Group is promoting outdoor opportunities on trails in the Estevan area while constructing new ones

Tanner Mantei loves spending time outdoors on trails – mountain biking, walking, hiking, jogging and other activities.

He’s not alone, either. Others have joined him in the activities.

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So he’s part of Estevan and Area Trails Association, a group of outdoor enthusiasts who like to use trails for outdoor activities. They’ve been constructing trails for a little more than two years, and they’re eager to promote the existing trails while seeking support for new ones.

The amount of time needed to complete a trail depends on terrain and what you’re looking to get.

“It can go anywhere from weed whipping and raking a section, or it can go all the way down to hauling rocks in, wood, cement, whatever you need to make the terrain rideable and fun,” said Mantei. “It depends on where you’re at, but it’s anywhere from a month to two per kilometre.”

Based on the reaction so far, Mantei and the other trail builders are doing pretty well. And they’re having fun with the names.

The Twister Totter trail down at the Woodlawn Regional Park is likely the most popular one that they’ve constructed; Mantei believes it’s due to the trees that line the trail. Another, Bipolar, is in the vicinity of Willow Park Greens Home Park and is also very popular.

“It’s grass, there’s not much for trees. That one doesn’t get quite as much use, but you definitely see people walking their dogs there, and hiking,” said Mantei.

The name usually comes from the building process, the terrain or another attribute. Twister Totter comes from the natural twists in the trail. Mantei didn’t want to cut down any trees.

“I routed the trail around what was available,” said Mantei.

As for Bipolar, there’s no consistent style to the trail. He built it over a year and a half. It was the first trail Mantei built, and the style changed a bit.

Mantei has built trails around Estevan and Roche Percee, with names for Roche Percee trails like Louie’s Lookout and Powder Cow, and at Rafferty Dam and Smart Lake.

“I’ve got a couple good friends that are a really good help, and we’re always looking for more,” he said.

A two-kilometre trail in the Roche Percee area, named Cattle Cradle, is nearing completion, and will run parallel to Powder Cow. He hopes it can be finished this month.

The next project will be in the valley near the Estevan Humane Society’s animal shelter and the old brick plant building.

“I might try to get a little bit more of a community project going on that build,” he said.

The trails that he has constructed are in addition to those that have been built elsewhere in the community.

A Facebook group for the association already had more than 620 likes as of Monday afternoon, impressive considering that it had been around for a little more than a week.

“I’m definitely surprised with the feedback on there, and seeing a lot of people using the Estevan trails the last couple of days,” said Mantei.

It’s for anyone who wants to learn more about the trails that the association maintains, and the opportunities that exist in the Estevan area to enjoy wildlife.

“If you want to go see the birds and the animals, it doesn’t matter. If you want to use the trails, it’s geared towards you.”

It’s also used as an opportunity to encourage people to clean up after themselves when using the trails, and to stop littering.

Mantei is an avid mountain biker, but he enjoys building as a nice alternative.

“I got into mountain biking about three years ago out in British Columbia, and of course, coming back, I wanted to continue riding my bike, but there wasn’t much for venues to do so, so I started going up to Moose Jaw a lot and travelling within southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba.”

Once that became a regular occurrence, he started building the trails of his own as a hobby, and it grew from there into a lifestyle.

He finds there has been a significant increase in people taking part in outdoor activities since COVID-19 hit. Many team sports have been shut down or curtailed, and indoor recreation facilities have had to close or alter their operations, so outdoor areas, including trails, have become more popular, because they break the cycle of spending time at work and at home.

“Anybody who wants to use them, you’re welcome, and if you need some information, we’re always willing to give it, and if you want to help out, swing some iron at the ground, you’re always welcome.”

The Trailforks app will show you the map and all the info you need to know of the trails in the Estevan area.

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