One of the best ways to experience Peterborough’s natural beauty is from the trail. Whether you like a good challenge, or prefer a leisurely stroll, our backyard is loaded with trail options for anyone who wants to get outdoors. And who do we have to thank for that? In large part, the folks over at Peterborough Trailbuilders Association.
WHO ARE THESE FANTASTIC HUMANS?
The PTA is “a volunteer run, not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing and maintaining single-track, natural surface trails in and around Peterborough, Ontario, for non-motorized use.” These locals volunteer their time to build and maintain trails with the mission to make Peterborough a more active community. With their hard work more people are encouraged to stay active and explore nature. Yeah, they’re pretty rad.
BUT WAIT, WHAT EXACTLY DO THEY DO?
Building a trail is a whole lot more complicated than picking up a shovel and going to town. Trailbuilders use their vision, creativity, experience and a whole lot of hard work to create the trails we ride. It starts with the planning stage - determining the route and having all the necessary paperwork approved. From there, the trailbuilders will walk the route and mark it with brightly coloured flags. Then, using a combination of experience and intuition for what makes a good trail, the team starts cutting from flag to flag and wielding hand tools to spice up the route and make sure it rides the way they want. The skill of visualizing what a trail will look like is what differentiates trail building from just digging dirt.
WHERE HAVE THEY MADE THEIR MARK?
Harold Town Conservation Area is one example of the difference the PTA has made in the Peterborough area. After being donated by the estate of Harold Town in 1994, the conservation area has been loved by hundreds of cyclists, hikers, trail runners, dog walkers, equestrians, skiers, and geocachers year after year. It’s a mountain biker’s playground, offering steep hills, switchbacks, and log hops for a more technical challenge. That said, with fourteen trails total, there is something for every type of user.
The PTA partnered with ORCA (Otonabee Region Conservation Authority), the owners of the property, to ‘carry the torch’ passed on by the trailbuilders before them who have done a mammoth amount of work to the trail system. On an ongoing basis the PTA meet once a month to build and maintain, ensuring that the Harold Town trails stay in great shape.
HOW CAN YOU SUPPORT THE TRAILBUILDERS?
There are tons of ways you can keep the trailbuilders happy when you’re on the trails. For one, pick up after yourselves and others. No one wants to see garbage left in nature, so if you see litter on the trail, pick it up and pack it out. That goes for obstacles as well! Don’t leave a trail blocked, help by stopping and clearing the trail. Or if you’re unable to clear it, be sure to report it to the PTA so it can be dealt with for the safety of others.
Or join and dig in! It can take a lot of time to build even a small feature, but more hands and the right resources make for lighter work. To learn more about joining the PTA visit www.ptbotrailbuilders.com/membership.
Above all else, the best way you can support the trailbuilders is by going out and playing! Need a trail map? Find it here.