Ritchot Prepares for Cross-Country Ski Trails

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Residents of the Ritchot municipality will have even more options this winter when it comes to outdoor activities, thanks to a series of new cross-country ski trails. 

Earlier this year, the RM received funds from the Manitoba Hydro Community Development Initiatives Funding Program which they allocated for the purchase of a trail groomer, so that ski paths could be created and maintained throughout the snowy months.

Amber Mamchuk, Director of Recreation Services for Ritchot, says that the goal for the first year is to start with a few simple trails.

“We’re going to do a trail in all of our larger communities, so we’ll have one each in Île-des-Chênes, Ste. Agathe, Grande Pointe, and St. Adolphe. Each trail will be a loop.”

Eventually the RM hopes to expand the trail system, but Mamchuk emphasizes that they want to be cautious.

“We don’t want to take on more than we can handle at first, so we’re starting off small and hoping to build from there,” she says, noting that the project is a joint venture between the municipality’s Recreation Department and Public Works Department. They want to make sure they have a solid routine before getting too ambitious.  

The exact location of the trails isn’t set in stone yet.

“We have a rough idea of where they’re going,” Mamchuk says, “but until we get in there with our machinery and our groomer we won’t know for sure what will work. We have to feel it out first before we can confirm trail maps.”

One of the key factors in finding the right location is the presence of snowmobile trails.

“The idea is to keep ski trails and snowmobile trails separate,” Mamchuk explains. “The governing body in this area for snowmobiles is Snoman Inc. and we’ll be looking at their maps and try to steer clear of their marked trails.”

Île-des-Chênes resident Linda LeBlanc says this is the main reason she’s so excited to see the ski trails going in. She’s been cross-country skiing recreationally for decades, and when she moved to Île-des-Chênes four years ago she was excited to be able to continue her pastime. However, she soon found that finding a safe place to ski was harder than anticipated.

“I’ve been skiing in the ditches,” LeBlanc says. “But I have to share the ditches with snowmobiles. I worry about them not seeing me, since they’re going so much faster than me.”

Accessibility is another issue for skiers, says LeBlanc. 

“The easier the access, the more likely you are to do it,” she explains. “If I have to pack my skis up and go for a drive, I won’t do it nearly so often. But if there’s a trail near enough to walk, or a quick drive to trails with a place to park, well, I can go out for a quick ski after work and be home again for dinner.”

The RM is waiting for a bit more snow on the ground before taking the groomer out, but hopes to be able to put the trails in early in the new year. Once the trail locations are set, maps will be available from the municipality online or from their office at 352 Main Street in St. Adolphe.

For more information

Check back for maps, when they’re ready, at www.ritchot.com.

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