Creating a true mountain bike destination takes more than just great trails. It takes dedicated club and group of riders, hard work, time and buy-in from the local community. This could not be truer than in Hinton, Alberta.

Hinton was our first stop in the fall leg of the 2015 Trail Care Crew season and a great example of a local club, the Hinton Mountain Bike Association (HMBA), and local community coming together to create a true mountain bike destination. From the second you start to arrive in the area you are greeted with signs on the highway telling you where the Hinton Bike Park is, I knew once I saw those that this was going to be a very special visit!

At IMBA, we talk about some key things that communities need to do in order to make it a true mountain bike destination. Everything from providing a truly diverse user experience to ensuring local businesses are on board and supporting the sport and trails in the area. The HMBA has done a fantastic job in ensuring that Hinton is a mountain bike destination. The second you pull up at the park and take a look at the trail map the corporate sponsorships and buy-in from the community are very evident as companies like Boston Pizza, Royal Bank and EnCana Energy are listed. That is only a small fraction of the more than 50 community and corporate sponsors that support the HMBA and trails in the area. Even at the hotel where I stayed, the only thing posted on the bulletin board in the lobby is the Hinton Bike Park and area trails map!

As for the user experience, the Hinton Bike Park is the central hub for all the riding in the area. Dedicated in 2009, the Jay Hoots designed and Hoots Inc. built park has something for everyone; with a skills area, jump progressions, as well as flow and freeride style trails in the park itself. Connecting with the park are over 40km of singletrack built primarily by locals that offer everything from technical XC to sweeping all-mountain riding. For my visit, we were able to work on a major conflict section of trail that encompassed a fall-line climb/descent, and a major intersection on a trail that was not getting the desired use it was intended for as riders were just riding right by. Working with the HMBA, we were able to close off, reclaim the section of fall-line trail, and build a nice sweeping climbing turn that was much more sustainable, more accessible to beginner riders and lined riders up perfectly with the trail they were all riding by.

My visit to Hinton was very successful as we were not only able to help improve the amazing network of trails, but the Trail Building School was very well attended with HMBA members and city staff as well. All were able to take away a lot from the workshop and use that information to continue to grow the amazing trails in the area. I would like to thank the HMBA for having me and the HMBA and entire community of Hinton for their amazing hospitality during my visit!

If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend checking out Hinton for a true mountain bike community experience and I look forward to being able to come back and work in the area again!

For a link to the photos from my visit in Hinton with the HMBA click here.

-Justin Truelove