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Mountain Bike

Ontario Trails ICD Projects

The Ontario Trails Integrated Curriculum Design (ICD) Projects were a series of joint community-based research projects and educational initiatives undertaken during the Winter 2021 semester by students in the University of Waterloo's Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies in partnership with the Ontario Trails Council and trail organizations across Ontario.

Hydrocut Logo - black.png

Learn more about the Hydrocut in the documentary Ribbon of Dirt: The Story of the HydrocutNote, you can enable closed captioning, and also change the language of the subtitles. After clicking the large red play button, at the bottom of the screen, click the white CC (closed captioning / subtitles) button to enable subtitles. Click the spoke beside the CC button to change the language.

Winter 2021 Project: The Hydrocut

The Hydrocut Trail system, located in Kitchener-Waterloo, is consistently ranked as the top mountain bike riding destination in Ontario (, 2020). This free-to-use trail system is not only popular to local mountain bikers but is also recognized across Canada for its 35km of flowing singletrack trails that offer an incredible experience for a diverse range of riding interests and rider skills.

Situated on both public and private lands the trails have expanded at a rapid rate in the past few years. The expansion of the trail system is in direct correlation to the growing popularity of mountain biking; this trail system now sees over 90,000 visitors per year. Although the trails are primarily designed for mountain biking, dog walkers, hikers, trail runners and nature observers also frequent the trails.

On the trails, users will find a range of trails from “EASY”, meant for all levels of riding, to “EXPERT”, for advanced riders who want to test their skills. Features along the trail include: boardwalks, bridges, switchbacks, rock armouring, jumps and drops all mixed in with fast lines and technical features. The Hydrocut Trail system offers something for everyone.

The management of the trail system is undertaken by the Waterloo Cycling Club Trails Committee (The Hydrocut Trails Committee). This 10-member committee looks after all things to do with The Hydrocut including trail planning & development, maintenance and interacting with multiple land managers. As well, The Hydrocut Trails Committee organizes merchandise sales, sponsorships, the Friends of The Hydrocut and events which help promote the mountain bike culture in the region and to raise funds to support the trails.

Even though The Hydrocut Trails Committee oversees the direction of the trails, much of the success would not be possible without volunteers. A large volunteer base is mobilized multiple times throughout the year to conduct large scale trail days. During these trail days new trails are built, maintenance is completed, and the community is empowered. It is not uncommon for a trail day to have over 75 volunteers and these volunteers contribute to over 4,000+ hours a year which helps to maintain the trails top ranking.

The Hydrocut trails have not always existed in the form they are now. Starting in the 1990’s cyclists began riding the hydro corridor between the Waterloo Landfill Woodlot and the Petersburg Tract owned by the Region of Waterloo. In the late 90’s unsanctioned trails were built which prompted the Region of Waterloo to shut them down. As a result of the trail closures, the Waterloo Cycling Club formed an advocacy committee with hopes to establish a legitimate mountain biking location. In 2002 the Region of Waterloo partnered with the Waterloo Cycling Club and the Waterloo Cycling Club Trails Committee (The Hydrocut) was created. In 2009 a stewardship agreement was signed by both parties and thus formed the guidelines of how the trails are managed today and how The Hydrocut Trail System has become Ontario’s best mountain bike trail system.

Project 5: Hydrocut Trail User Experience Survey (Mountain Biking/ Winter Fatbiking)


This Ontario Trail Research Project entailed Introduction to Tourism (REC 280) students working to develop and pilot a Hydrocut Trail User Experience Survey in conjunction with Project Leads from the Advanced Seminar in Tourism ( REC 480) class.

  • REC 480 student modified and updated the survey the Waterloo Cycling Club Trails Committee previously ran 4 years ago to include information aimed at capturing demographic information about the Hydrocut trail users, to help assess the impact of the trail for the region and steer marketing for trail experiences and swag.

  • REC 280 students piloted the survey.

  • REC 480 students modified the survey to make it more user friendly based on feedback from the REC 280 students so that it can be rolled out the online survey over the 2021 fiscal year and assess the impact and user demographics for the full fiscal year. 

  • ​REC 480 students summarized the findings into an Executive Summary which can be used by the Waterloo Cycling Club Trails Committee to support grant applications, demonstrate to stakeholders the impact of the trail on the region, and guide future swag and trail merchandise decision-making. 

  • REC 280 students converted the findings into infographics which the Waterloo Cycling Club Trails Committee can share online (websites and social media) to communicate with trail users and stakeholders.

Project Liaisons: Matt Luckhardt and Mark Schmidt, Waterloo Cycling Club Trails Committee Members

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