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  • Writer's pictureManitoba MTB

Grassroots Gravity: Building New Trails in Asessippi

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

Trails in Manitoba are rarely compared to those in Fernie, Kelowna, or the North Shore of British Columbia, but when Russ Hillman and his son set out to build a trail, that’s exactly what they were hoping to accomplish. They wanted something to ride that was representative of their experiences on some of BC’s finest singletrack so that when it was time to road trip west, they would be confident on the bike no matter what they were riding. Now, after months of planning and work, Cindy Lou Who is ready to be ridden.

The journey from start to now was not without its roadblocks. In 2022, the Hillmans had hoped to build a trail that connected the campground at Asessippi Provincial Park to the bike park at Asessippi Ski Resort. They had even secured some help from the trail builders at the resort. Unfortunately, after a rough mountain bike season full of bad weather and trail closures, Asessippi Resort was forced to shut down for the mountain bike season, and with went their ability to support the new trail.

Despite the setback, Russ built some small sections of trail inside the provincial park with permission from park representatives. However, after a break for winter, Russ was unable to secure support to start a non-profit for trail building.

It was time to pivot.

Beginning with more research into landowner liability and after some convincing that it would be a bike-only trail, the Hillmans found a landowner willing to let them build. Now, with private land to build on, they could bring their vision to life.

After working from March to May of 2023, Cindy Lou Who, named after the landowner, was almost ready to go. Built on some of Manitoba’s finest terrain, this 424-metre downhill trail boasts steep grades, jumps and a mixture of natural and manmade drops. It is, without a doubt, a challenging black diamond trail. Currently, the only way up is to push your bike to the top, but after all that hard work, you’re rewarded with a 67-metre descent on an average -15% grade. Not too bad for Manitoba!

The Hillmans also have plans to develop the area further. With landowners on both sides of the Manitoba and Saskatchewan border, they are already conceptualizing a long blue or black jump trail and more features for Cindy Lou Who.

If you’re in the area and want to ride the trail, you can find it on Trailforks; just be sure you’ve got your long travel bike, helmet, goggles, and fanny pack because this might be the truest enduro or downhill trail we have in Manitoba.

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