SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - While some stash their bikes away for winter, a recent trend has gained traction in Summerside and it had outdoor enthusiasts flocking to the Rotary Friendship Park on a recent Saturday morning to explore the new trails that blend in with the scenic, wooded landscape.
“The Rotary Park is a series of trails in the heart of our city, so there are a handful of beginner trails that are great for biking, walking and hiking, and then there are a few more trails that are a little more defined and difficult,” said J.P. Desrosiers, Summerside’s director of community services.
P.E.I. Tourism Minister Chris Palmer, trail builder Albert Flavell of Parks P.E.I., Desrosiers and Trent Williams from the City of Summerside recently officially opened three new trails in the Rotary Park, located near Prince County Hospital.
The planned ribbon-cutting ceremony was postponed due to an impending winter storm.
“In partnership with minister Chris Palmer and P.E.I.’s Department of Tourism and Economic Development, we were given funding ($23,000) to allow us to put these trails in place,” explained Desrosiers.
“For this project, we added another 1.5 to 2 kilometres of additional trails that are designed primarily for mountain biking and fat-tire biking (typical trappings of a normal bike, save for the oversized tires that allow for stable riding on snow).”
The trails that range from smooth to bumpy, and those with descents and climbs, can be used for a variety of outdoor pursuits, such as hiking, biking, walking and snowshoeing,.
“We want to get people out and active while utilizing our parks and green spaces as much as possible,” said Desrosiers. “And there’s been a new sort of resurgence in mountain biking and obviously more interest in fat-tire biking, so we want to give locals access to this in the city.”
Flavell says he built the trails to International Mountain Biking Association standards.
“One trail is in a hardwood section, and it’s the longest and beginner friendly. It has berms and rollers geared a little more for mountain bikers, but there’s nothing extreme, so everyone can enjoy it,” he said while noting the park is built on an old shale pit.
“For the most part, I had help from two city workers, and if I needed more hands the City of Summerside provided.”
Flavell will maintain all the trails in the park year-round, using equipment from Cycle P.E.I.
“I groom at night on the ‘Snowdog’ because no one is on the trails then, so that’s the best time for setting up. Plus, at night you get the moisture and cold, which actually hardens the trail once smoothed over.”
Around 30 fat-tire cyclists wove their way under the canopy of snow-coated trees and fresh-groomed trails.
“There was a season when I would put my bike away in the fall and take my skis out for the winter, but then I discovered fat-tire biking and realized it’s quite exciting. The conditions are always changing with the snow, along with the technical aspect,” said Flavell.
The city is gearing up for its Active Winter program, and Islanders are advised to check the Credit Union Place website for updates.