Dean Wilkes, an avid mountain biker and trail builder, found the traps and fears for the safety of other riders.
Someone is deliberately dragging deadfalls and fallen logs across a trail in Maple Ridge, in a way that could be dangerous to mountain bikers, says a local cycling enthusiast.
So-called “trail traps” have also plagued North Vancouver in the past month, and now are being found in Maple Ridge.
A week ago, Dean Wilkes found five obstacles placed on Bear Ridge Trail – a path that runs between 248th and 256th streets, just north of 102nd Avenue.
“I go mountain biking with my kids on these trails. There’s big potential for someone to get hurt,” he said.
At first, he wondered whether it was intentional. The giveaway was a section where five logs were placed on the path, creating an obstacle that only a person on foot could traverse.
Wilkes said he was the person who originally cut the five logs, after he bucked a fallen tree.
He cut it into five sections, which were still so heavy that only a fit man could move them, and pushed them to the side.
Other sections had single, slim logs dragged across them.
“Somebody had purposely put trees or logs across the trail,” he said. “I’ve been building trails for over a decade. There’s no doubt in my mind they were placed there.”
He said at least one of the obstacles was set up as a potentially deadly trap, in a section where a person on a bike could not see the log and stop in time to avoid a collision.
Wilkes said, fortunately, he came upon it while biking uphill.
“If I was going down the hill, I would have run right into it.”
Seeing it made him angry – an adult might have the reflexes to stop in time, but children have slower reactions, or may panic and “freeze” when they see an obstacle.
“I just stopped and shook my head, that someone has done something so stupid here,” said Wilkes.
“They’re putting other people’s lives at risk doing this – purposely doing it.”
He removed all of the traps, and reported the matter to the police and parks and leisure services.
Then on Tuesday, he found two more obstacles, but on different trails in the system.
Wilkes says trail-use conflict has been an issue in other areas, but not Maple Ridge before.
“Hikers sometimes don’t like bikers – it’s just trail-use conflict,” he said. “But people are respectful. We tend to try to play together as best we can.”
But that hasn’t been the case in other communities.
A 64-year-old North Vancouver woman faces charges of mischief and setting traps with intent to injure after the latter were found on Mount Fromme, frequented by mountain bikers. Members of the mountain bike community installed hidden cameras on trees and caught footage of her.
Geoff Mallory, city manager of parks and open spaces in Maple Ridge, said no such conflicts have been seen prior to Wilkes’ complaints.
There are step-over obstacles placed at trail heads to keep motorcycles and ATVs off the trails. They are banned, but at Bear Ridge Trail hikers, bikers and horse riders all use the path.
“We haven’t had any reported conflicts whatsoever,” said Mallory.
He said the city has a network of 200 kilometres of trails, and they are “very well used.”
Two city staff members maintain the trails full-time.
As word of the traps spread throughout the cycling community, people are hopeful that Sunday was an isolated incident.
“I’m hoping it doesn’t escalate – let’s nip this in the bud right now,” said Wilkes. “When you put people’s lives in danger, things could go really wrong.”