On October 17, the Capital Regional District (CRD) announced the sanctioning of several previously existing yet unsanctioned trails in Thetis Lake Regional Park. The trails they have sanctioned include Tom’s (a descent from the top of Mt.Stewart), Stewart Lighthouse, Lighthouse Extension, Mostly Open, Better Than The Road and Steep and Deep, along with many more. A notable exclusion from the authorized trail plan is the Scafe Hill area, which has been deemed environmentally highly sensitive.
This announcement comes after many years of advocacy from groups like SIMBS. In 2004 the CRD detailed in their “Thetis Lake, Francis/King and Mill Hill Regional Parks Management Plan'', where they stated that they hope to “Enter into a formal agreement with South Island Mountain Biking Society (SIMBS) or other cycling groups to determine locations where a limited number of single track or otherwise challenging cycling trails could be built. The disturbed areas beneath the power lines on either side of Stewart Mountain on either side of Stewart Mountain are possible locations for these trails”.
In the lead up to the sanctioning of this riding area SIMBS has been consulted to provide context and advice for the future of this riding area. This included highlighting the history of these trails as well as the potential of the region as a riding area. Current and future trail construction and maintenance is being done by CRD trail crews. This has included creating bridges over low lying areas, trimming back Scotch broom and weeds from the trail corridor and installing much needed signage. Some more extensive work was done on Lighthouse Trail to reconnect the trail, as a segment of the trail passed through private land and was closed a few years ago. The other area of major work has been Tom’s Trail which the CRD has begun to convert into a two-way corridor by providing alternate climbing lines. It is our hope and understanding that the original downhill lines on Tom’s will be maintained while providing a new option to climb this trail. It should be noted that trail work that has been done to date, may not be the final result, as the CRD intends to continue to work on this trail network.
SIMBS would like to thank the entire South Island mountain bike community for your advocacy, as these newly sanctioned trails, and others, would not be possible.