With the exception of a few, biking trails in Fernie’s Ridgemont area have officially reopened.
In August 2018, The Free Press reported that the popular trails network would be closed from mid-October 2018 through to April 2019 to allow for harvesting activities.
Nine months later in May it was announced that the trail network would remain closed for the summer season due to delays in logging.
Four months after this, the Fernie Trails Alliance (FTA) announced the reopening.
“The rumours are true, the following trails are now open in Ridgemont and those listed remain closed,” read a post by the Trails Alliance on Facebook. “Enjoy the ride and please respect the closures. Thank you to all our volunteers and the landowners for making this happen.”
Ridgemont trails now open include:
Kiddy Up, Kiddy Down, What’s Up Doc, Lower Eco-Terrorist, Eco-Terrorist, Queen V, Sidewinder, Brads Gay Trail, Deadfall, Broken Derailleur, Branch A Road, Space Unicorn, Coal Creek Heritage Trail and FloWrkr.
Trails still closed in the Ridgemont area include:
Faceshots, R-Trail, Deadfall Downhill, Oh Dear, Bridget Fun-duh, Ich Bin Sofa, Eric’s Trail (top-mid-bottom), Kids Stuff (top-bottom), Splitting Bears (bottom) and Hessian (bottom).
Fernie Trails Alliance board member Krista Turcasso says they’re excited to regain access to these trails, not only for the fall riding season but also for fatbiking in the winter.
“Especially for families, young kids, people who are beginning, it felt like a bit of a loss this summer,” she said. “It’s really difficult to take kids for a quick ride – Ridgemont was the best place for that.”
Turcasso explained that the loop now open did not require an extensive amount of restoration work, as these trails were the least affected by logging. However, she explained that what it did take was an assurance to the landowners that trail users would abide by this opening and obey closures still in place.
It was within the last week that these conversations were had, and the agreement was formed to reopen the loop. A work party in the days that followed prepped the trails for riding.
Turcasso explained that this marks stage one of the harvesting project, and that no more trails in this area will be reopened this year.
“That’s all we can do this year for the opening because of the additional work that’s needed,” she said.
She explained that in some areas there are about 150 stems left standing. She said the company wants these trees to settle over the winter and this, she explained, is one of the reasons why it’s important to stay off the trails that are closed.
“It can be very dangerous to be going in there and trying to clear trails when a lot of the trees might be falling on their own over time,” she said.
Come spring time, Turcasso said stage two and three of the harvesting project will begin.
Turcasso explained that the trails listed that are not open right now, including Eric Trail, Deadfall and others, are not permanently closed. However, most have been completely logged and will require restoration.
“Those trails are planned to reopen, but there may be changes to some trails because there is a permanent road that is now on the property,” she said.
Turcasso further explained that the landowner has emphasized their intent to reopen the Elk Valley Trail, and the FTA is currently working with them on a plan to make this happen.
As the land is privately owned, Turcasso said the FTA wants to continue to maintain their good relationship with the landowner.
“It’s very sensitive, and we want to have a good relationship with this landowner so we can have continued use,” she said.