History

The first single-track mountain biking trails in the Petersburg Forest were created in 1997 and 1998.  They were unsanctioned offshoots from the original multi-purpose public trail in this woodlot.  The initial cycling specific trails were built gradually, by a variety of users in a fragmented way, without any long term planning.  While built with good intentions and much enthusiasm, many portions of the trails and features were constructed using unsafe techniques and materials, and catered only to a small group of thrill seeking users.  These extreme features offered notoriety and excitement, but they also brought unwanted attention and concern from the public and landowners, including the Region of Waterloo.

 

An example of an unsanctioned and potentially dangerous feature at the original trails
An example of an unsanctioned and potentially dangerous feature at the original trails

In 2001, after the Region of Waterloo removed all of the built up wood structures in the Petersburg forest, Ron Head and I began a long partnership modifying the existing trail system and building new sections in a planned, safe and sustainable manner.  Ron and I also started building and altering trails in the Waterloo Regional Landfill’s ESPA woodlot.  A large portion of their work involved older ad hoc trail sections in the Landfill woodlot created over time by hikers, equestrians, cyclists, and all-terrain-vehicle traffic.

 

After joining the Petersburg and Landfill sections via the hydro tower corridor, a well-planned, connected and organized trail network started taking shape and became known as ‘The Hydrocut’.  Ron and I have succeeded in creating a safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly trail network that successfully barred illegal motorized vehicle traffic from much of the forested areas on each side of the hydro corridor.  Our work was recognized and welcomed as being beneficial by the Regional forest managers Chris Gosselin and Albert Hovingh.  From that point on, a close relationship and a fruitful cooperation evolved between the forest managers and the two enthusiastic trail builders.

 

Ron and Igor with helpers, in the early days, before the cycling club's involvement
Ron and Igor with helpers, in the early days, before the cycling club’s involvement

In the search for helping hands to assist with the ongoing and difficult work of trail management, Ron and I eventually turned to the Waterloo Cycling Club. The club’s membership provided a good source of motivated individuals for creating better trail riding opportunities in the community.  The role of the club became especially useful when it became necessary to formalize the trail stewardship arrangement through an official agreement.

The Region of Waterloo and the Waterloo Cycling Club entered into the Trail Stewardship Agreement on May 1st, 2009. This agreement has existed in its current form since that time, and acts as the framework for the trails operation.

 

Igor Dragoslavic

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