John Courtney found Wonderland 13 years ago.
The trail was in disrepair at the time, he said, built by high school kids who had grown up, graduated and went off to do other things.
“I heard rumours about it and I came out here,” Courtney told the Quesnel Cariboo Observer. “I found it and it was a mess, so I went out and bought a chainsaw and started clearing out the blow down.”
He went on to build the Flying Monkeys trail in the Wonderland riding area, off Quesnel Hydraulic Road, and to become the president of the Gold Rush Cycling Club. Chris Klapatiuk, a member of the club who lives at the top of Wonderland, built the What the Huck Climb.
Ian Van Leusden, trail co-ordinator for the City of Quesnel, built the black-diamond-rated Mosster.
The network has long been a labour of love, done by club volunteers, with planning and permitting processes to do more coming together “massively” this summer.
In January of last year, the club reached an agreement with BC Parks that allows them to maintain and manage existing trails on Dragon Mountain, and “hopefully be able to do more development to create sustainable mountain bike trails for all,” said club secretary Esther Platts.
On June 18, the club reached a similar agreement with Recreation Sites and Trails BC, but for existing trails on Wonderland.
This summer, volunteers were able to get shovels in the ground.
“It’s been a good five-year road with BC Parks and about three years [at Wonderland] that as a club we’ve been working on bringing all of this together,” Courtney told the Observer on Tuesday, in between trips up and down What the Huck, packing 14-foot planks of rough-cut wood donated by West Fraser to build a bridge for a new section of ride-around.
“We knew last year that this year was going to be huge so I think a lot of us planned, it’s going to be all hands on deck this summer.”
So far, volunteers have logged more than 700 hours, working to update existing trails to the Whistler Bike Park standard, building ride-arounds and bridges, and removing dangerous structures.
On Dragon Mountain, volunteers have built seven new bridges on the existing Rockasaurus trail alone.
“We hope in the future it will allow us to do further mountain bike development,” Platts said.
While the club has added directional signage to existing trails on Wonderland, they have yet to do so on Dragon Mountain, and Platts said signs for technical trail features are also still “in the pipeline.”
Courtney said he expects all planned work, including the addition of the signs, will be completed before the end of the year. The only thing “up in the air,” he said, is the gravel parking lot planned for Dragon Mountain.
“There’s a place to park, but we want to get it properly gravelled,” he said, adding that they are canvassing local gravel pits for in-kind donations.
The club is also still looking for volunteers to help at the remaining maintenance meetups, on Sept. 10, 14 and 24. Contact the club at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Club members were eager to give an update on the addition of new trails to Wonderland and Dragon Mountain, which is being done by contractor First Journey Trails with Rural Dividend Program grant funding secured by the City of Quesnel and the Cariboo Regional District in January 2018.
As of Tuesday, Courtney and Platts said two new trails on Wonderland were complete, Angry Beaver and Sluice Box.
In fact, Platts said she had ridden down Sluice Box earlier that morning, “which was really fun.”
|Gold Rush Cycling Club member Erin Gagne rides over a bridge on the new Sluice Box trail, completed by contractor First Journey Trails on the Wonderland network in summer 2019. Gold Rush Cycling Club photo|
Barkerville Brewing Co. purchased a heavy-duty saw to help build a new flow trail on Wonderland, named after one of the brewery’s beers, Mucho Oro, but Platts said a couple bridges still need to be added before that wide ride is complete.
The general manager of the brewery, Justine Pelletier, told the Observer they plan to expand their relationship with the club in the future by installing a bike washing station and a secure bike rack outside their establishment.
Woodbury’s Way, the new trail on Wonderland named in honour of a former Quesnel trail rider, is also still under construction.
The new eight-and-a-half-kilometre trail on Dragon Mountain is almost complete, Courtney and Platts said, except for the last kilometre at the top.