Mount Baldy’s Winter Trails

By Michelle McChristie

For Brandon Smith and Garth Kayes, the winter trails at Mount Baldy have been a labour of love. With the help of Colin Chaschuk from Chaschuk Enterprises Ltd., the pair has worked tirelessly to develop the trail system, which is nearing completion (when snow arrives!) for winter fat biking and snowshoeing. 

Trail development started in 2018 when Kayes—a forestry manager with Resolute—designed and flagged out the trails. He worked with Chaschuk Enterprises, a local forestry contractor, who harvested, removed, and processed the trees. “All fibre processed on site was trucked to the Thunder Bay pulp mill biomass power boilers,” explains Kayes. The power boilers generate heat for local mills and the energy for the local grid. They also had some help from Mount Baldy summer students. “It was nice working with local teenagers interested in learning our trail building craft,” says a grateful Kayes.

Since then, Kayes says their volunteer crew has grown considerably, with like-minded friends pitching in to assist with “trail clearing and new trail segment enhancements with a goal of providing epic trail fun for community members of all ages and abilities.” Fortunately, one of these friends is Juan Baztarica—a professional trail builder who works with local company Precambrian Natural Surface Trails. “His experience has benefited our trail building efforts further yet, offering a keen eye to improve the existing network and insightful plans for future development,” says Kayes with enthusiasm. 

A group ride at Mount Baldy

Kayes and Smith are using their own equipment to maintain the trails and their use is by donation. “Garth and I are kind of adventure junkies, so it just so happens that we have all the toys, quads, brush saws, hand tools, etc.,” explains Smith. “The owners [of Mount Baldy] have been more than generous to help us maintain breakdowns and fuel supplements, which the donations go directly towards.” It’s a bit of a throwback to his youth, having grown up in Current River and spent most winters snowboarding at Baldy. “My connection with this mountain brings me and my family a lot of joy during the cold, winter months. The sense of community keeps me social during winter’s isolation.”

Smith says the trails are “built to western mountain trails design, with direct climbs to weaving pedal-free descents.” Although the trails are unnamed, he and his sons have named a few segments in the Strava activity app—one of their favourites is affectionately known as The Grim Reaper. It’s an intermediate (blue) run about halfway down the mountain, on a skier’s right, that follows the new access trail. “It has a couple rowdy, steep sections,” Smith says. “It’s a blast to hit up on your way back to the chalet to warm up with friends and enjoy Mount Baldy’s awesome cuisine and bevvy menu.”

 If you’re interested in checking out the trails for fat biking or snowshoeing, Kayes suggests grabbing a free map from the chalet, adding that the trails also show up on mapping and navigation apps, like Google Maps, iPhone Maps, and Google Earth. Plans for a “kick-off to winter fat biking group ride event,” including a bonfire at the scenic lookout, are in the works to encourage newcomers to get out and enjoy the trails.

Ramsey Smith enjoying the winter trails

To keep tabs on trail developments, join the Mount Baldy Winter Trails group on Facebook. Trail users need to check-in at the chalet to obtain a pass, which is valid for 15% off fat bike rentals at Rollin’ Thunder and Fresh Air.