Regina Beach

Update - May 30, 2005

Small Lakeside Community Sets Big Example in Trail Building
by Donna Shire (IMBA* rep for Saskatchewan)

Photo one; two

On Saturday, May 14, 2005 the Village of Buena Vista, Saskatchewan, through the work of eager volunteers, transformed a neglected piece of Dobson park into a prime mountain biking trail.

Last fall Zlatan Fazlagic (another IMBA trained trail builder) and I met with Hank Heerspink, the Buena Vista coordinator foe the project. We walked through the property to determine the feasibility of a mountain bike trail. Though the area was not huge, we saw good potential for building some accessible trails. The terrain was tricky in spots but no more challenging than other areas in southern Saskatchewan where some of our best trails have been cut!

One cold and windy day at the end of April, Zlatan and I once again met Hank in Dobson Park. This time we were joined by Mike Bazinnet, experienced trail builder and president of South Sask. Mountain Bike Club. The four of us walked through the section of the park, marking and flagging exactly where the new trail would run. With the marking done ahead of time it is much easier to direct the workers on trail building day.

Trail building day (May 14) started bright and early at 8:30 a.m. Several of the young local mountain bikers were the first volunteers to arrive on the scene. As the morning progressed and the trail began to materialize out of the brushy hillside, the excitement and enthusiasm grew in direct proportion to the amount of trees we cut and the amount (tons and tons) of dirt we moved! The kids quickly understood the basic concepts: build trails that discourage erosion, work with the natural flow of the land and ensure that trails have more than one use. (The more people using trails means more people who have an interest in keeping them well maintained.)

At the time of this writing there was still some finishing work left to do, but essentially the trail is in use and being enjoyed by everyone. Buena Vista also plans to create a trail connecting Dobson Park to an existing trail that runs several kilometres along the lake and then joins with other mountain biking trails in the neighbouring community of Regina Beach.

The Buena Vista is to be commended for the initiative that they have shown with this project. They are providing the space and facility that encourages their youth to be physically active as well as involving them in constructive activities. At the same time they are turning their local park into a place that is appealing and accessible to everyone. Hopefully other lake side communities in Saskatchewan will follow Buena Vista’s example. By examining so-called ‘empty’ or ‘unusable’ space, there are many places where bike trails would be appropriate.

If you any questions about this of other trail projects, please contact Donna Shire at: dshire@sasktel.net or (306) 586-9090.

For learn more about IMBA*(International Mountain Biking Association), check out there web site at: www.imba.com

 

Background: The Regina Beach area is part of the much larger Last Mountain Lake system. Like many early towns, Regina Beach was connected to the rest of the world by rail. Over time the rail line was abandoned leaving behind an endless stretch of empty track space. This space has taken on many names such as the Trestle or the Last Mountain Trail, and offers hikers and cyclists some excellence backcountry journeys.

The best way to understand the layout is to think of Last Mountain Lake as a very large L-shaped lake. Essentially, the trail runs in an east to west orientation, following the base of the "L". In earlier days, a bridge stretching northward connected the western edge of the system with the other side of the lake.

Follow Centre Street to the lake where you can turn left, toward the western trails, or right, toward the eastern sections. The great benefit about Regina Beach is that you can combine both sections into a fantastic 40 kilometer loop.

To the east, riders can follow the trail through the hamlets of Buena Vista and Lumsden Beaches. The trail is well marked and has a few areas where riders must pass through cattle gates, don't startle cattle or any other animals! If cattle are all over the trail, avoid that section.

At about the 6 kilometer mark, riders will pass through the first several yellow cattle gates. At this point, you are nearing the start of "the hills". The turn-off to the hills is a short, steep climb to the right that is easy to miss. It takes you into the "common pasture" area that offers rolling single and double track, some long undulating climbs, the odd beaver dam crossing and some exciting descents. The area is very open and riders just follow the main trail to choose a feature that looks appealing.

Once you complete the common pasture, you can proceed further east on the trail to the end of the lake where marshland begins. You can explore lakefront trails and double track over rolling grasslands that twist in and out of ash, elm and poplar groves. Be sure to pay attention to "No Trespassing" markers. If you choose not to proceed further east after the common pasture, re-join the trail and go back to Regina Beach and then on toward the western section.

The western loop is also well marked. It stretches along the lakefront before riders have the choice of taking the road back or detouring off the main road at the first set of double track to ride the rear rim of the system. Like the eastern half, this section offers a number of trails that seem to emerge from nowhere. There are so many trails, in fact, that riders are constantly finding new routes.

The trails at Regina Beach offer many forested sections mixed with rolling prairie grasslands and twisting single track. At times, the system follows the lakefront, while at other times it stretches through dense coulees and Saskatoon berry patches. The great thing about the area is that you enjoy your ride and then take in all the sights and sounds of the beach. During the summer months the area can swell with beach-goers. The excitement of the trails is just a small feature of Regina Beach.

Difficulty: Beginner to Advanced - Recreational riders will enjoy the rolling hills and straight forward lakefront trail areas, while more avid riders will love the steep climbs and descends, the technical creek crossings and the almost non-stop feel that the whole system generates. The trail offers pleasant lakefront riding with little technical requirements. Offshoots of the main system can offer more demanding riding. A well-paced 40 kilometer ride at Regina Beach generally takes 2-3 hours. However, this does not mean that once riders embark on a journey, they are locked into an afternoon of cycling. The area resembles a subway system where riders can get on and off at any time they please. And when the weather is hot, the beach is just minutes away!

Directions: The town of Regina Beach is located on Highway 54 north, about 20 kilometers west of Highway 11. The trail system originates from the town itself so it is best if you start here.

What to Bring: The area is home to the odd patch of prickly pear cactus so riders should ensure their repair kits are in order and bring extra inner tubes. A basic first aid kit is also helpful. Some trails extend far into the back country, and it can be a very long walk back, so come prepared. Be sure to bring a snack or trail-mix for your break. If you forget to pack a lunch, you can visit one of the many stores. No matter what you bring with you, do not litter. In the spring and early summer, the area is notorious for wood ticks. White, shin-high socks are helpful in guarding against ticks. Mosquitoes can be a problem If it has been rainy so bring repellent.