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Work to be begin on Tabor Mountain trail network

Thirty-five kilometres of mountain biking, hiking, snowshoeing and running trails are planned near Tabor Lake west of Prince George.

After years of planning, construction on a network of trails on the west face of Tabor Mountain is expected to start this year.

Association of Caledonia Trailbuilders president Dan Domes said the volunteer group “of committed mountain bikers” has been working to survey and plan the trail network for years. When fully built out, the trail system – located 20 km east of Prince George – will provide year-round recreation for biking, hiking, snowshoeing and running.

“We’ve been at it for six years now. Authorization to proceed with building was granted in February this year,” Domes said, during a presentation to the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George board of directors on Thursday.

The association is looking to raise money to build the network, he added, as “trail building is expensive.”

“We have 35 km of undeveloped trail, that will take us well into the future,” Domes said. “The Highway 16 corridor has a great potential for mountain bike tourism.”

Association trail director Ed Day said the planned trail network will create another option for local and visiting riders.

“We have a very strong riding culture, cycling culture,” Day said. “Pidherny, Otway and Forests for the World, their parking lots are about always at capacity on weekends, and on weekday evenings.”

The association has a roughly 630 hectare (2,300 acre) area and they hope to get seven kilometres of trail constructed this year, he said. The site offers a total of 525 metres of elevation, compared to 190 m at Pidherny, he added.

“We have road access from the bottom of the mountain all the way to the top. When the project is done completely, there will be the ability to go from the top to the bottom in a connected series of trails for a total distance of 12-and-a-half kilometres,” Day said. “This is a mature forest primarily, except where you go through some clear cut at the top. It’s very beautiful, and the trees are nicely spaced.”

One challenge for the association will be managing potential conflicts with other users in the area, Domes said.

“On Tabor Mountain the motorized used of non-motorized trails has been a perennial problem,” Domes said.

In addition, the area is sometimes used by people target shooting, he added.

Day said the trails will be designed to make them difficult for dirt bikes, quads and snowmobiles to use, typically only being two feet wide and incorporating switchbacks.

“The switchbacks will be very awkward for motorized vehicles to negotiate,” Day said.

Regional district director Bill Empey, who represents the Tabor Lake area, said he shares the association’s concerns about motorized users damaging the trails, but said the project will be “(A) great thing to be in our community.”

Regional district director and mayor of Mackenzie Joan Atkinson said a similar project is under development at Morfee Mountain in the Mackenzie area. The planned trails will include 15 km of trails with 850 m of elevation, she said.

“Valemount has done an exceptional job promoting mountain biking,” Atkinson said. “Fly to Prince George with your bike and you can spend a month up here riding all the beautiful trails.”

Valemount Mayor Owen Torgerson said mountain biking has become a tourism draw in his area, and he would be happy to work with groups in Prince George and Mackenzie to help promote the region.

“Mountain biking… remains an untapped resource for the tourism sector.”