Powerhouse Update - Summer 2021

Powerhouse Update - Summer 2021


July 22, 2021

Trail crews have been busy finishing off what is currently referred to as the “Powerhouse” trail, a project that was started in the Summer of 2020. It’s been a popular new addition to the trail network, and we’ve also had some questions from the community about the fate of the existing line running parallel to the stairs. So we thought it was time for a Powerhouse update, along with some of the background information on the project.

Powerhouse Trail running parallel to Legacy switch backs
Powerhouse Trail running parallel to Legacy switch backs

Back in the Fall of 2019, shortly after the construction of the Legacy Trail switchbacks, the Town of Canmore came up with the idea to construct a new downhill trail to replace the existing unofficial trail running parallel to the stairs. With the new Legacy Trail switchbacks in place, this existing straight-line trail posed an obvious safety issue in which riders coming off the trail at speed were crossing over directly into traffic travelling on the switchbacks. Rather than try to create an intersection in which a merge could occur safely, the decision was made to close this trail and construct a new line for downhill traffic. The unsustainable nature of the existing trail, given its steepness and fall line orientation, also factored into that decision.

After the concept for the trail was developed by the Town, CAMBA became involved in the project to help with the detailed design and construction of what is currently known as the “Powerhouse” trail. In the Summer of 2020, the trail was built and opened for riding, with improvements and polishing scheduled for the 2021 season. This work includes building a “squirrel catcher” feature at the entrance, installing signage, closing the existing line, and reinforcing the bench in some key areas.

Squirrel Catcher / Drop at the top of the trail, along with fence closing off the existing line
Squirrel Catcher / Drop at the top of the trail, along with fence closing off the existing line

At the entrance to the Powerhouse trail, a 1 ft drop has been installed. Known as a “squirrel catcher,” the purpose of such a feature is to serve as a filter to prevent riders, who may not be ready for what the trail has to offer, from riding down it mistakenly.

Also, a wooden fence has been installed at the top to close off the existing line, making the only two ways down to be the Powerhouse and Legacy switchbacks. We understand that there are riders who are sad to see that existing trail go. Unfortunately, due to its unsustainable nature and conflict with the Legacy Trail, there weren’t many options. We are thankful that the Town of Canmore gave us the opportunity to work on a replacement while at the same time offering some more technical terrain to riders.

Due to the poor silty soil in this area, we will be adding some wooden reinforcement in a few key areas to help support the trail. This will mostly be after the large wooden ramp in the forest and will extend down the trail, in between the trees that line the trail, to the berms above the rock garden. This issue was identified early on; however, it was decided to see how the trail was wearing in to determine where this reinforcement was required. Without this work, the tread will continue to push out and increase the likelihood a rider will hit a tree on the lower side of the trail or leave the trail completely.

We’re happy to report that our trail crews are continuing to work on these improvements and will soon be ready to officially put a bow on the Powerhouse DH trail. Until then, the trail remains open, and we hope you have as much fun riding it as our volunteers did building it.

Happy trails!