Muddy wheel ruts are popping up along mixed-use trails in the West Boundary, prompting calls by area hiking enthusiasts and ATV clubs to tread lightly on the thawing paths.
The damage came to light in mid-March, when photos showed the rutting along stretches of the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) west of Midway, according to Ciel Sander, co-ordinator at the Trails to the Boundary Society.
The society looks after roughly 155 kilometres of former rail grade between Eholt and the outskirts of Big White. But while Sander said area trails typically absorb some punishment as winter gives way to the spring thaw, she warned that serious damage is likely to stay for the long-term.
“The bottom line is that people need to stay off the trails during mud season,” she told The Gazette Wednesday, March 23.
The society’s $5,000 annual grant from Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. covers nowhere near the cost of resurfacing badly rutted, pockmarked trails. The money instead goes to more mundane upkeep like brush-clearing and building outhouses.
“So, if you’re on the trail and you see that you’re making tracks, just turn around. Don’t continue,” Sander said.
ATV club presidents John Inbriton (Greenwood) and Doug Zorn (Grand Forks) agreed.
“At our club, we’re pretty well on the same page: If the trail is muddy, then please, stay off,” Inbriton said.
Commenting on the recent wheel ruts, Zorn said it only takes one irresponsible user, wheeled or not, to ruin the trails for everyone else.
There was no telling who’d recently damaged the West Boundary trails, but Zorn said, “It would be really unfortunate if anyone on an ATV would be so anxious to get out there and ride that they couldn’t wait for dryer weather.”
For her part, Sander said cyclists, hikers and horse riders can leave lasting damage. It all depends on a user’s weight relative to trail conditions.
She also pointed out that the TCT is a much loved tourist attraction in the Boundary, apart from being massively popular with locals.
Damage the trail, and you could be gouging the Boundary’s tourist economy.