What's up with Halifax?

I have been fortunate to ride some very awesome trails this summer, Bonshaw and Brookvale in PEI, and Edmunston and Woolastook in NB.

In all cases, the trails were extremely fun, extremely well built and extremely well maintained. Also, all areas had local cycling groups that ensured the well built and well maintained trails not only existed, but continue this way for years to come.

I raced at Woolastook, and this trail and others around Fredericton are part of the River Valley Cycling Club. The trails in Edmunston are part of Velo Edmunston, and in PEI they have the Rigid Riders. Both the River Valley Cycling Club and Rigid Riders have been featured in Cycling Canada Magazine recently.

Why is it we have nothing like that here??? In talking to many of the guys I ride with, we all say that it is hard to believe that places like Fredericton, Edmunston and PEI above can have the fantastic trails systems and support when they are so much smaller than Halifax.

Riders in Edmunston pay a $40 trail fee for the year and the money goes to trail building/ maintenance. Visitors, like myself, pay $10/ day and this goes towards the same thing. River Valley Cycling charges a membership fee which goes towards the same thing, as does Rigid Riders.

In all my years of riding here in Halifax, which is well over 10, I have never seen or heard of anything like this. I know there are people who do lots to keep our trails up and running, but I look at what I saw traveling to NB and PEI this summer and am left asking myself, what’s up with Halifax???

I know we have the MacIntosh Run Association, and others working towards gaining more/ better access to trails, but these are not MTB specific to my knowledge. I am also not knocking what we have here, as I love ripping through Fight/ Whopper/ Spider, but I will say after riding in these other locations I catch myself thinking of the what ifs and whys.

Would be interested in hearing other views on this as I can help thinking that if these other places can do it, why can’t we???


I think Halifax’s size is actually what’s holding it back. There’s too many competing interests vying for our time and money and it’s difficult to get the entire community to rally behind just one activity.

Small towns like Kentville/Wolfville, Burke VT (Kingdom Trails) and those you mentioned above are much more nimble. Their investments in cycling infastructure and the resulting benefits are felt by the entire community, which breeds more interest and more investment. In Halifax those efforts just get lost in the bureaucratic shuffle.


@rolls, I agree with you, but I wonder why we and all the other MTBers who frequent the trails can’t put something together like the other clubs that are seen…

Hrm controls any land access and has quietly fought tooth and nail against mtb or single track trails. The layers of red tape and the career officials have entrenched a crusher gravel roadbed mentality to any and all trails in the hrm. Just ask the mcintosh group. They are still waiting for signed paper from the city for a project that started many years ago.

@adventurer mentioned to me one time that Tony Mancini (councillor for Harbourview-Burnside-Dartmouth East) is into the MTB scene. Might be a good ally in the fight to push things through. But I find Halifax as @darkmyth said fights everything. Nothing seems to go fast in this city, Well…except for tax money.

@darkmyth speaks the truth, if it isn’t accessible for everyone HRM doesn’t want it. Anywhere where singletrack is concerned (BMBCL for example) almost always involves the Tilley hat mafia who hate mtb.

Tilley hat mafia http://i.imgur.com/JQB7k.gif

It also seems like the stores in this area could play a larger part, and our larger ones seem to be almost entirely road-oriented in their events. Other than Cyclesmith’s short track series, I don’t see a lot of support for MTB locally. I don’t think any of the shops host a group ride, which could draw more new participants. By comparison, other stores seem to support local events and races, actively promote their local trails (and provide great info for the out-of-town riders), and often carry a better stock for MTB gear.
In particular, I find Hub and Bike Monkey, VSC and Banks, and Highland have been very visible in supporting MTB in their respective areas.


A couple of thoughts I have is that historically, around Halifax, builders just found empty stretches of woods, and built trail. I guess people didn’t really care what went on in the woods.

I remember years ago, dropping in at Bikeworks in Saint John, and asking, “Where do people mountain bike around here.” The answer was, “Rockwood Park… and there’s some trail by RCS-Netherwood.” Two trail systems. Around Halifax, there were probably ten systems within a half-hour drive of my house - Whopper, Spider, Fight, Wrandees, Evil Birch, Area-51, Otter Lake, Across from Exhibition Park, Old Coach Road, Kearney Lake, Burnside, Pockwock, etc., not to mention the crusher dust trails. We’ve had an embarrassment of riches in terms of trails, so there wasn’t that much need to organize trail associations. With HRM development, we’ve lost Kearney Lake and Burnside, and soon to lose Whopper, and the powers that be are cracking down on trail building. Trail access is now more of an issue, and there’s more of a need to organize.

There are towns in NS that are much more supportive of mountain biking than Halifax, largely due to the work of Trailflow, I think. Kentville, Wolfville, and Windsor seem to be supportive, with the development of the Gorge, Burgher Hill, Reservoir Park, and Irishman’s Rd. Truro has allowed trail development in Victoria Park. Halifax is falling behind the times.

I think behind the development of each system, there has been a strong(?) trails association, such as the AVMBA at work. Perhaps its worth exploring how the successful trail organizations and trail systems came to be, to replicate those successes in Halifax.

But, Halifax is its own beast. There are those who have butted heads for years with organizations around Halifax to promote trails. Maybe those times are changing with Macintosh Run development, and the Long Lake governing body open to mountain biker input.

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Also has been my experience too. I just travelled for a week mountain biking in Ontario, Quebec and NB. Some of the best are in the smallest towns (Saint-Raymond). Bromont sucked btw. People in the scene in Montreal also complain of the same issues as us.

All those shops have access to legal trails on Municipal land or private land where they can get permission to hold events. I think it comes down to the size of the Municipalities like @Rolls was suggesting. Kings, Colchester and Antigonish have a much smaller populations than HRM it just seems easier to pitch an idea and get something done. I could be wrong but there also seems to be more mtb positive Councillors and Municipal staff in these places as well.

I was trying to think of all the major mtb events that have happened within HRM in the last 25 years I couldn’t come up with much:

Race at Kearney Lake
MTB Race at Jimmy’s Roundtop
Jack’s Lake Provincial MTB race
Dollar Lake Provincial MTB race
Slickrock short track series, Shearwater
Bike People short track series, Shearwater
Cyclesmith short track series

Scout new areas, build new trails

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On land we do not have legal access to and you end up with the same old problems. I have spent years working on trails only to see them clearcut or bulldozed over in a single day.

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In actual downtown Montreal there are “secret” trails all over Mont Royal. Doesn’t help you now, but they exist.

Without getting into a chicken or the egg debate, the only places that aren’t going to be demolished are provincial parks and wilderness protected areas. Municipal land isn’t really safe, HRM seems to like to sell or lease it off to develop big box stores. Even with permission on private land there isn’t a guarantee that in the future access won’t be revoked. That being said I think the future for good trails in HRM is through agreements with private land owners.

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What about power lines, surely there’s room for singletrack somewhere around the edges. Little less glamorous, but who cares.

Jeff, used to have that in Halifax too. The edges of the trail cut.

I agree. Although it takes a lot longer to get straightened out, legal access is the only true way a trail will have a long and happy life.

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This is a timely discussion in the light of the MRWA call for volunteers.

Agreed. I hope this sets an example to show Halifax the potential we have in the mountain bike community.