Thunder Bay Adventure Trails Plan Group Rides
by Scott A. Sumner
The Thunder Bay Adventure Trails were at the recent Fall Trade Show held at the Sports Dome with permits for sale for the upcoming season. I sat down with Marcel Gauthier, President of Thunder Bay Adventure Trails to talk about what we can expect with the trails this year.
Above: Bob Hancherow, District Manager North of Superior Snowmobile Association ( NOSSA), Marcel Gauthier, President of Thunder Bay Adventure Trails (TBAT) and Gaye S. Cooley of TBAT
When will the TBAT open this year?
“ We will open the trails as early as we can this year. The volunteers are out there right now on their ATV’s clearing trails and taking dead trees off the trails. We will refresh our signage near the end of hunting season. This year we are looking at three staging areas with signs at Mt Baldy, the Kakabeka Can Op and Timberland Motel.
What trails will be open this year?
“ This year we have the trail from MT Baldy to Nipigon. Last year we opened late in the season with this trail primarily due to the wind farm there being behind schedule with their construction. This year they will be out of there and the trail will go near the windmills,
which will be nice. We will have the Kakabeka east to Atikokan trail, the D110 M to Gravel Lakes Cabins open again and we are currently looking at the D 109 which will take you to Silver Mountain Station. That would be interesting as well. If we have cash for fuel we can
Will there be any trails open closer to Thunder Bay this year?
“ We are waiting for MTO clearance to allow us to open a trail from Kakabeka to the Neebing Roadhouse. They are currently considering our encroachment permit along Hwy 61 and along Hwy 130 from Hanna Road. We have letters of support for this from local governments. If we can get this approved it would be excellent as we have been working on this trail route for 2 years now. We were into the Balsam Street area for 1 year but now with the road construction it is difficult. We are also working with Trans Canada Trail to secure the Kingshorn route as well but it will take longer to happen.
“ We currently have 3 groomers with 1 a district groomer. One is based near Kakabeka, the other one at Mt Baldy and we brought in the District groomer to do the Kakabeka to Neebing trail as we feel that route may have more traffic.
What is the financial position of the TBAT?
“ Our financial position is dire. We don’t sell enough permits in District 16 so we had to change our strategy and go to a district-funding model. All our resources in District 16 are pooled together to reduce administrative costs. This includes the Thunder Bay, Nipigon, Terrace Bay, Marathon, White River, Geraldton, Nakina, Long Lac and Beardmore areas. We haven’t been able to sell permits to save ourselves for quite some time. Last year our District 16 only sold about 485 permits in total and of that number Thunder Bay sold 124. District 17 next to us in the west sold over 1500 permits for example. We need to do more on the marketing side. We have vacancies on our board and are always looking for volunteers.
You must like to snowmobile yourself?
“ I like snowmobiling and started as a kid with a 1971 Alouette, then Sno cruiser and then a Olympic. I am busy in my day job at the railroad but do a 1 week snowmobile trip each season starting from here.”
Will there be any special events at the TBATthis year?
“We want to have group rides every weekend and have someone like a board member that will be leaving one of the staging areas. I kept hearing from people last year, I have no one to ride with. Last year I joined a motorcycle group called the Retreads and every Wednesday and Saturday we meet at a coffee shop and then we have people to ride with. Now I have 100 plus people to ride motorcylces with any week and before I had no one. You will just show up with a sled with a full tank of gas and may end up going to Gravel Lake Cabins for lunch. People will have someone to go riding with that knows the trails. It will be safer and more fun. Once we finalize this rides we will publicize it on our web site and the media.