North·Photos

First Nation teens find jobs, adrenaline-pumping fun on Yukon mountain bike trail

The CBC's David Common visits Carcross/Tagish First Nation in Yukon Territory, where teens have found both work and adrenaline-fuelled fun by turning traditional hunting paths into world-renowned mountain biking trails.

'It's given them hope. It's given them pride in what they do,' says Carcross/Tagish First Nation chief

Teens Develop World-Class Mountain Bike Trails in Yukon

6 years ago
Duration 3:14
First Nations teens in the Yukon have taken traditional hunting paths and turned them into acclaimed mountain bike trails.

When one of Yukon's most picturesque communities went looking for economic opportunity, they found it on the mountain. 

Carcross/Tagish First Nation has taken traditional hunting paths that have been around for centuries and turned them into what Outside magazine describes as the best mountain biking trail in the world. 

Teens from the First Nation build, maintain and use the trails, giving them both employment and recreation in a remote area with limited options. 

The trails are part of a larger push in the community to draw in tourists, who are arriving by the busload. 

(David Common/CBC)
The First Nation has built Carcross Commons, a group of small shops geared to tourists, offering everything from high-end coffee to traditional art.
As for the trails themselves, bikers ride over obstacles on the way down the mountain.
Working on the trails, as well as enjoying the adrenaline-fuelled adventure of riding them, has helped teens combat social issues in the community including drug and alcohol abuse.

"It's made a remarkable change," says Carcross/Taglish First Nation Chief Andy Carvill. "It's given them hope. It's given them pride in what they do."

Drugs and alcohol took 16-year-old Jade McLoud's brother away from him a couple of years ago. He says the trail gives him purpose in life.

Jade says the teens built the trail mostly by hand, without machines. 

It took years of work, including removing large rocks and overgrown trees, to develop the extensive trail system. But the effort is paying off for the young people of Carcross/Tagish First Nation, as well as the riders who come from across Canada and the U.S. to one of the best mountain bike trails they can find.   

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Common covers a wide range of stories for CBC News, from war to disrupting scams. He is a host with the investigative consumer affairs program Marketplace, and a correspondent with The National. David has travelled to more than 85 countries for his work, has lived in cities across Canada, and been based as a foreign correspondent in the U.S. and Europe. He has won a number of awards, but a big career highlight remains an interview with Elmo. You can reach David at david.common@cbc.ca, Twitter: @davidcommon.

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