WORCA’s concept for multi-use trail expansion in the Spearhead Area of Garibaldi Provincial Park

The following is an outline of WORCA’s conceptual vision for increased mountain biking access in the Spearhead Area of Garibaldi Provincial Park. This plan was developed by WORCA’s Trails subcommittee which is made up of individuals who have had a long standing relationship with WORCA and are of the most experienced trail builders and riders in the valley. The plan is intended as a preliminary concept to illustrate how WORCA believes cross-country mountain biking can be integrated into some of the alpine areas in Garibaldi Park in a manner that is consistent with BC Park’s conservation values and provides an extremely high value recreation experience with low impact on the Park’s sensitive landscape. WORCA recognizes that this plan is the first step in a potential multi-stage process that will require input from First Nations and other stakeholders in order to gain approval.

Overall Strategy

WORCA understands that there is tremendous pressure on Garibaldi Park’s existing hiking trails and that many parts of the park are unsuitable for mountain biking because of the popularity of hiking. Within the Spearhead Area of Garibaldi Provincial Park, the area of interest from a mountain biking access perspective is the Singing Pass/Musical Bumps Area. WORCA recommends that this is the only area that should be considered for increased mountain biking access. WORCA recommends the following four new connections be considered for mountain biking:

1. Whistler Village to Singing Pass – Potential one-way ascent up the existing trail or construction of a second parallel trail to separate descending riders from ascending hikers.

2. Singing Pass to Flute/WB CRA – Options to re-route existing trail in areas that are currently deteriorating to a multi-use standard or construct a new separate multi-use trail.

3. Singing Pass to Cheakamus Lake and existing multi-use trails – Potential new multi-use descent trail or separate biking trail that could also be used in the winter.

4. South Side of Cheakamus River to Riverside Trails (out of the Spearhead Study Area) – Existing trail to be reactivated and upgraded for multi-use.

Partnership with WORCA

WORCA would like to be recognized as an active partner with BC Parks for all issues relating to mountain biking in the Park. WORCA has a growing membership of almost 2,000 riders in 2012 and is the largest mountain biking association in Canada. WORCA has been managing and maintaining trails in the Whistler Valley for 25 years and as a result has acquired considerable knowledge and expertise on successful trail building and management techniques that have resulted in safe, low impact trails throughout the valley. WORCA would like to work with BC Parks on developing a sustainable management program for mountain biking in the Musical Bumps/Singing Pass area of Garibaldi Park that would showcase world-class multi-use trail design, management and construction techniques. The following are some examples of ways in which WORCA can contribute to the effort of increasing mountain biking access in Garibaldi Park:

1. Communication with riders – WORCA can help BC Parks communicate with mountain bikers about the impact and consequence of riding illegally on trails that aren’t designated for mountain biking in the Park.

2. Volunteer trail maintenance labour – WORCA organizes approximately 6-8 trail days over the course of the summer season that draw dozens of local volunteers willing to put in time maintaining trails. WORCA could direct several volunteer days towards trails within BC Parks to help with the maintenance of multi-use trails.

3. Expertise in multi-use trail design and construction – WORCA’s trail builders are extremely knowledgeable on best practices in low impact, multi-use planning and design. It cannot be overstated how important proper route design and construction is to the overall impact of the trail. If a trail is well designed, it will require very little maintenance over time and riders will have no interest in veering off the trail. Furthermore, design is imperative to safely and conflicts.

4. Revenue – WORCA earns revenue from events, membership fees and grants. Options for an add-on Park user fee can be explored or other ways in which WORCA can contribute to the additional cost of increasing multi-use trails in the Park.

Cross-country mountain biking user group

WORCA supports only Cross-country Mountain biking in the Park (not downhill biking). This user group has the objective of enjoying nature, experiencing the wilderness and is not seeking the same kind of adrenaline rush as bikers that choose shorter, steeper downhill trails. WORCA supports trail design in Garibaldi Park what would be constructed in a way that would offer a way in which riders could access the alpine environment and experience a long “epic” ride, but would not offer a steep, technical descent. In this way, rides in the Park would only appeal to those looking to access the wilderness for the same objective that a hiker might have. The intention is that the park be respected as a mountain biking destination where wilderness and conservation values are prioritized over thrills and intense technical challenges.

Design Strategies

Many design strategies are implemented in the process of creating safe, enjoyable, low impact multi-use trails. Some examples are:

  1. Signage notifying hikers that they may encounter bikes on a multi-use trail
  2. Communication and education with bikers on multi-use and environmental trail etiquette, right of way, proper communication with hikers
  3. Implementing IMBA standards and proper trail construction

WORCA believes that cross-country mountain biking access can be provided in Garibaldi Park in a manner that is consistent with existing activities and provides a world-class, low impact recreation resource and high quality access to Park resources.

The original management plan for Garibaldi Provincial Park was approved in 1990. In February 2014 BC Parks approved a management plan amendment to provide more specific management direction to the Spearhead area of the park, WORCA provided input in the consultation process. To view the management plan and amendment for Garibaldi Provincial Park visit the BC Parks website.