Volunteer groomer expresses frustration

“Almost all of the trails we skied had been badly mutilated by walkers and ‘snowshoers’ who mindlessly walk down the middle of the ski trails.” – Andrew

“Walkers, and now snowshoers, have been a problem on the Bragg ski trails for decades now.
You would think that they would know better, but…
It is even more annoying now that there is an excellent network of all season trails spreading out from the same parking lot that are actually better for hiking than the ski trails.” -Steve

West Bragg Creek is a lightning rod for controversy over how the trails should be used. After comments from Alf, Andrew, and Steve, (starting with Alf Skrastins November 11, 2013 at 10:21 pm  http://skierbob.ca/trip-reports-oct-nov-2013/) this one came in today. It’s even more relevant after the article I posted about how hard the groomers work on preparing the trails. The comment from DNA underscores the requirement for more clearly defined trail use rules at West Bragg:

West Bragg Creek

West Bragg Creek (file photo)

“I am one of the volunteer groomers for the West Bragg Creek ski trails. It is hugely frustrating that we lay beautiful tracks and corduroy only to predictably have our work destroyed in short order by walkers, snowshoers, bikers, oblivious individuals.

West Bragg Creek

West Bragg Creek (file photo)

We have always been told that K country’s multi-use designation meant that all user groups should be allowed access to all trails. My view is that officially designating ( with signage) specific uses for specific trails is urgently needed in WBC and would not represent a breach of multi – use for the greater area. This would in fact address significant safety issues that arise currently as well as enhancing the experience for all user groups. Attempts at educating people to “know better” have proven ineffective.”

West Bragg Creek trails were trackset yesterday(file photo)

West Bragg Creek trails after heavy use (file photo)

Remember to donate to the Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association, who volunteer to trackset the trails.  Go to http://www.braggcreekski.org.

Here’s a neat aerial video of the Canmore Nordic Centre, courtesy of Tony Smith:

Canmore Nordic Centre Nov 14-Display from Tony Smith on Vimeo.


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  1. more clear and large signs at each intersection/entry point to the trail network are needed, small print on the map “please do not ….” won’t do,

  2. Victims of our own success at grooming attractive trails! Most trails are on pubic land, and are not restricted to one use. To expect ‘common’ sense to apply is only a fools game. Our experience at Emerald Lake was frustrating for a long time, until we started making signs to post along strategic points on the trail, with a picture [2 lines in the snow with pole dots] of the track, and foot prints or snowshoe prints, or both to the sides, and words like “Please walk and snowshoe on the sides.” We also try to groom a bit extra width to give them enough space, and ask them to contribute. We have had great success with this approach. Skaters are a different breed, generally out more for the workout, and a bit less for the esthetics [oops now i’m in trouble]. The skaters physical need for energy pushes some over the edge sometimes. Another approach I’m starting to consider is to outing these few inconsiderate people, is to take their picture and post it on a x-c ski blog!

  3. ” people walking , people snow shoeing , dogs running and crapping on the ski trails ” ; what did you think with a city of 1.2 million just a 1/2 hr drive from the trailhead and wanting to enjoy the great outdoors . Then with all this online posting telling everyone the trails are groomed and trackset , well hello here comes the crowd . I was born in Calgary and have been skiing west bragg creek/k-country since 1975 and back in them olden days only hardy souls with a passion liked getting after it on the misery sticks , grooming was what you did before going on a date ha ha ; imho everything is going in the dumper since the “sport ” of skiing is sissified (I made this word up) to the point you only need marginal skill and fitness to partake in sort of like the thrilling sport of golf .

  4. Most of the damage that I see done to the WBC trails is from skate skiers trying to skate in the space between the tracks. Every time I am out, I see several groups of people obliviously pushing across both lanes of trackset. By comparrison, I seldom see snowshoers, hikers or bikes on the trackset.
    While traditional mountain bikes leave a deep rut in most snow, fat-tired snow bikes actually leave the trail smoother with their wide, low-pressure, continuous track.
    I really enjoy skiing the groomed trails at WBC and I do not hike, snowshoe, bike or skate ski on the trackset, but I think we need to look within the ski community before we try to pin the blame for grooming destruction on other groups.

  5. Agree that in an ideal world there would be seperate trails for walking vs. skiing. And I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to be a trail groomer. Sadly, there will always be people who don’t read signs, feel they are “unique” and above the rules, or are just clueless to protocol when it comes to ski trails. Same thing happens at Kananaskis Village and on the Ribbon Creek trails.

    In the defense of one particular group who needs to use the wide groomed trails for walking, if you are snowshoeing with young kids and pulling a sled, you can’t use the narrow trails through the trees. (Not to say we should have the right to ignore signs, but there are reasons to justify multi-use trails.)

  6. Further clarification. The signage related to ski trails groomed from Dec 1 to March 31 only relates to equestrian, which is covered under the Forestry Act. Also, remember that this is on Forestry Land, and as such, is multi-use. Our primary goal here is fun for everyone, and we can hopefully all get along with some education and understanding.

    Final thought is that if you don’t like the way the land is managed out here, then you should go to one of the South Saskatchewan River Plan draft plan input meetings or provide feedback through the workbook on-line. Provide the government with your opinion on how you would like this area managed. Do you want it to be a Provincial Park under Parks management? Do you want business as usual under ESRD Forestry Act? The feedback to the SSRP is likely your last chance on how this land will be managed for the next generation or two.

  7. re. Tony Smith’s amazing aerial videography.

    I think that this has the potential to open up nordic skiing and mountain biking regarding video coverage.

    In a long nordic race, skiers would enter the forest and you wouldn’t see them again for a long time, depending on the length of the loop. Or how about a long canoe race, like the 9 or 10 hour General Clinton canoe regatta?

    Now, we potentially could cover any race, within the limits of the range of these aerial drones.

    We had Chris Bacik of SkyEyeMedia bring his eight prop ‘octocopter’ to our building for the shooting of a promo video.

    The sky is the limit !

  8. Remember to donate to the Greater Bragg Creek Trails Association, who volunteer to trackset the trails here. Go to http://www.braggcreekski.org.

  9. I run the volunteer tracksetting at west Bragg Creek, and understand frustrations from all sides. Education is the key here, as there is little in legislation or enforcement that can be done to keep people off ski trails. This year, we are working with Parks and ESRD to more clearly direct walkers, hikers, bikers and snowshoers to All-Season Trails so that the ski trails are primarily used by skiers. It is ironic that the more we groom, the more complaints we get from skiers. Remember what it was like here 8 years ago?

  10. Just for clarification, contained within a small box on what really are terrific maps it states: “Please do not walk, snowshoe or bike on groomed ski tracks.”
    First, I think many people might miss the small print – ie I would argue that it’s not really that clearly stated.
    Second , the word “tracks” suggests that it might be OK to walk, snowshoe, bike in the middle as long as people stay off the tracks. This is a problem because the tracks are frequently not avoided and further the sometimes deep ruts and holes created by non skiers do I feel represent a safety risk on fast downhill sections where skiers are stepping out of the tracks to control their speed. It is also a problem for the growing number of skate skiers in WBC who skate down the middle.
    Seems to me we can do better……

  11. I believe there are signs at the West Bragg parking lot indicating that the trails are for XC use exclusively only between Dec 1 – Mar 31. Also there have not been any machine groomed tracks set this fall – it’s hard to ask people to not walk on skier set tracks. If I see walkers stomping on the machine set tracks I will stop and (very politely) ask them to please be more considerate. I find that the foot traffic typically doesn’t venture too far anyways, but , other than more explicit signage I don’t see there’s a lot can be done .

  12. People do not respect the amount of work and energy that go into grooming the trails for skiing and could go anywhere to walk etc, but there is very limited areas where we can ski. I learned when I was grooming in Calgary that it isn’t even worth trying to educate people as they become aggressive and abusive when you try. The main issue is there is no ski culture here. I myself rarely ski at WBC because of the above reason.

    • Yes it is frustrating out here. This point about lack of a strong ski culture in Bragg Creek is, however, rapidly changing. XC Bragg Creek has over 60 Bunnies and Jackrabbits enrolled in this season’s ski programs. The club is also working on instituting an adult ski technique program. Hopefully all of this interest in “skinny skiing ” will bring with it a new perspective on trail use.

  13. The latest West Bragg Creek trail maps, which are posted at every intersection are pretty clear about identifying XC ski trails as well as all-season/all user trails. A few trails, such as Mountain Road, Telephone Loop East and the west half of Hostel Loop are shared use trails (XC ski plus all other users), in order to complete connections between other parts of the trail network.
    Each map clearly says “Please do not walk, snowshoe or mountain bike on groomed XC Ski Trails”.
    It is frustrating for all of those involved in planning, designing, fundraising hundreds of thousands of dollars, and building about 45km of new all-season trails for hikers, mountain bikers and snowshoers to still find so many people ignoring the signage and common decency by blundering along and destroying the groomed ski trails.

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