After a summer and fall of inaction ESRD has finally begun the construction of a new start to Elbow Trail/Fullerton Loop. A piece of yellow tape between 2 trees to the right of Ranger Creek Road (the road opposite Allen Bill Pond) indicates the start of the new Elbow trail, a four metre-wide ski trail. After crossing Ranger Creek on an unfinished bridge the trail climbs steadily to the bank top, then winds through forest to the fence line above the river.
After following the fence line a way, the new trail makes a sharp right turn toward the Elbow River down a steep hill exposed to several hours of sunlight during the middle of the day and angled so as to maximize melting by the low winter sun. To make things more interesting for skiers of moderate ability, the hill steepens just before the very sharp bend at the bottom, which is banked the wrong way. If you weigh less than 200 lbs and are not going too fast a short section of snow fence at the bottom might prevent an icy plunge into the fast flowing Elbow River.
This poorly conceived section of trail need not have been built if ESRD had negotiated a better solution with the grazing leaseholder regarding where the gap in the fence should be. During the summer and fall, hikers and bikers were using a line that cut across from the sharp righthand bend, passing through the same drift fence and ending up at the foot of the hill just below the Elbow/Fullerton Junction.
The best solution for everyone would be:
- Improve the line of the more direct trail down to and across the little creek for summer hiking, winter walking and snowshoeing. Put a kissing gate in the fence—same as the ones on Fullerton Loop, and a small opening gate for mountain bikers. This would keep summer traffic away from the wet, muddy flats down by the river and do away with the need for extensive channeling of the little creek.
- Sign the ski trail loop for winter use only and close and lock the gate at the bottom in summer. The grazing leaseholder would still only have one gate in use during the grazing season.
- Re-configure the steep downhill to make it safer and easier for family skiers of moderate ability who are the primary users of the trails from the Allen Bill Pond end.