The South March Highlands is a protected area in the City of Kanata, Ontario. Members of the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association (OMBA) are the stewards of this land where we found some of the most fun and challenging trails we’ve ridden all year. It’s rare to find this much rocky, technical singletrack right inside an urban area and OMBA is playing a major role in protecting it from the clutches of developers.

Our initial tour of the trail network took place in the pouring rain. This can actually be the best time to evaluate a trail to determine how well it handles water. Without much elevation change to speak of, and with marshes and beaver ponds littering the landscape the potential for an all out mud fest was huge. What the builders of OMBA have done to avoid that involves all kinds of rock work, from stone pitching to culverts.

Since the local builders were already practiced at repairing wet and worn areas of adopted legacy trail, we decided to take on a reroute to provide them with a new tool. There is no benchcut trail in South March Highlands so this is what we chose to do. In rocky terrain like we were working in, benchcutting becomes more difficult, but we found that by digging test holes we were able to find a corridor that allowed us to a manipulate the soil into a beautiful ribbon of tread winding through the forest.

Our group ride the next day was a hit with 18 people present. By the end of the ride that number dwindled to 6 but we covered the entire trail network! Aside from a sprained wrist, we had a fantastic day and can’t wait to return to ride it all again and to revisit our gracious host, John O’Dea.