The melting of snow and warmer temps means the start of another great season on the bike and in the field at IMBA Canada. One of our first visits of 2017 had us presenting at Trailhead North 2017 and working with Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area (LSNMCA) where they are creating some truly great cycling opportunities.


Trailhead North


Trailhead North 2017 took place in Nipigon, ON for its third annual installment and featured a wide range of topics all designed at galvanizing the trail community in Northern Ontario and help them become a larger, stronger and more cohesive voice with great common vision. The conference was well attended with representation from all Northern Communities and their EDO’s, Parks Canada, Lakehead University, First Nations Communities, the Ontario Government as well as the Ontario Trail Council (OTC), the hosts and IMBA Canada.


A diverse range of topics were covered from trail classification and signage to provincial funding and liability for clubs and communities where trails are located. I was on hand to present and talk about Winter Trails and Fat Biking and the growth and management of that segment of our sport. With over 3 feet of snow fall happening during the conference little did we know that the winter trails were here to stay a little while longer. With all the snow and fantastic terrain that the North Shore of Superior sees it was very evident why Winter Trails and Fat Biking had participants talking long after my presentation ended.


Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area Trail Partners Program


The crux of the visit up north had me working with LSNMCA and their new Trails Coordinator as part of our newly created Trail Partners Program (TPP) with Parks Canada. The TPP was created to have IMBA Canada Field Staff work closely with select Parks Canada sites annually to look at their current mountain bike and trail offer and see how we may help them to become a mountain bike destination. Things like winter trail potential, fat biking opportunities, outreach to local clubs and partners are all looked at with each visit with a major focus on determining each locations Signature Trail. The Signature Trail will be unveiled at a later date as part of the revitalization of the Signature Series Rides Program, which will put each Park site chosen on the map as a great mountain bike destination.


With no physical trail on the ground that they manage, the NMCA is a unique Parks Canada site that works very closely with the small communities within its boundaries to help them create the visitor experience offers and trails that they want. Working with their new Trail Coordinator, we were able to assess and look at many great opportunities that already exist for cycling, while also coming up with some great short, medium and long range goals to help increase their cycling offer.

The winter weather, was not ideal, but allowed some great discussion and planning for next years winter tails and fat biking opportunities. With many small islands in close proximity to the shore and communities and cold temperatures freezing the lake, the park is looking at some truly unique potential for fat biking experiences. Some great local builders are also currently working on some fantastic projects that will be very well placed to potentially become this locations Signature Trail as well. This visit was a great first step for the program and the park to enable them to have the things in place before a future visit looks at determining the Signature Trail and unveiling it as part of the revitalized Signature Series Rides.


I would like to thank the great staff and crew up at Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area for their fantastic northern hospitality! I would also like to thank Patrick Connor and the OTC for having me as part of Trailhead North 2017. Stay tuned to find out when the Signature Trail will be announced!


To see photos from my visit at LSNMCA/Trailhead North click here!


-Justin Truelove