This past week, I was fortunate to head out to Jasper National Park and work with the Park’s trail crew, the Jasper Park Cycling Association (JPCA) and the Jasper Trails Alliance (JTA) and lead an Advanced Trails Training workshop over the week. Here’s a breakdown of what happened.


Jasper has always been a long-standing visit on the IMBA calendar with us visiting for the last 8 years in some capacity. This year was no different with an early stop at the park to train the new trail crew members and work on some long-term solutions to some significant trail problems. This visit was a little different in that the JPCA and JTA were invited by the park to take place so that all work being done to trails, whether by the trail crew or outside volunteers, would all be done to the same high standards.


With a large group of returning staff that had great training and experience from last summer I knew that the week ahead would be very successful and a lot of fun. The new team members brought on board all have great experience and bring some fantastic expertise to the unit. From detailed forestry and lumberjacking experience, to previous guiding and trail crew work the new additions were eager to learn and the JPCA and JTA group were well attended and just as eager to hit the trails and get some great work accomplished!


The workshop was broken down into a few different components with the in-class attended by everyone and then the participants splitting into smaller crews to tackle the work ahead. The volunteer participants were off to the races right away in the field and tackled a number of projects along the Watertower trail. Led by Loni, their energy and passion was on full display as they handled a few small reroutes, trail improvements and a great new log over TTF that was added. With many in the group never having worked on trails before, they provided excellent work and great additions to an already great trail experience. The park Trail Crew had the heavy work ahead with everyone taking part in a small machine workshop on the first field afternoon. This was great to come up with a game plan for the projects ahead while getting everyone some machine time and improving the already very competent skills on display. 


Trail 6

Trail 6 was a main focus of the workshop and it is a highly popular multi-use trail that sees lots of local activity as well as a high level of commercial horse traffic. Over time with all the horse traffic, the trail has seen some degradation and damage so it was the hope of the Parks team to provide some great high quality long-term solutions to some problems. With many of the problems being in low lying wet areas that are seeing major ruts forming, it was decided that providing am armoured raised tread trail experience would be great to improve the tread surface while offering a more enjoyable experience for all users.

The machine crew hit the project hard and by the lunch on the second day had finished a fantastic 10metre section of raised armoured tread with great landscaping to finish it off. With a little bit of skepticism (as most of us aren’t active horse users) we watched as a local horse guide walked the animal across with confidence and to great reviews from her to a solution that will work well for her and her animals. With that great news in hand, the team continued the project and finished the workshop having completed 25metres total with great tread and fantastic landscaping that will stand the test of time.


Trail 8

Trail 8 is a highly used hiking and MTB trail with the locals and had some small drainage issues that the hand crew tackled on day 2. With more than enough local rock around, the team was able to create an armoured knick to allow users to stay high and dry over some pooling water from a local spring. Some other armouring techniques were used on the nearby fall-line section of trail to help harden the surface and minimize erosion taking place.


Trail 3

Trail 3 is a popular multi-use trail frequented constantly by locals and used by many visitors to get access to the Pyramid Bench network of trails. This section of trail has been looked at many times over the years and with low-lying areas with many drainage pools a long-term solution has always been hard to find. With newfound confidence the hand crew tackled this project on day 3 and had phenomenal results.


Presented with two large pools on the trail and running water along the tread itself this task took a few different solutions. The original plan being to raise and armour the entire thing, but we quickly found out that we were creating more work as we found more and faster flowing water. Rather than try to eliminate the water on the trail, we utilized the sections of trail that were high and dry and allowed the water to flow to the side in an armoured trench. This along with some raised tread sections allow for the users to stay high and dry out of the water and allows the water to flow beside the trail which adds to the natural experience. Some beautifully sourced local dirt allowed to finish it all off with a fresh brown ribbon of trail that the local were already praising before the day was done!


All in all it was a very successful visit with great work and ideas coming from all participants on all sides. I am left very excited knowing that the team on trail crew and the local volunteers have great knowledge and ambition to tackle and accomplish some truly great projects this summer and beyond! I would like to thank Marci, Loni, Emma and my hosts and team at Jasper National Park as well as the team from Jasper Trails Alliance and the Jasper Park Cycling Association. It was great to work alongside everyone and I can’t wait for my next trip to Jasper!


To see photo progress of the trail work completed and other photos from the visit to Jasper NP click here!


-Justin Truelove