From mountain biking to showshoeing: Rogersville is staying active

In the summer of 2019, a group of engaged youth built themselves a mountain bike trail. Now, thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers, the trail can be used for snowshoeing throughout the winter.

The Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) for the Rogersville Area identified limited recreational activities for children and youth in the community as a priority.

A CHNA is a recognized approach to understanding health and wellness at a local, community level. These assessments define a community’s strengths, assets, and needs to guide in the establishment of priorities that improve the health and wellness of the population.

In the summer of 2019, the community responded. The Kevin Pitre Mountain Bike Trail was built.

Angèle McCaie, manager of the Village of Rogersville, said a group of volunteers from the community will ensure the trail can be used all winter.

“We do not have a groomer, but we have very sweet volunteers that are going to go in and break in the trail after every snowfall,” Angèle said. “Anyone is welcome to go in to snowshoe – or do fat biking.”

A fat bike is a bicycle with oversized tires designed for riding over unstable terrain like sand, mud and of course, snow.

Registered Nurse Maxine Caissie, who serves as the coordinator of Horizon’s Rogersville Health Centre, said since work began on the trail in July, it’s been extended about three kilometres.

“We have a really great and engaged youth in our community. They love the trail. They love building and maintaining it,” said Maxine. “It’s because it’s their trail, they are proud of it and it’s really awesome to see.”

Jean Daigle, VP for Community for Horizon, said these youth are setting an example to their younger peers.

“They are showing younger children that being outdoors and active is fun,” he said. “Going out after school to work on the trail is a fun way to stay active – and it keeps youth healthy.”

The trail was made possible thanks to funding from the Sport and Recreation Branch of the provincial Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture as well as Horizon’s Community Innovation Fund, which comes from Horizon’s Population Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Management Department.

About halfway through the trail is a peak with a lookout, where a bench now sits.

“My husband and children built it with leftover wood from a carpentry course they gave last summer,” Angèle said. “When you sit on the bench, there’s a beautiful view of the forest and marsh area. It’s really nice.”

Maxine said the Village hopes to invite Justin Truelove from the International Mountain Bike Association to come back to see the progress that’s been made.

“Justin was here for five days in July (2019) and he taught the youth how to build the trail and empowered them to continue to build it,” Maxine said. “We’d love to get him back to Rogersville to see how far they’ve come.”

Maxine said the community of Rogersville really comes together to support one another and provide a good quality of life.

“We’re too far from Miramichi or Moncton to say we’ll use their facilities, so we just do our own thing,” Maxine said. “We collaborate with organizations and it all comes together naturally.”

The official grand opening of the trail, which is located behind the village’s municipal building, took place in October 2019 with the whole community invited.

“We had a beautiful ceremony to honour Kevin’s memory and finished with a round of high fives and hugs – just like Kevin loved to do,” Maxine said.

Kevin was a beloved community member who died in June 2019 at the age of 29. The youth who built the trail chose to name it after him because they all agreed: Kevin would have loved it.