Mtn. bike trails legalized

A popular network of mountain bike trails in the Upper Mission has been officially legalized, after a local mountain biking club completed a long-awaited partnership with the province.

The Gillard trail network, accessed off the Gillard Forest Service Road, has been used by mountain bikers for over 20 years, but the trails, built on Crown land, have always been technically illegal.

In 2014, trespassing notices from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations appeared on the mountain bike structures on the Gillard trails.

“When that happened, we were ready to go on a legalization application,” Jay Darby, president of the Mountain Bikers of the Central Okanagan said. “We filed an application in fall of 2014, and then it's a long process.”

Last week, Darby, announced the club had reached a formal partnership agreement with Recreation Sites and Trails BC, a department of the provincial government.

The trail network is one of several that have been built and maintained by generations of riders around the Okanagan, but Darby says the Gillard trails are the first in Kelowna on Crown Land to be made legal.

Darby says the partnership with the government allows the club to manage the trails.

“The trails have to be built to a certain standard and maintained to that standard,” he said. “There are safety standards, signage, trail routing and that kind of thing for the structured features on the trail. We have to bring that up to acceptable standards.”

Once the club brings the trails up to that standard, they have more long-term goals in mind, like creating a track for riders to climb uphill, rather than climbing on the well-used forest service road, and building more beginner trails.

They also plan to build a proper parking lot for riders. 

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