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Are you paying for general trail access?

How much are you paying per year for non-lift assisted trail riding (including association memberships like NSMBA)?


0$
29.4%
0-50$
23.5%
50-100$
23.5%
100-250$
23.5%
250-500$
0%
more than 500$
0%
Total votes: 17
May 7, 2021, 6:45 p.m.
Posts: 90
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Hi all!

I'm just wondering if you guys on the North Shore are paying for trail access? If so, how much per ride/per year/per membership?

Here in Quebec, we have very few trails left with free access, otherwise it's all managed by trail centres who charge fees for each day out or a yearly pass. We're not talking lift-accessed riding here, only general trails. Fees range from 12$/day to 25$/day with taxes, or 180-250$/year per trail centre. We don't have any crown land left to build close to cities anymore, and all what's left is negotiated and picked up by those trail centres who do it "to help people go outdoors".

All of those (non profit) trail centres receive government grants to build and maintain trails, have volunteers who help and we still have to pay what I find are expensive fees to ride each time. This is enforced by gates, visitor centres and trail patrollers who check to validate if you have your day pass or membership. Having employees to maintain the visitor centres and manage the visitor fees is probably eating a good chunk of those entry fees, but we also have what I'd call luxury buildings to have a snack, bike rentals and go to the restrooms.

Keep in mind that we can only ride 5 months a year here and if we're going fat biking that's another different membership for another 150-200$ even if it's at the same trail centre.

Fees have grown around 20-33% at every place in the last few years, and it's not looking like it's going to plateau anytime soon. Velo Quebec, the province's biking organization says that it's how it works here and that won't change. I have spent many summers riding in Alberta, BC, Yukon and outside of a club membership of 20-50$, I haven't paid a daily entry fee to ride in any of those places.

Is it me being too cheap, too poor or is this getting pretty expensive per year? Please share your thoughts! Thanks!


 Last edited by: martin on May 7, 2021, 6:48 p.m., edited 1 time in total.
May 7, 2021, 7:29 p.m.
Posts: 402
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

From North Vancouver to Pemberton it’s all free. But we have trail associations that perform advocacy, trail building and maintenance, put on events, organize volunteers for trail work. I think membership is pretty high. I joined WORCA and SORCA because that is where I ride. $60 for each membership but I usually add a contribution for extra stuff. I get my t shirts and this year a special $300 membership with WORCA because I live here and appreciate all their work. We still have lots of crown land.

May 7, 2021, 7:48 p.m.
Posts: 90
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

That's the way I think it should be here too. I'd gladly support those where I ride and by a membership if it was that cheap. Hell I even bought some NSMBA merch this year since I feel like you guys have a pretty cool crowd.

Take the Quebec city area for example, there are 3 trails centres in a 40km radius. Each of them is on average 230$/year (so around 700$ per year) with 50-60km of trails each. A day pass is 20-25$. So let's say you buy one pass, you have to ride there every time if you want to keep it affordable, otherwise it adds up pretty quick to get some trail variety.

There are a few free trails around the city maintained by a local club and volunteers, which fund themselves by selling a bit of merch and accepting donations. But it's mostly hour rides and fun quick rides.

I try to get a year pass at a different place every other year to not get tired of riding the same trails, but like last year, this year I got my membership pass at a trail centre which is 1.5 hour away. It's the only place around where it can be a bit less crowded if I go late in the day. Add in a 250km return car drive each time and it gets expensive and tiring after a whole season.

May 7, 2021, 11:56 p.m.
Posts: 2289
Joined: April 2, 2005

i‘d gladly pay that much for trail centers. we have none of that. the state i live in has the so called 2m rule, any trail narrower than 2m is not allowed for bikes, unless specifically opened up for bikes. luckily the town i now live in has a huge mtb club and good standing with the forest management so there are now at least 5 official trails. you can still ride other trails, but you can get fined. in the states capital the police is often ticketing in the woods surrounding the city. they have just one official trail there. for a metropolitan area of more than 1m people…


 Last edited by: Sethimus on May 7, 2021, 11:57 p.m., edited 1 time in total.
May 8, 2021, 9:35 a.m.
Posts: 1012
Joined: June 26, 2012

It’s an interesting question. I suspect it comes down to the lack of community-founded and maintained networks on public land in Quebec. As a result, most of the good riding is provided by owners of large tenures of land (e.g. ski hill operators), who follow more a resort model, similar to a ski operation. In BC, there are so many high-quality public trails available that there is little money to be made by charging for that same experience.

The flip situation exists with Nordic skiing in BC, where a scarcity of suitable terrain at elevations with snow means that we have to pay to XC ski. In contrast, Quebec, with its landscape of flat or rolling snowy terrain, has lots of opportunities for XC skiing that does not involve paying by use.


 Last edited by: D_C_ on May 8, 2021, 9:40 a.m., edited 2 times in total.
May 8, 2021, 2:03 p.m.
Posts: 402
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Posted by: D_C_

The flip situation exists with Nordic skiing in BC, where a scarcity of suitable terrain at elevations with snow means that we have to pay to XC ski. In contrast, Quebec, with its landscape of flat or rolling snowy terrain, has lots of opportunities for XC skiing that does not involve paying by use.

With Nordic skiing you need a groomer and trails wide enough for that groomer. Plus people to set track. Often you can just ski on gold courses, dikes and out on logging roads and such if you don’t want or need groomed trails. You can ski tour all over BC for free.

May 8, 2021, 2:05 p.m.
Posts: 18112
Joined: Oct. 28, 2003

Its an interesting question, as how many of us don’t pony up the $50 to support our local association who is essentially providing a free ‘$230 trail centre’.

May 8, 2021, 2:50 p.m.
Posts: 2070
Joined: April 25, 2003

Last few years I’ve realized how cheap a trail org membership is so I try and buy one wherever I ride.

My Track record isn’t perfect yet, but if I roll in to a different town for a ride, get food somewhere and have to gas up to make the ride happen a $20 membership doesn’t seem like a big spend.

May 8, 2021, 5:49 p.m.
Posts: 1302
Joined: March 18, 2017

Sled zones in BC are run by clubs and charge memberships or day usage. 

Community Bike Parks of the 20-Teens are the Sk8 Parks of the 90s out here.

May 8, 2021, 7:32 p.m.
Posts: 220
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Just reinforces my opinion that annual fees for MTB associations like nsmba, torca, sorca etc are a bargain. I support all 3 since they are my main riding areas.

May 9, 2021, 10:11 a.m.
Posts: 28
Joined: July 16, 2020

I pay in cash (NSMBA annual membership) and sweat (trail building days). I think both are essential and should be mandatory BUT obviously not enforceable which is also a model I support. 

I put in a lot of trail building hours last year for the first time in my 6 years of riding and I loved it, made great friends, and learned a TON about the trails that have actually helped my riding. Highly recommend it if you can.

May 12, 2021, 6:21 a.m.
Posts: 90
Joined: Feb. 24, 2017

Posted by: skooks

Just reinforces my opinion that annual fees for MTB associations like nsmba, torca, sorca etc are a bargain. I support all 3 since they are my main riding areas.

Yes those memberships are very fairly priced in my opinion. If I was to get the memberships for the 3 closest trail networks here it would cost me 700$, but if they were all 50-60$ I'd get one for every trail system around and support the associations. Unfortunately, I have to resort to getting only one and ride pretty much the same 2 spots 90% of the times I go riding.

Posted by: meloroast

I pay in cash (NSMBA annual membership) and sweat (trail building days). I think both are essential and should be mandatory BUT obviously not enforceable which is also a model I support.

I put in a lot of trail building hours last year for the first time in my 6 years of riding and I loved it, made great friends, and learned a TON about the trails that have actually helped my riding. Highly recommend it if you can.

I've spent 2 years working as a paid trailbuilder here and it was awesome but unfortunately my body couldn't handle it long term. If only the local club wasn't so "bro-attitude" and stopped making the non-diggers feel guilty and cheap, they'd have a lot more people giving a hand I think.


 Last edited by: martin on May 12, 2021, 6:22 a.m., edited 1 time in total.
May 14, 2021, 9:23 a.m.
Posts: 1
Joined: May 14, 2021

Paid trail access for single track (not bike park) outside of standard fees for access to land that everyone pays no matter what mode of recreation they're using (park passes, parking fees, etc.) seem to be a uniquely Eastern Canada development. I can't speak for Quebec but at least in Ontario when I lived there for a while there were multiple trail advocacy organizations that were charging for trail access or attempting to do so. Part of this seemed to stem from weird liability law. In BC and Alberta and Quebec, albeit less so, there's different liability law that offers a lot more protection for landowners in the case of lawsuit arising from injury. When I lived in Ontario and built trail I got familiar with some of the organizations and one thing that struck me is that there was a lot of empire and club building that went on. Undoubtedly there were people involved because they loved to ride and build but there were also some who were involved because they wanted to ride and build but also wanted it to be their own. I think that's something Quebec really suffers from with the rise of the paid trail centre is this creation of a private club and those who built it get to put their name on it. When I build trail I frankly do not care if it has my name on it. I build trail because I thoroughly enjoy it. Part of it is I also believe a cultural shift in MTB. I was not around in the early 90s when MTB was starting and I didn't start seriously building trail until about 10 years ago but it seems to me that the popularity of MTB has absolutely exploded and its culture has shifted from what I would say was a sort of hippy culture of everyone working together reasonably happy to create something together in a self help sort of way to a culture more similar to that of a different mainstream sport where that culture of self help working together has been replaced by an expectation that things will be done for people whether that be trail building or maintenance. I don't think it helps that people do that joking "it was the trail fairies" thing either. The idea that these mystical people magically maintain trail is actually believed by some people who don't realize that it takes effort of often a few dedicated people to maintain and build trail. This leads us to this point where an organization who offers an open transaction of money for trail can become successful.

I think the issue of the paid trail facility could be gotten rid of if liability law was updated Canada wide to adopt something similar to the British idea of death by misadventure such that if you voluntarily engage in some activity and are seriously harmed or killed as a result of your voluntary participation you don't have grounds to sue based on liability. The biggest selling point of the paid trail facility to land managers is that they will take care of insurance. If insurance is no longer an issue they really have no reason to exist.

Further to this, one thing I have noticed a lot less especially in the lower mainland is this idea that some trail users are more equal than others. It seems in Ontario and Quebec that there is always this battle between trail users with MTB ending up with the short end of the stick. A good example of this is public land where the only non-motorized user group that needs to pay for access is MTB.


 Last edited by: leodevinci on May 16, 2021, 2:05 p.m., edited 1 time in total.
Reason: typo
May 14, 2021, 5:05 p.m.
Posts: 3566
Joined: May 23, 2006

Posted by: leodevinci

If insurance is not longer an issue they really have no reason to exist. 

Bob Dylan warned us about those guys.

May 14, 2021, 5:41 p.m.
Posts: 2
Joined: June 11, 2017

Oof,  that makes me love our  town, Duluth, MN (85,000 people), is building out to ~100 miles of mtb trail. All built and maintained by our local trail club, city staff and contractors paid by government funding and fundraising.

There is no fee to ride our trails, but the club definitely gets donations from me (labor, donations for auctions, and cash).

All of the trail networks around us like that.

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