New Start to Elbow/Fullerton Trails

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.

The first hill

The initial easy climb to the bank top

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.

The steep downhill

The steep downhill to the right-angle bend above the river.

The steep downhill

The counter-banked right-angle bend.

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.
4 comments… add one
  • Gillean Daffern Dec 30, 2013, 5:39 pm

    It was noticeable that snowshoers and winter walkers were taking the direct route. Perhaps a good thing to separate them out from the skiers? Anyway, a gap has reappeared in the fence, courtesy of Who Knows Who. Some snowshoers bound for Fullerton Loop were taking the third option, which from the gap follows the far side of the fence up the hill, then turns right onto a flat old track that brings you out on Fullerton between the first bridge and the loop junction. The advantage to this is that there is no creek crossing.

  • Alf Skrastins Dec 25, 2013, 12:30 am

    I agree that the “direct route” is a better alignment for the trail re-route and I believe that it would be a good summer AND winter route, with a bit of trail sculpting and a bridge across the little creek.
    I would suggest using a trail-width cattle guard, rather than any type of gate. Gates can be left open, but cattle guards just work all the time. During the winter season, a rubber matt across the grates would allow snow to accumulate, so that the trail could be groomed for skiing.
    One problem with the new alignment as currently constructed, is that it gets very close to the new unstable bank of the Elbow River. The next flood will surely undercut this bank and force yet another re-route.
    Why not just build a long-term, sustainable trail in the first place?

  • Bob Truman Dec 24, 2013, 11:08 pm

    An even better solution would be to get rid of the cows altogether. Then the fences could go. The cows wouldn’t be polluting the streams. It’s ridiculous to have grazing in this heavily-used recreational area with cow manure all over the place.

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