Wasagaming, MB and Riding Mountain National Park was our Trail Care Crew visit this past weekend. As much as we were in a national park setting, we were not working with the park staff but the local club, the Dead Ox Trail Blazers, who have trail access to parklands.

The Dead Ox Trail Blazers represent a unique club that took advantage of opportunities around them, especially given that they are in a rural part of Manitoba; and were formed when the local mountain bike club collaborated up with the local hiking club. Recognizing that both clubs and members wanted trail access and great trail experiences, they banded together to create a larger voice with a common goal and vision. The club is well represented with members in the area surrounding Riding Mountain National Park; including McReary, Brandon, Neepawa and others. Given that the club is all spread out, they worked to create a trail vision for a network that not only they could enjoy in their own backyard but others as well. What resulted was access to Riding Mountain National Park lands to create the Reeve’s Ravine trail network located at the historic East Gate of the park grounds. Working with other organizations including the Manitoba Escarpment Trails Society and Parks Canada staff, the club has been able to create just over 12km of intermediate singletrack offerings, which all culminate in a great overall loop. The network joins up with the existing trails from the North Escarpment network which together offer over 25 total km of trails.

This visit was particularly unique as I was able to offer our Benefits of Trails Presentation to the public, which is typically reserved for our Parks Canada visits. It was great to have members of the Park management team, who also happen to be Dead Ox members, as well as representatives from both Brandon and Dauphin Tourism as well. This showed that trails and creating great trail experiences are already being discussed at local levels and through continued work, there will be great trail offerings around the area. The greater vision of the Dead Ox Trail Blazers has the development of a beginner trail loop in Reeve’s Ravine as well as an advanced flow trail utilizing the amazing contours available. That, coupled with further development of their Kids of Mud program will go a long way to create a great riding destination within the park boundaries. Outside the park, the club is working very hard at the local level to bring great trails to the surrounding communities and in time connect those communities and the parks itself through trails!

Our workshop and build was well attended on Saturday and although we did not build any new trail, we did a lot of great work to improve a needy section of the lower ravine trail, which will improve user experiences greatly. This visit was a very positive one and given the diversity of the attendees, it shows just how important trails and great trail experiences can be in rural areas. I would like to extend my thanks to Pam, Reed, Dennis, Richard and the rest of the Dead Ox Trail Blazers for their amazing hospitality throughout this visit. Given the positive discussions and diverse turnout from this past weekend, I am very excited for what is to come for trails and trail experiences in the Riding Mountain area!

For a link to the photos from my visit with the DeadOx Trailblazers click here!

-Justin Truelove