Overhead view of a new climbing trail in Cumberland. Photo by Bill McLane from Workhorse Trail Design

United Riders of Cumberland construct new climbing trail

The United Riders of Cumberland has finished constructing a five-kilometre climbing trail that enables hikers and bikers to reach the upper portion of the network without using resource roads.

Volunteers spent thousands of hours on paperwork in order to assist building the Sobo No Michi, a Japanese name that translates into Grandmothers Path/Trail. Sobo means grandmother and No Michi can also mean philosopher’s way, our path through life.

Construction of the trail was built by Workhorse Trail Design.

“We are creating something very special for the Comox Valley,” UROC executive director Dougal Browne said. “It’s significant because there’s 30 years of people building mountain bike trails, and all of those trails are either cross-country or go down. The trail system has never had a designated inroad.”

Until now, he said the network has had a “weird and wonderful way” of getting people up to or near their destination — which at times has caused conflict.

“This climbing trail changes that,” Browne said. “It’s a causeway into the heart of the trail system. Some of the oldest and most significant trails that have been built there by some of our oldest volunteers will now be way more accessible.”

The trail starts at the exit of Broadway and winds its way up and across Perseverance Creek with an elevation gain of 500 metres and approximately 89 switchbacks.

UROC received nearly $100,000 in provincial funding for the machine-built trail. It is hosting a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday.

The non-profit UROC has been operating since 2008. In 2015, it secured a land access agreement between the land owners — Mosaic Forest Management and Hancock Timber Resource Group — in alliance with the Village of Cumberland.

“Which allowed us to not trespass when we went onto that land to recreate,” Browne said.

The organization has grown to include seven employees, and an executive director. There are 40 to 50 trail-building volunteers. Collectively, the group donates 3,000-4,000 volunteer hours a year.

“The organization is now the custodian of 160 to 180 kilometres of trail for multi-use recreation, primarily mountain biking,” said Browne, who encourages people to purchase a UROC membership for $30.

The Cumberland Forest trail network had about 130,000 clicks through the gate last year.

“It’s somewhere in the order of 65,000 people mountain biking,” Browne said. “It is one of the world’s leading mountain bike areas.”

FMI: unitedridersofcumberland.com

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