World-class mountain biking coming to Nakusp, BC

The multi-year project, started in 2017, will eventually see 50 kilometres of trails built through the forest.

by Janis Neufeld, Project Manager for the Nakusp and Area Bike Society
Little Nieve Thomas standing in front of a NABS construction sign.

Little Nieve Thomas looks excited about the building of a trail system in Nakusp. — Photo courtesy Darryl Thomas

The Nakusp and Area Bike Society (NABS) has successfully raised more than $500,000 to continue work on the trail system being built about eight kilometres north of the village.

The funding, from sources ranging from BC Rural Dividends to the Columbia Basin Trust, will allow NABS to hire dozens of people to continue work on the ambitious project.

The multi-year project, started in 2017, will eventually see 50 kilometres of trails built through the forest from the top of Mount Abriel to the lakeshore. The network will be attractive and accessible to beginners, families, people with diverse abilities, and expert mountain bikers.

It is planned to be a world-class destination—that’s been the desire and intent from the start—to be an attraction for the area that will help support the local economy. The trail network will also complement other trail projects in the region bringing the Kootenays to the forefront of mountain bike tourism.

Last year’s start saw the initial six kilometers of trails being built on the lower part of the mountain next to Arrow Lakes, great for cross-country mountain biking and trail running. Among the projects planned for this year are extending the cross-country trails, start on the downhill specific trails, building a 30-site campground, and completing an ‘Adaptive Mountain Biking’ trail.

An Adaptive Mountain Bike or aMTB is a specialized off-road 3-wheel hand cycle that is designed for individuals with diverse abilities and can handle a variety of terrain. At the Abriel network, a five- kilometre loop is being built to aMTB specifications that include a low grade, minimal camber and a minimum width of six feet. It will follow the lakeshore, with beautiful views, and a raised boardwalk.

And another great thing about building to aMTB standards is it creates a really great beginner’s trail that anyone can use, including kids on run bikes!

The next two years will see a large part of the project built, the idea is to complete as much of the project as possible. The objective is to get 14.6 kilometres done in the next two years, but NABS is aiming for more like 20, which will be approximately the half way point. It is unknown as to whether the society will be able to attain more funding, so the goal is to complete as much as possible with what they have received.

NABS has hired three managers to oversee the actual construction of the trails, and says anywhere from 10-20 people will be hired on a full and part-time basis to do the work. There’s also funding for contractors and equipment operators for jobs that can’t be done with muscle power.

While $500,000-plus may seem like a lot, NABS has to be very good stewards of this funding and pinch every penny, continuing to rely on volunteers and in-kind support to a great extent. The project is expected to cost about $1.25 million in total and take five years to complete.

The end product of the Abriel project is to make Nakusp a must-ride destination for those who come to this country. When they hear about B.C. and the Kootenays, they’ll hear ‘Hey, you have to get to the Mount Abriel trail system, it is unreal’.

That is what this is all about.

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