Mountain biking, backcountry huts proposed for Garibaldi Provincial Park’s Spearhead Range
B.C. Parks is asking the public whether mountain bikers should be granted access to the Spearhead Range area of Garibaldi Provincial Park, near Whistler.
The branch of the B.C. Ministry of Environment is also looking for input on a proposal to build three backcountry huts in the area, which lies behind the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort.
“The purpose of this project is to a) provide supplemental direction, and b) confirm existing direction regarding public access in the Spearhead Range of Garibaldi Park,” B.C. Parks states online.
The study area extends from Cheakamus Lake in the south to Wedge Creek in the north, and encompasses the Spearhead and Fitzsimmons mountain ranges. This part of the Class A park is home to the Spearhead Traverse, a classic backcountry skiing route, and Singing Pass, a popular hiking destination.
B.C. Parks is already planning to develop a trail from Cheakamus Lake to Singing Pass, as well as to study the possibility of establishing a summer “high route trail” to link the Whistler and Blackcomb ski areas, as the Spearhead Traverse does in winter.
A group called the Spearhead Hut Committee—whose members represent the Alpine Club of Canada, B.C. Mountaineering Club, Brett Carlson Memorial Foundation, and Kees and Claire Memorial Hut Society—has proposed the construction of the huts along the Spearhead Traverse. The huts would be operated by the Whistler section of the Alpine Club.
“When completed, the hut system will be comprised of number a huts, spread at intervals along the 40 km circuit,” the Spearhead Hut Committee site states. “The huts will provide summer and winter shelter with overnight accommodation, heat, water, toilets and self-serve cooking facilities. The hut system will allow winter and summer backcountry travelers to experience this remarkable environment relatively unencumbered by equipment and heavy packs. Establishment of the hut system will also mitigate and control the current random user/uncontrolled camping impacts that are occurring throughout this area. The huts will also broaden the potential user base of the Spearhead range to include both younger and older people, and those with less experience than would currently be able to experience and enjoy this region of the park in the summer and winter seasons.”
Garibaldi Provincial Park already has huts at Elfin Lakes, Russet Lake, and Wedgemount Lake, which are used by overnighting backpackers, snowshoers, mountaineers, and ski tourers.
As for mountain biking, a B.C. Parks document says it is seeking direction to “explore whether or not the objective should be updated to include mountain bike access in the Spearhead area, including development/designation of specific trails”. Currently, bicycles are only allowed on the park’s trails to Cheakamus Lake and Elfin Lakes.
B.C. Parks is also asking for input on whether guided mountain biking should be permitted and whether it should be “phasing out” motorized access, such as heli-skiing, in the park.
The public can submit comments by email, fax, and snail mail, as well as via a web form, by March 15.
B.C. Parks expects to have a draft management plan amendment prepared in May and made available for public comment in June. The final amendment would be completed in January 2013.
Designated in 1927, Garibaldi Provincial Park covers 194,650 hectares.