McIntosh Run vs Fight Trail

Many of us still refer to the McIntosh Run singletrack system as Fight Trail (or McFight), and I’m here with a small plea to use the proper name.

An Atlantic MTB’er who follows me messaged me randomly today with the above question about how to find Fight Trail. Fortunately, I saw it in time to guide them to McIntosh Run on TrailForks.

If we’re going to be serious about attracting MTB tourism, we should probably make it easier for people actually find the trails by using the proper name.

Edit: Screenshot shared with permission of the question asker. :slight_smile:

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Completely agree! As a newcomer to the community it gave me some confusion in the beginning having these two names referencing the same place.

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Aren’t the old bits (lake loop, Gord’s, SST, etc) technically still considered Fight Trail? @Lawrence likely knows far better than I. Of course, you have to traverse MRWA trails to get to those, so likely not helpful.

Not saying more consistent branding efforts couldn’t be made to make it more accessible, of course. Couldn’t the Trailforks listing say “(formerly known as Fight Trail)” at least until it’s more widely know? It hasn’t been that long since the switch happened. Rebranding anything can take a long time, especially when there aren’t explicit renaming campaigns to help speed it along.

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McIntosh Run shows up when you search ‘Fight Trail’ on the desktop version of Trail Forks. It doesn’t show up for me on the app though, despite Fight being mentioned in the description.

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Interesting–they must use different meta data for the search parameters on the app vs website. Makes it all the more important to get that into the title. I think @Gentile may be able to help with that.

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As a newer MTB’er to the community I came in only hearing of Fight Trail and for the last 3 years referred to it as such.

I now work for MRWA and McIntosh Run is the way to go. As a community we need to be ambassadors and embrace and promote the culture that is Mac Run.

It will eliminate confusion from the onset. And be better for cycling tourism for the HRM and NS.

No I’m not drinking the Koolaid. I just love to promote what we have. :joy::rofl:

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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.

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Regarding adding “Formerly known as FIght Trail” to trailforks: The AKA field is set to Fight for search purposes, and for three years the NW area of the MR system was referred to as the historical ‘Fight’ in the Trailforks description. Point taken about the app though, I didn’t know that.

Saying that McIntosh Run is “formerly known as Fight” doesn’t make much sense, I think, given trails like Duck and Run and West Pine, which are ridden far more than the Lake Loop, are not really near the area of the original “Fight system” (however defined), let alone the original FT. It might add confusion.

Regarding branding/rebranding. You’re the expert, obviously. I think the branding for MR is actually pretty strong. There have been physical signs for “McIntosh Run Singletrack” at all entrances for three years, a beautiful map, a website with a map, facebook with a lot of followers, Trailforks, etc (in contrast to “Fight” which has none of those things). HRM recently named part of their land as “McIntosh Run Regional Park”. Trail construction signs say who is responsible and how to get all involved. A mailchimp list. A lot of people figure it out.

There’s also been lengthy public consultations (two, attended by 100s each) for the MR system and name, plus numerous CBC radio and TV stories etc over the past five years. It seemed to imprint the name McIntosh Run on a lot of people who started contributing. Perhaps not you or many OG MTBers, but I’d guess far more people, and more diverse, than ever contributed to building the original FT.

Most of the time, when I talk to new people who become confused by MR vs FT, it seems the confusion arises because an old guy MTBer has told them it’s all “Fight”.

I suppose it will just take time for some people to get used to “McIntosh Run”. If a few more MTBers use it consistently as Ian suggests, I think any remaining confusion will dissipate soon. That would be helpful.

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Just for the sake of adding a bit of trivia, the original name for fight trail that predates Gord’s Gold etc was South Dixie Highway. This was the trail that ran north of colpit lake and beyond. While I was updating the book someone coined the name Fight Trail and it just stuck so that’s what I went with. Apologies to the original trail builders.

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All great points and I agree with everything you’ve said, Lawrence.

The biggest thing standing in the way is longevity. The system was colloquially known as Fight for 15+ years, but McIntosh Run as a name has really only been in play and visible for the past few. That inertia takes time to disrupt. All the right things are being done, but it will take time. Amongst my riding group, the names are used interchangeably. That’s just habit, but it will stop after time. The TrailForks issue remains and I don’t think much can be done about that if people don’t know what to look for. Give it a few years and I don’t think it will be an issue.

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For reference here’s the original map and trail description from Randy’s guidebook circa late 90’s.

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That last paragraph in Randy’s trail description from 20 years ago says it all. If it weren’t for MRWA none of us would be riding there today.

@Lawrence thanks for the thoughtful explanation and your contributions via MRWA.

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I have looked for days for my old map book, I wish I could find it just for the nostalgia

There’s a copy online.

Oh sweet, Thanks!! If I recall mine had a green front page. I think it was from the early 90’s. When did he first make them?

Yes, but did yours have the exclusive ‘ti staple’?

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Good question, if it didn’t I am sure I would have upgraded it after drilling 50 holes into my bottle cage as that seemed to be cool at the time :slight_smile:

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Also, I’m not 100% sure but I think the name Fight Trail predated the movie reference by a little bit. I think we called the original trail Fight Trail because we had to “fight” through all of the brush along the colpit lake section.

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Was it 8.5 * 11 green cover with 8.5 * 14 pages? If so that is a collector’s item from one of the first runs. I think the first year was late 1993 or early 1994.

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Best to get er on E-Bay! Bring in some solid dollars for the old works of @tossedsalad!