Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Kimberley Forest Trails

As I mentioned yesterday, Kimberley Forest is riddled with trails.  On a map they are so complex that you can't follow them.  And one of the main management issues is dealing with the use of these trails particularly on these environmentally sensitive slopes

Perhaps the oldest trail is the Bruce Trail, a hiking trail that's been here 50 years.   This section often gets used for snowshoeing.  Generally, it doesn't conflict with any other trails.

And the newest trails are the Nordic ski trails, entirely up on the relatively flatter land on top of the slopes.  They certainly don't look like this right now though!

The other old trails are the actual road allowance that bends through the area, and a set of cross-country trails that were cut through the forest in the 1970's.  The main snowmobile trail has also been here a long time, but snowmobilers around here are a responsible group, and they don't conflict with other trails either.

Parts of the old ski trails are still used, though not for cross-country skiing. But other sections, including several bridges over little creeks, have been abandoned and are now growing in with young trees.  None of those bridges like this one are safe anymore.

There are two big management challenges.  One is the many springs, like this one, and the other is the steep slopes. The springs reflect the underlying geology, because there is a layer in the slope that groundwater cannot percolate through.  The result is that dozens of springs emerge on the slopes like this and trickle down the slope - all year long except in very dry periods.

When the water trickling downhill meets a trail across the slope used by ATV's, this is what happens.  Not all trails are like this, but a disturbing number are.  And of course that spoils the trails for other users.

A slightly different problem happens on the steeper slopes.  There water trickling downhill tends to follow the trails themselves, and quickly forms a tiny ditch running down the trail. 

Unfortunately, on these step slopes, that ditch gets deeper very quickly, making the trail unsafe for other users, like mountain bikers or horseback riders.  In some places it's no longer even safe for ATV's, and certainly not for snowmobiles.

If this were on gravel soil, the result would be very different, but on these clay soils, on the steep slopes, it doesn't take much of a track for the water to start flowing down it.  This track has only been heavily used like this for the past 2 or 3 years.

Even on the flat river floodplain at the bottom of the slopes, the water pools on top of the clay soil, even though the tracks here are very shallow.  It's going to be a major challenge to bring all these trails back into usable condition!

I should say that ALL user groups using these trails including the local ATV and the local snowmobile clubs, have been members of the small community group working to improve the management of this property.  The organized ATV Club has agreed that these trails are in large part unsuitable for ATV's.  We'll see how well we can manage the situation and keep all the groups happy!


A dismal few days here, with temperatures up well above freezing, the snow melting fast, and heavy rain coming and going.  Nearly 10 Celsius here today - unheard of!  It's supposed to be colder tomorrow, but it will take a lot of new snow to make any trails around here skiable again this year!

Again my computer wouldn't connect this evening.  It's as if it gets tired by the end of the day!  Morning seems fine!  This time I transferred pictures, and typed it on my laptop, which has much finer print.  So I think it worked, but I'm still frustrated!


  1. Ah, ATVs. It should have crossed my mind.

  2. It looks like the ATVs have caused a lot of erosion and damage! The area I live in has many trails that are maintained by a community trail club. They put up signs asking residents not to use the trails if they find they are leaving footprints or bicycle prints. There are some trails that are paved and they can be used at all times.

  3. Always hard to balance the needs/wants of all user groups. Hope you get your computer straightened out!

  4. Beautiful scenes and images. It is a shame to see the damage from the ATV's . The ATV's and the mountain bikes are banned from some trails around here. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day!

  5. I will be hiking on muddy trails today that mountain bikers have torn up pretty severely. I think they may be banned from the mountain, but that doesn't keep them off it. I'll try to get some pictures that show the damage, like you have done here. I do hope you get some more normal weather and some snow to ski on soon! :-)

  6. It's sad that AYV users and mountain bikers have damaged so many trails. I think THEY should be required to repair the trails...but you have to catch them first. lol

  7. There are ways to stabilize trails cut up by ATVs or mountain bikes using geotextiles or geogrids, but they're not inexpensive and require a fair amount of work. Unfortunately, many of the riders don't realize the damage they do (and may even like it so they can ride through the mud) and the long term consequences. Banning such use is largely ineffective since the worst offenders will ride anyway.

  8. Beautiful trails for all to use. Nice that people can share the trails for all sorts of activities.

  9. Your photos bring back many memories for me of days spent cross country skiing in the Wildwood Conservation Area east of St. Marys Ontario back in the mid to late 80's & into the early 90's. Your occasional Kimberly area ski slope photos remind of my very first down hill ski experience at Talisman. I loved it. I was 49 years old & continued to downhill for the rest of that winter. Never made it to Collingwood but did ski Ellacott NY once.