The fair spring weather has tempted some local mountain bikers to get out on the trails. According to the North Okanagan Cycling Society (NOCS) and BC Parks, many local trails are not ready to ride even if they are clear of snow.
This is because when trails thaw in the spring they become wet and soft, making it easy for ruts or deep footprints to be left behind.
“With the warm weather, our minds shift quickly away from the snow and into the dirt,” says NOCS trails director Jason Martin. “Please be smart with your actions and think about the trail conditions before you go. There are places to ride, you just have to be wise about the time of day and location.”
During the freeze-thaw cycle in the spring, the trails are at the highest risk of being damaged if used too early. The sun heats up the snow, which then melts, leaving groundwater and puddles behind. The saturated ground then freezes at night, causing groundwater to swell the compacted trail soil.
A trail is not ready to ride if you see ruts, footprints deeper than a boot tread, or standing water. If you are dodging muddy sections and puddles, or there is mud sticking to your tires or shoes, that trail is not ready to ride or hike. Being on a trail too early also results in what is called “braiding” which is the human-caused widening of the trail to avoid muddy sections.
Unfortunately, some local mountain bikers, hikers, and horse riders have already caused damage that will take a significant amount of volunteer time to repair. A useful app to see the latest trail conditions reported by trail users is TrailForks available
NOCS maintains trails in Kalamalka Lake, Ellison, and SilverStar Provincial Parks, and was the 2018 BC Parks Volunteer Group of the Year.