20 Years of FVMBA – Thornhill

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20 Years of FVMBA – Thornhill

2024 marks the 20th anniversary since the FVMBA was officially incorporated as a non-profit. Throughout the year, we’ll be taking a look back at the trails, events, and people that have been instrumental in creating the organization we know today. We’re starting with a look at one of our most popular networks, Thornhill.

The trail maintenance and advocacy efforts of the FVMBA cover the traditional and unceded territories of many unique First Nations. These lands are managed by five municipal partners, and each trail network has a unique flavour and appeal to our members and riders at large.

Going back to the ‘90s, The Woodlot has consistently been among the most progressive riding areas in Canada. Bear & Red Mountains were both home to iconic DH races and remain incredibly well-loved trail networks. Sumas & Vedder attract riders from all over thanks to their assortment of engaging lines. Heritage serves as a local gem to residents of Mission and beyond. Hope Mountain presents many future opportunities for expanding mountain biking in that community.

Today we’re looking at the outsized influence of one of the smallest riding zones in the FVMBA’s maintenance portfolio, Thornhill in Maple Ridge.

Fun for riders of all levels, Thornhill is particularly friendly to kids and beginners. Photo credit: Andrew Major

What makes Thornhill a unique gem is the blend of accessibility and fun. The trails are fantastic for beginner riders to get their first taste of mountain biking and also smile-inducing for more experienced folks taking them. They’re great for locals looking for a quick lap and also see visitors from all over the Greater Vancouver area.

The entirety of the one-kilometer gravel climb from the parking lot, known as ‘The Price Of Admission’ is visible from the bottom and this can be intimidating to new riders. But put your mountain bike into a low gear and spin your way to the top and it’s over quickly. For the adept, a single-track climbing option, called Blazing Saddles, will take you from the bottom to the top.

From there flowing downhill single-track carves through a beautiful landscape of luscious ferns past interesting trail art. Thornhill is single-lap or multiple-lap friendly and there are often riders hanging out at the top of the climb having a snack and planning their descent. The number of kids out grinding up the climb and flowing the descents with huge smiles on their faces is awesome.

The “Price Of Admission” climb is a 1KM rise and grind. Push yourself, or select a low gear and cruise to the top. Photo credit: Andrew Major

Previously known to mountain bikers as Grant Hill, some trails through this area were originally cut by the Haney Horsemen Association, a volunteer equestrian stewardship group, and also moto riders going back at least a few decades. Basic single track built by mountain bikers has also been in place for years, with the FVMBA involvement beginning relatively recently, in 2017.

Thornhill is an ongoing concern. Currently, the area is recognized by the City of Maple Ridge in their Official Community Plan (OCP) as part of their urban reserve, with development slated for consideration when the population of the city exceeds 100,000 people, projected to be sometime after 2030. That said the trails are currently sanctioned and supported by the city.

Interesting trail art and lush greenery abound. Photo credit: Andrew Major

The Thornhill network currently consists of some 25km of, mostly blue-rated, trails that are lovingly maintained by a core of volunteer mountain bike trail builders and shared with a large hiking community and equestrians. Thank you to everyone who has gifted of themselves, through advocacy, trail work, or other support to maintain this wonderful collection of trails.

Many thanks to Ryan McIsaac and Lee Hughes not only for their hard work on trail, but also their tireless time behind the scenes, meeting with the City of Maple Ridge and other trail user groups, and advocating for the official recognition of the trails and for bikes to use them. Paul Kirkham, in addition to building and maintaining the trails, is also the artist of the beautiful signs throughout the network. We are also grateful for hard work of Dean, Derek, Adam, and all builders who have contributed their time and effort to the trails at Thornhill over the years.

Many thanks to Andrew Major for writing the article. Andrew fell in love with mountain biking riding The Woodlot and Bear Mountain as a teenager and visits them as often as possible. He also loves riding Thornhill with his nephew. You’ll find more of his writing at MEATengines.com and BIKEmag.com

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