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On Saturday morning, September 19, volunteers met at the Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area (HVHSA) parking lot to collect rakes, pick axes, shovels, and hoes, eager to get the trail building underway.
“This is amazing—a great turnout,” said Buck Miller, president of the Huntsville Mountain Bike Association (HMBA), smiling as he watched the first group of volunteers climb the steep front face of the Dutchman ski run, towards the multi-use trails they’d spend the day digging out by hand.
On August 24, Huntsville Council unanimously approved the initiative of the joint partnership between Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area, the Town of Huntsville, and the HMBA to develop a multi-use trail system.
HMBA volunteers are building and maintaining the trails on HVHSA property, which will include roughly eight kilometres of beginner and intermediate level trails, open from May 1 to October 31. No membership with HMBA or the ski hill will be required, and there will be no fees to residents, the public, or visitors.
“The [HMBA] Board has been in here working for the past month. We’ve got it all flagged, and there are some areas that are actually dug up and cut out,” said Miller. “We wanted to get a head start before we invited everyone out here to get going with hand tools.”
Miller was thankful for the help the HMBA has received from the local community. “Near North Log Homes donated roughly $1,000 in lumber for bridges,” he said. “We’re a non-profit and we rely on the generosity of Muskoka-based businesses to help keep us going. Every dollar we raise goes back into the trails at Hidden Valley ski hill and Echo Valley Nature and Bike Trails.”
Asked about the progress on the trails and when they might be ready, Miller had a positive attitude. “Initially, we thought if we had the green light by June or July, we could have had a grand opening in the fall, but now it looks like it will be in the spring [of 2021],” he said. “But that’s okay. It gives us more time to prepare.”
Miller said there will be at least one more trail building day in October, and possibly one in November. “Our intermediate loop is pretty good. We’re hoping to have the beginner loop started between now and the next build day. In the meantime, we’ll be continuing the work as an association.”
“All the [HMBA] Board members have worked really hard, donating their time, and growing the momentum for this,” said Kristi MacDonald of The Bike Shop in Huntsville. “Without them, this never would have happened.”
Board members Jeff Punkari, Luke Howell, Graham Henderson, and Adam Galt were on hand to lead volunteers out to the many different areas of the trails, where they worked in small groups, digging out the paths, raking, and building bridges.
Several high school students were among those who came out to join in the effort. “We’re excited for some new trails. There’s some good elevation here,” said Cole Punchard, a grade 12 Huntsville High School student who helped out all morning, along with his dad and his brother. Punchard, like many of the other volunteers out that day, was enthusiastic about the eventual results for the day’s labour. “I’m really excited to use the trails.”
For more information about the next trail building day, or to support the HMBA through membership, visit huntsvillemountainbike.ca.
If you are interested in making a donation or supplying materials, contact Buck Miller, HMBA president at email@example.com.
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