Thunder Bay's revitalized mountain bike trails could be a tourist draw
Plan to expand trails in Thunder Bay's north end to improve access to site
Plans underway to revitalize a network of trails for mountain biking in Thunder Bay's north end could see the area become more attractive to out-of-town riders and competitions.
That's according to Thunder Bay tourism officials and Jeremy Goth, a member of the Blacksheep Mountain Bike Club, a group that's been working with the city on the maintenance and future planning of the trails in the Trowbridge Falls area.
"Once you have a trail system that is appealing to the general public, that's an obvious draw for tourists as they're coming through the area," Goth told CBC News.
Consultants hired by the city are preparing a planning document that's expected to set out how the trails could be improved in the future and how much it could cost, Goth said, adding that traditionally, volunteers with the club have done maintenance in more of an ad hoc way.
"Up until this point, we've been biting off bits of trail work and maintenance that we saw as priorities but now we'll have a bigger vision to focus on," he said.
It includes plans to bring the trails up to modern, internationally recognized standards and would also designate specific routes as suitable for beginner, intermediate and expert riders, in much the same way ski areas do.
Improving access to the site itself — located around the old Shuniah Mines — is also expected, with access from Trowbridge Falls park and Balsam Street in the plans, Goth said.
"Right now, it's kind of isolated and difficult to get to and not very user-friendly for families and beginner riders," he added.
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The opportunity to increase the network's popularity, not just to locals, but to people outside the Thunder Bay area is also appealing, said city tourism manager, Paul Pepe.
Pepe pointed to communities in Minnesota and Michigan that have done just that.
"We have the raw ingredients to be able to do much of the same," he said. "Cycling, overall, is growing in popularity."
Highlighting the trails will also help the local riding community, Goth added.
"Once you see some big races coming through it gets the younger generation excited about cycling," he said.
"It's great to see these other athletes coming in from out-of-town and generally builds a positive feel to the local cycling community and helps improve and increase our numbers."