columbia Trails Society, so exercise caution while using the trails.

The realities of spring runoff could jilt cyclists who have a need for speed.

High water levels have dramatically altered the terrain of the Kootenay Columbia Trails Society (KCTS) and the society has asked the community to practice safety while using the trails this season.

Trails in the area have been significantly alffected by the heavy spring runoff, creating all sorts of new risks for outdoor enthusiasts, said Isaac Saban, president of KCTS.

“I think the biggest concern is for mountain bikers traveling down at high speed, even if there’s a certain speed that they’re used to traveling at, they may not have been on the trails this year,” explained Saban. “You could come up to a trail very quickly and it will be far rougher or have more debris than there used to be.”

Saban went on to explain that it’s important to learn about the terrain before rushing back into extreme sports this season, at least until the trails have been repaired.

“They’ve all been affected to some degree, but only five or six were really heavily impacted,” he said. “I would hope that by the end of the trail season, we will have most of them rebuilt and back in order, but it could be mid-September by the time we get to all of the trails.”

Water is part of the issue, but it also comes down to crew availability.

The KCTS has a crew of four people who are out working on repairing the trails everyday. In addition, the trails manager, Stewart Spooner, will be spending some time on the ground as well.

“They’ll be out there with hand tools doing their best to repair the tread,” Saban explained. “Hopefully, we can improve some of the drainage issues so that similar problems won’t occur in the future.”

The crew is currently working on the North End of the Seven Summits trail and will repair Crown Point, near the South side of Trail Creek, and  Raven’s Rock, a trail leading from the hospital to Miral Heights, when the water levels decrease. Routine maintenance will also take place throughout the course of the season.

The society maintains 145 kilometres of non-motorized trails around the area from Fruitvale, Montrose, throughout Trail and into Warfield and Rossland.

In the last year there were 120,000 trail usages, with $85,000 in funding from local government, and through membership money, donations and other fund raising initiatives they have a budget of nearly $100,000.

The society’s site now includes elevation profiles of the trails, detailed topographic maps in pdf form, uploaded pictures of trail features and a brief set of directions to get to the trail head.

For more information on crew reports, visit kcts.ca