Ready to Roll

Our second trail party was a resounding success. Approximately 15 volunteers spent the afternoon of June 2nd putting the finishing touches on the bottom section of the Cancourse’s first all-new trail, and it turned out so well that your reporter is still giddy with excitement days later. To recap, we started designing this trail in April, and we started moving dirt by machine and by hand in early May. Throughout May we benched the trail, and on June 2nd volunteers transformed the foundation into a finished trail that now needs use and rain to solidify the dirt. Following are pictures from the trail work party with extended captions that explain various facets of the work we did. Note that full resolution is accessible by clicking on the images.

First switchback

Two of the switchbacks are especially rocky, including the bottom one. Here Mike, Cadel, and Drew worked to create a well shaped base, with the expectation that we would later haul dirt in to cover the base and lock it in place. However, there turned out to be an easier way, mentioned below. Mike and Drew moved on to the upper rocky switchback (not pictured) and with additional help built up the lower part of the switchback with large rocks to even out the grade. They transformed what looked like a hopelessly technical switchback into something that is unremarkable unless you know what went into building it.


We smoothed the trail surface to cover excavator ruts, shape undulations, and make sure that the trail slopes outward, all so that the trail drains without building up significant water in any one place.

More smoothing

More smoothing work. Here you can see the outer berm left by the excavator has not yet been completely removed.

Triple turn

This triple turn is one of three trail sections that passes through a well shaded gully (even during peak runoff, water dives below ground above these crossings). Each is unique and adds an interesting minor challenge.

Ready to roll

Ready to roll!

Raw trench

The bottom part of the trail is on an existing wide 10%-grade excavation. We created a meandering path to reduce the effective grade, but we also needed to design for drainage. This hastily excavated raw trench is what volunteers started with, but they quickly made it visually appealing and fun to ride (see first ascent picture below).

First ascent

As the work wound down, several people hopped on their bikes and tested the trail. This image captures the first-ever riding ascent. The riders found the trail to be quite rideable, and the switchbacks will become easier to navigate as the dirt packs. Compare the trail surface to that shown in the raw trench image above. John (in foreground) applied expert raking skills to the lower part of the trail to transform a very rocky surface into smooth dirt. This image was taken before he made a second pass with a leaf rake, and the surface looks even better now.

First descent

Of course we rode down the trail after riding up it. The trail is designed primarily for climbing; the 5% average grade, undulations, and lack of berms are meant for comfortable ascent, and they do not encourage fast descent. That said, riding down the trail is fun, if not fast.

Happy rider

Garret sure looks like a happy rider here. May this trail bring smiles to many other hikers’ and bikers’ faces!

We will gather for our third work party on June 30th from 9am-12pm (see calendar event for details). Keep an eye out for further details as the date nears. We’re in a race with the impending dry season, hoping to get this trail built while conditions allow!