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Anatomy of a Trail Closure

May 29, 2014

The Monday night Crothers Woods Stewardship group, made up of volunteers from a wide background of trail users, completed a fairly significant trail closure this week that saw an unsustainable ‘social’ fall line trail closed and significant remediation done.  The ‘social’ trail was created as a result of a combination of problems, one of which, being a rock feature that some may have deemed too advanced for climbing riders/ walkers when wet or, in the case of this winter, covered in snow and ice.  The result was users created a short cut to circumvent the problem.  The problem with this, beside being an eyesore, was that it created an unsustainable fall line trail that overtime would see severe eroding and the formation of a large gully.

The solution, TORBA along with the IMBA, City of Toronto and Alpine Bike Park created a reroute around the rock feature offering a option around the rock feature.  The reroute offers a mellower grade and no rock armouring.  With the original problem fixed due to the reroute the unsustainable fall line trail could now be closed.

The Stewardship group, under the guidance of IMBA and Alpine Bike Parks, set out to close the trail by first fencing off the entrance and exit to the fall line.  This would be a clear indication to trail users that the trail was now off limits.  Next was the more labour intensive part where the trail had to be ‘broken’ up with a Pulaski due to the compaction that had occurred.  By breaking up the soil it would give seeds and new plants the ability to take root in the soil to begin the regeneration process.  It would also slow down water that would otherwise rush down the slope causing further damage.  With the tread broken up the next step was to lay down fallen logs across the old trail to form ‘check dams’ to again slow down water and also trap organic materials.  Trapping organic material behind these dams would in effect create terraces that over time would fill with rich soil (from composted organics) perfect for new plants to grow.  Lastly, we covered the broken up tread with leaves to camouflage the area and begin the process of organics collection in the check dams.


Above is a before and after shot of the trail that was closed.


While working on the closure it was interesting to see how many people were in fact using the fall line trail instead of the ‘proper’ trail.  It was a great in the moment opportunity to explain what was happening, why it was happening and how we were making it happen.  Once people understood the situation they were glad for the closure and in some cases ashamed for their actions, even though admittedly they didn’t previously now the effects of their actions.

It was amazing to see with only two hours work and about 7 volunteers how much work we accomplished and the good feeling of knowing we had given the forest a little love.

Next time you see the Stewardship Crew on the trail stop by and give them a high-five or  better yet lend a quick hand.  They are doing great things for the benefit of all trail users.

If you are interested in joining the Stewardship Program find the information on the flyer linked here.


Jeremy was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario. He cut his teeth learning to ride the trails on the ‘Hamilton Mountain’ as well as the Dundas Valley, later honing his ‘skills’ riding in the Waterdown area. While his true passion is riding dirt single track, reality, family and work, have introduced him to road riding, albeit on a cyclocross bike – just in case there is any dirt around! When not on two wheels Jeremy enjoys skiing, brewing beer and wilderness camping. He currently lives in Toronto with his wife and kids.


  1. Part of the evolution of trails and so important to make our sport sustainable.

  2. Well done Trail Stewards!

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