Don Harris of Cold Lake’s Speed Demons XC club takes a ride on one of the bike trails.
After being in the works the last few years, construction will soon begin on Cold Lake’s all-skills mountain bike park.
The park was first proposed to city council in fall 2016 by members of Speed Demons XC, the city’s local mountain biking club, led by Kierra Harris.
“I would travel across western Canada going to different mountain bike events with my Dad [Don Harris] and I realized that Cold Lake could really benefit from a bike park,” said Harris.
City council confirmed between $50,000-$200,000 in funding in the fall of 2019 which would leave the rest to park designer Jay Hoots.
Hoots is a well established designer and contractor that has built parks across the country. Plans for Cold Lake’s park include various jumps, skill tests, and trails which will be designed for young and old of differing skill levels to enjoy.
Hoots and Don Harris got started with surveying the land for ideal bike trails, but before ground could be broken COVID-19 swept across Canada.
Although construction of the park has remained at a stand-still since, Harris has managed to get five kilometres of trials on Radar Hill built, thanks to the help of volunteers and sponsors, with more on the way.
“B&R Eckels donated some money which allowed us to buy a packer, and that’s been a real big help with getting some work done,” said Harris. “Glenn Barnes [Cold Lake general manager for community services] has also gone up and above for us in support of the park, so we’re very thankful to him.”
The park is planned to be built in four phases (it’s currently in it’s first) and will be available to use year round with current plans for wintertime including snowshoeing and cross country skiing, as well as ‘fat biking’ which are bicycles with larger tires that allow them to be ridden in the snow.
Amenities designed to compliment the Cold Lake museum are also being implemented, such as picnic area, an area for bikes to be locked in, and a larger parking lot at the bottom of radar hill.
The park, as well as the museum’s proposed viewing tower, is part of a larger effort to attract more tourism to the area.
In its current state, the trails regularly attract anywhere between 60 to 90 people a day, and while most of them are lacking proper signage, Harris says off-road motorists are being respectful.
“We’ve had a few people on the trails with quads and sleds, of course, but it’s not the norm. They’ve been really good about staying off, and the odd time someone comes across them, it’s usually just that they didn’t know they weren’t allowed,” said Harris.
Hoots is set to return to Cold Lake July 1st. He and a five-man crew will get to work on the park, and they’ll likely be looking for volunteers once they map out a safety plan.