Riders in the men's elite category line up for the start of their Island Cup Series cross-country race at Mt. Work Hartland Regional Park. The Harbourview lands in Sooke may one day become popular as a racing site.

Harbourview Road trails in Sooke a boon for mountain biking

Newly developed system will take pressure off Mount Work/Hartland trails in Saanich

Vancouver Island is home to some of the best mountain biking in the world. While some of the Island’s best trails are north of Victoria, the south Island is keeping pace as a hotspot.

It’s never going to be Comox or Cumberland, known for some of the best trail riding in B.C. and beyond, but Greater Victoria offers more than enough options to keep serious riders content between destination trips elsewhere.

Key to that is the addition of the Harbourview Road trail system in Sooke. It’s a major coup for the growing number of Victoria riders and gives another option, with 100,000 visitors already hitting the established Hartland/Mount Work trail system each year.

But the Capital Regional District isn’t keen on greenlighting Harbourview quite yet, as it’s not officially open. Meanwhile the South Island Mountain Biking Society (SIMBS) is doing its best to keep Harbourview from becoming another Broome Hill.

Just down the road in Sooke, Broome Hill once offered multiple trails and built-up features. But it was taken apart and decommissioned by landowners.

Riding is already happening at Harbourview on a basic network of trails, with endless possibilities for more. The plot is part of the massive Sea to Sea Green-Blue Belt. But it will require more work, not to mention permission to do so.

The society has done wonders for the local scene, with monthly work parties at Hartland to ensure its sustainability. They’re also big proponents of the North Saanich Free Ride Park, with pump tracks and features ranging from beginner to expert.

When new trails are created at Hartland, SIMBS usually does so with the Capital Regional District on board. Sometimes there’s even a backhoe sent out to help get things going.

The CRD has not permitted SIMBS or the Sooke Bike Club to perform any trail maintenance at Harbourview and there’s conflicting views from other user groups.

But it’s all in the works, with SIMBS and the SBC advocating for trail usage.

Right now the model for creating trails on the Island is the United Riders of Cumberland.

They’ve purchased land from forestry companies to keep the trails going and have strong communication with foresters, making it a provincewide destination just a few hours away.

sports@vicnews.com

Where to ride

The top sites in Greater Victoria are the Hartland/Mount Work cross country trail system in Saanich, the pre-eminent spot, and the jump features of the North Saanich Free Ride Park. The yet-to-open Harbourview Road trail system is in Sooke.

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