Bike trails bring new traffic to former Saint John ski hill

A former skill hill in Saint John’s Rockwood Park is now home to a couple new mountain bike trails, with more on the way.

The Saint John Cycling Club has finished the first phase of its Enduro Park project.

The new trails are meant to complement the 56 kilometres of biking routes already in the park. Phase two of the project should be complete in about a year.

"There’s been a lot of cycling in Rockwood Park since the 90s and a lot of that stuff is old school technical mountain biking that tends to have a lot of peddling, a lot of up and down, and a lot of technical features," says Greg Bosence, club president.

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The two new trails add two kilometres of cycling pathways to the park, starting at a higher elevation.

"It’s kind of downhill flow trail, people can go fairly fast and not peddle a whole lot, until they get to the bottom," said Dean Rice, club vice-president.

"It’s not a pure downhill, it’s more of an all-around mountain bike trail where there’s a little bit of ups and downs but there’s lots of flowy sections where you gain a lot of speed."

The club has raised over $200,000 to date for the project, along with securing funding support from the municipality and corporate donors.

A combination of bad weather and COVID-19 restrictions turned the one-year project into a two-year endeavour.

"But we still got it done in the middle of a COVID pandemic, which is kind of a small miracle in itself, " says Price.

Local art will be featured alongside the new trails, along with a planned homage to the area’s skiing history.

The foundation of where the old ski hill’s tee-bar used to operate (from 1957 to 1985) will be included in the tribute.

The club is also seeking new names for the trails, with the idea of following a rock music theme in the same vein as Rockwood Park.

The new trails have only been open a few days, but dozens of people have already been eager to give them a spin.

"It’s totally beautiful," says Magdalena Quiriom. "This is exactly what we were missing at Rockwood Park."

The sport has been increasing in popularity around the area, creating momentum for the new trails being built.

"It’s been growing exponentially, especially since the pandemic of course," says Kimberly Burry, who was on the trails Wednesday night.

"Everybody has been getting involved with biking and being outside more."