By the blank stares we received when we used the term ‘TLC’ in our Trail Building School presentation, we now know that the phrase TLC doesn’t translate well into French.

But sometimes that’s exactly what a trail needs (tender loving care).

We all love to dream up ideas for a new trail, or a new line off some cool rock feature – well at least us geeks at IMBA do – but sometimes you need to spend some time giving new life to a tired old trail. And, yes, even sustainably-built trails need some maintenance.

This week we visited staff in La Mauricie National Park to talk trails and perform maintenance on a 20-year-old hiking trail. With a new audio interpretative tool which uses GPS coordinates to give info to visitors via headphones, the Lac-Gabet trail has had a substantial increase in visitors.

Alongside various Parks staff and IMBA QC Coordinator Eric Leonard, AJ and I reclaimed a number of sections of muddy and widened-trail and also added numerous knicks and rolling grade dips to enhance drainage. Staff also removed aprox. thirty 2×6 lengths of wood which lined the trail (once installed perhaps to keep users on the trail) but many years later only collected debris and kept water on the trail.

Located two-and-a-half hours outside of Montreal in the Laurentian mountain range, La Maurice is very popular for road riding in the summer and XC skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. In fact, we were lucky enough to stay in the 100-year-old Andrew Lodge, with a beautiful view of Lac a la Peche, which is generally only accessible by hiking or skiing.

Thanks to Parks Canada staff for a great week, which felt more like a vacation than work!