Trail re-route an opportunity for excellence
One of Jasper’s most popular trails is undergoing a radical transformation.
Water Tower, which starts high on the Pyramid Bench, descends a steep staircase of rocky ruts, twists and turns through an ancient forest before opening up into a grassy hummock above Cottonwood Slough, is undergoing a makeover.
“It’s not your straight-down pinner anymore,” trails volunteer Cam Vos said in between raking rocks and mashing mosquitos on Wednesday, August 12.
Up until two weeks previous, the bottom part of the multi-use trail was indeed a “straight-down pinner.” Riders plunged precariously into the intersection of trails 6 and 6a—an area frequented by horse riders for its close proximity to Jasper Park Riding Stables. Eventually, a July 8 accident involving a cyclist and four high school students on horseback prompted the Jasper Trail Alliance to reconfigure the trail with the aim of reducing the chance of future conflicts.
“We need to slow people down,” said JTA member Viet Tieu.
But besides addressing safety concerns, the re-route is also an opportunity to create something new. Enter certified trail builder Darren Langley. In 2010, Langley learned how to create sustainable, multi-use trails at Capilano University in Sechelt, B.C. Now, with the blessing of Parks Canada, Langley’s been helping the JTA incorporate berms, banks and other modern trail features into the new section of trail.
“If you’re getting rid of one part of the trail the new part should be more fun,” Langley figured.
Today, what used to be bush and brambles is a buffed track with rock rolls, whoop-de-doos and gaps—should a cyclist so choose to ride them.
“Where else to you see a trail like this in Jasper?” said Keith Libech, who has been a volunteer group leader all summer. “Times are changing.”
The dozen or so recruits that the JTA has been attracting every Wednesday night seem to agree. From nine-year-old Seth Johannsson to recently-retired Lloyd Sommers, the consensus was that the raking, the digging, the scraping and the sculpting was already worth it.
“I want to make cycling in Jasper better,” said 15-year-old Sam Howe. “I might as well do something about it.”