It is always gratifying to see some tangible results that can be correlated to the work myself and my partners have been doing over the past few years.
Several years ago the Superior Cycling Association came to me asking for some help in achieving a pretty lofty goal. They wanted to turn their community into a destination for off road cycling.
SCA had already been working hard on this task but was looking to take it to the next level. I worked with them on becoming a Chapter of IMBA and once they did we started using some of IMBA's resources to start knocking down hurdles that were standing in the way of their dreams.
First, SCA had an opportunity to capitalize on a program that the USFS had already taken advantage of. Namely a bunch of Boy Scouts that were coming to the Superior National Forest to build trails. SCA was already working to plan the off road cycling trails so the scouts could hit the ground running once they showed up. However being a resort community the members of SCA were overwhelmed with the task of running around the woods for a month to flag trail and keeping up with their real summer work. Plus they realized that there were opportunities that they might miss by not bringing in a professional eye.
So that said, I was able to grant them some IMBA Trail Building Fund money and bring in Stephen Mullins of IMBA Trail Solutions, who worked on laying out the Sugarbush system. In addition we organized a Trail Care Crew visit that helped educate the scout leaders and club members just prior to the Scout build. We were also able to utliize both of our connections with QBP who granted some funds to bring in IMBA Trail Solutions Trails Specialist Aaron Rogers. Not only did Aaron lay out a bunch of the trails for the Scouts at Pincushion, he also flagged out a solid amount of trails that the club is currently machine building. In addition I personally showed up at several community meetings and did an Economic Impact presentation at Lutsen Resort last winter.
The Boy Scouts came and went and did an amazing job and left around four miles of hand built trail on the ground in both locations (2 in Tofte and 2 in Pincushion). However there was still a lot left to hit. In Tofte the USFS and the Superior National Forest Tofte District leaders wanted to see more of the project done this summer. Because of the leadership of District Ranger John Wytanis Recreational Specialist Steve Schug and Cory Berg, they were able to make that happen and through funding from the USFS, SCA, the Township of Tofte and The Sugarbush Trail Association, finished two more phases of the project to bring the total mileage of trails at Tofte to 5. IMBA Trail Solutions, utilizing Ironwood Outdoors, built the final product.
Yesterday I was able to go and check out the fruits of the labors of these amazing partners. The trails are gorgeous. Big climbs, amazing views of the Temperance River Valley, miles of flowy trails through dense maple sugarbush and fun fast descents. It was great to find myself driving up the North Shore and seeing my bike on the back of the car versus my canoe and the experience that resulted was as qualtiy as my paddling trips. I can't wait to get back up there and sample the trails at Pincushion, which are advancing rapidly as well due to the efforts of the club, a purchased machine, and Adam Harju their go to trail builder in town.
This is a classic case of how working with IMBA can help clubs reap larger rewards and gain trail systems that they were struggling to gain on their own. It is also a case of a group of folks taking what IMBA has to offer and using that partnership to achieve their dreams.
IMBA can't do it all for you, but we can help aim you and your resources in the right direction and gain maximum results for your efforts and this is a classic success story based on that formula.
So thanks to all the people involved in creating awesome trails on Lake Superior's North Shore. SCA, USFS and the Tofte District, Sugarbush Trails Association, Tofte Township. Because of your hard work and dedication you have kick started a niche tourism industry in your region that has a lot of promise and room to grow in the future!
Lastly, check Superior Cycling Associations web site for info on their September 29th 2012 Grand Opening of the Tofte trails!