I agree, Ian. Besides helping riders new to the area, I think there are several reasons using “McIntosh Run” consistently will help grow MTBing here and elsewhere in Halifax.
My vantage point is that of an MTBer since 1983, built my first trail in BC in '84, and currently a board member of MRWA. I’m not a Halifax old-guy MTBer as I only started riding in HFX in the mid 2000s.
I think it’s worth reviewing the origin of the names, at least for people new to the area. If this is boring, jump to my reasons for using “McIntosh Run” below.
McIntosh Run comes from the name of the river that extends the length of the trail system, and connects Flat Lake, Duck Pond, West Pine Pond, etc… The name was presented in a multiyear 2012-2015 public consultation process for the trail system, and it underlines the land use agreements, almost all the funding, and is on all the trail signs. The trails ridden the most today, based on Trailforks counts, were all new trails proposed in the 2014 McIntosh Run proposal and built since then – with the exceptions of Lous and Flat Lake trail, which were informal trails in the "fight system’ adopted and sanctioned.
Since it is based on real geography, “McIntosh Run” is a name that makes sense to everyone – lifetime residents, MTBers, fisherman, hunters, etc who all have different ways of appreciating and using the land. A watershed concept unites. A lot of different people have contributed in one way or another to the trail system over the past few years, and a lot of work has been done. A lot more people are riding, too so as a brand it seems to work pretty well, – better, I think, than any previous “brand” or way of building singletrack in HRM. Maybe I’m biased.
Fight, to my knowledge and from Randy’s guidebooks, originated as the name of an unauthorized trail on numerous parcels of private land extending along the north side of Colpitt Lake to Purcells Cove, a different area than the sanctioned McIntosh Run trails (the original Fight does overlap part of the Lake Loop north of Flat Lake, based on my early recollections and Randy’s maps). The first rule of Fight Club is don’t tell anyone about it; thus the name for the trail. The current Gords is also part of an old much longer Gords of similar vintage to the original Fight. I’m not an expert on this (is anyone? I’ve heard 10 different stories about who built what trail where).
In time “Fight Trail” grew into a curious form of in-group informal geography that was applied to an ever increasing region by some MTBers and trail runners. Today, some MTBers are applying “Fight” to trails built in the last few years, in a different area than the original Fight, by different people, and offering a totally different experience. And in many cases the people who did the building or paid for the building have never even heard of “Fight”. Some OG MTBers that are passionately attached to the term “Fight” have even told me that calling these new trails “FIght” is an important part of their history, which is funny in a mind bending way.
These are some reasons “McIntosh Run” usage is better for trails:
1. The permission to build, maintain and use MTBs on the trails is based on agreements with landowners for “McIntosh Run” trails. The approvals from First Nations were for a proposal for a McIntosh Run trails. Nothing said “Fight”. I can’t imagine any of these managers or groups would rescind access based on some people saying “Fight”, but likewise I don’t see any benefit to using a name different than that presented to landowners and managers, or others who really have much more connection to the land than me.
2. Funding for the trails. The major donors that pay for tools, trail crew etc today … all know the trails as “McIntosh Run”. This includes the province, HRM, Ducks Unlimited, MEC Canada, CleanNS (some supporters like @muddy and RPM are obviously familiar with the term “Fight”, but ~90% of funding sources are not). Using “Fight” in social media etc can confuse these major sponsors, lessens the impact of their contribution, and is an obstacle to raising more funds. For those who think “Fight” would be an awesome brand instead: forget it. I seriously doubt any major supporter would fund a trail proposal for public land that is branded with a deliberately exclusionary name, with aggressive overtones, developed by a niche user group.
3. Public Consultation and Broad Support: The landowner permissions were granted because of public support for a “McIntosh Run” system during a multi-year public consultation process that included two public meetings (100s of people each) and representatives of all three levels of government. No-one proposed the system should be called “Fight Trail” during those consultations. I think it makes sense to show respect for a public consultation process if you want continued access to public land, here and elsewhere. The consultations were a success because there was BROAD support: many different people could unite behind a watershed ‘brand’ (vs the niche name Fight). If MTBers want to promote a separate clique brand and name, which makes no sense to fisherman, hunters, birders, naturalists, and other people who supported the project, it’s just bad manners.
4. Do you want more trails? Before building new trails now (such as Clark Kent), a MRWA rep goes door to door to residents to gain support and feedback from adjacent residents. We (MRWA - thankfully not something I do personally) think these conversations are a easier when it is about “McIntosh Run” because everyone knows, understands, and appreciates the river and landscape. If you were a Syrian immigrant who recently moved into the subdivision, would it make sense to have “FIght Trail” in your backyard? Would you want to come out and help?
5. Do you want other people to continue to build and manage the trails you ride? It might surprise some people here, but many people who volunteer to build and maintain the singletrack you ride today have never even heard of “Fight”, but are proud and energized to contribute to what the see as an important project called “McIntosh Run”. These people have contributed 1000s of hours. This includes lifetime residents of Spryfield who help to make maps and run a crew payroll. It also includes hundreds of people who have picked up a shovel and pick over the past few years, including local residents, recent immigrants and exchange students, city council candidates, groups of Scouts, Ducks Unlimited staff, summer camp kids from Canadian Wildlife Federation summer camps, and huge numbers of hours contributed during corporate build days (Duck N Run especially). If MTBer want these people to continue building singletrack for you, adopting the same inclusive attitude and brand, ie “McIntosh Run”, makes sense.
These “Fight-ignorant” volunteers are not against MTBs. MRWA has regular volunteer hikers who are stoked to build berms. However, telling these volunteers – deliberately or not-- that this project is “Fight Trail” is never positive in my experience. Why? Picture yourself busting your ass with a pick and shovel, or an excel spreadsheet, for a community project in your neighbourhood, one that has an inclusive name and purpose which makes sense to almost everyone… and then a dude in a helmet and sunglasses basically tells you that “all the trails in this area are the top secret trails of me and my bros”. This can make that particular MTBer look like a self-absorbed douchebag, and other MTBers by association. It turns off some volunteers.
6. What is the usual, consistent method for naming a trail system or riding area?
Colourful trail names are common amongst MTBers but Halifax mountain bikers are unusual, in my experience, for fabricating their own names for trail systems (like Fight) which are unrelated to real landforms or landmarks. In B.C., I’ll ride Mtn Seymour. No-one decided to call it “Severed Dick” because Severed was one of the first MTB trails in the area. In Squamish, there is Alice Lake. In Moab, Amasa Back. On the Sunshine Coast, Roberts Creek. In Pennsylvania, Rattling Creek. I’m sure there are exceptions but using lakes, rivers, canyons, mountains etc is common for good reasons. Perhaps one reason is that most of us ride to connect with a natural landscape.
Those are some reasons. I’m just in it for the trails, and less blasting for “development” of the watershed.