As you drive into Hinton, Alberta there are signs along the highway directing you to their mountain bike park and town trails. We blogged about the bike park last year as we made our way out of Jasper National Park. The bike park was built about 3 years ago by builder Jay Hoots and is a definite asset to the town. While they are proud of the park they realize that their cross country trails are not quite up to the same standard. They looked to IMBA for guidance to make the trails more appealing for the locals and to draw more tourists.

We arrived on a sunny Thursday afternoon and, after a quick meeting with our Hinton Mountain Bike Association (HMBA) host, we were armed with maps and we hopped on our bikes to check out the trails. We rode all of Jack’s Trails located on the east side of town. These trails were built in the late 80’s by a local who’s yard backed onto the untouched wilderness. Now the trail system is riddled with quad trails, logging roads and cut blocks. We were able to identify our project pretty quickly and, luckily for our volunteers, it was located right at the trailhead.

Friday we set out in the morning to lay out our project for the volunteer build. Once we were happy with the flag line we took some time to prepare the trail corridor and create a benchcut template for the volunteers to see. After our work was completed we had just enough time to ride the trails on the west side of town.

Friday evening we hosted a club care workshop to help the HMBA come up with ideas for recruiting, engaging and retaining volunteers. After a solid two hour brainstorming session they had more of a plan and their enthusiasm was restored.

On Saturday morning we headed into the classroom for our presentation on the theory behind sustainable trail design and building. The group engaged us with questions and conversation and after a quick lunch everyone was eager to head out and put these theories into practice.

We were blessed with blue skies all day and the volunteers definitely appreciated it. After some quick instructions we all picked up tools and started digging. The trail took shape quickly and we had extra time to shape and perfect the trail tread. As a reward everyone got the chance to hop on our Trek bikes to test ride the new line.

Sunday morning we met with the club for a ride. We spent over three hours playing around in the bike park and never made it out to the other trails. As soon as we packed up the bikes and headed back to the hotel the clouds rolled in and it started raining.

We had the unique opportunity to work and ride alongside our friend and Norco Factory Team rider Jay Hoots. To be able to connect with other professionals helps us grow as builders and we appreciate the insight Jay has provided us. We were hosted at the Lakeview Inn and Suites, the best place to stay in town if you are a mountain biker. The room was spacious and comfortable. They accommodated us in every way and are located less than a five minute ride from Jack’s Trails. Thank you to Subway & Tim Hortons for fuelling the volunteers. Best of luck to the HMBA this summer with all your events!