Reader Story: (RE)Building & Riding 'Poacher' in Squamish

Mar 2, 2024
by Matt Bolton  



When it comes to mountain biking, few places in the world rival Squamish's legendary trails with steep rock rolls, deep loam, and sweet flow.

Although Squamish has a ton of trails surpassingly there are almost no advanced jump trails.

Five years ago (2019) my friend Tim and I set out on a project to build some jumps. The result was "Poacher" a Freeride Alt-line off East Infection that preserved the original line.



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Five years later the trail sign is holding up well

After five years of abuse and thousands of riders many of the features were beaten down and in need of some love.

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The trail was punched

One dark winter evening my friends and I headed up to the trail to do some maintenance. After a quick inspection I knew it was time for a full rebuild.

We started on the shark fin. Our original line was very tight and didn't line up the best forcing many riders to roll over the jump, flattening it and eroded the soil. We ended up ripping the entire jump out, opened up the radius of the turn and stacked a huge amount of soil making the lip steeper and bigger. The result was a much smoother jump while being able to maintain more speed and flow.

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Much faster and smoother

The next project was the entry drop landing and catch berm. The drop landing was pretty much non existent from riders going around the drop and skidding down the landing causing erosion. We stacked a bunch of large rocks steepening the landing while making it more difficult to cut into the trail.

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New and improved
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Smooth is fast

The catch berm after the entry drop was always really tight and many riders had blown over it.

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In rough shape

We ended up pushing the line back slightly, opening up the radius and extending the berm at the top at bottom. We also considerably heightened and steepened the turn making it a lot smoother and safer into the shark fin.

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Much better
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A good looking section of trail

After the turn we started on the step down. While the original version held up alright we decided to add more lip to the jump, push the landing back slightly and re-establish the landing point.

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Bigger is better

Continuing down the trail our next job was the S-Berms. Originally we had only built one turn due to the natural slope of the land but after the rework of step down the speed was much faster and I wanted to build a set up berm to help guide riders into the 90 turn. Luckily we found an insanely good honey hole of gold dirt and were able to make some the nicest turns in town, tripling the size of the old berm.

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Some nice looking turns
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The speed you can carry now is wild
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Holding up well

The setup for the drop was always a bit of a challenge. The soil quickly changes and instead of perfect gold the ground turns into dense pudding stone that makes for horrible digging. My main goal for the revamp was to make the run in to the drop smooth enough that riders felt comfortable hitting it from intended line and not opting for the straight entrance line, a braid from a nearby trail. We widened up the approach and built a bermed turn allowing riders to comfortably maintain the perfect speed into the drop. I'm stoked with how it turned out, the speed for the drop is perfect.

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Drop set up
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Improved landing and buffed up exit of trail

The final challenge was rebuilding the road gap landing. Over the past couple years I've received a ton of messages asking me when I was going to make the landing steeper. What had happened was the landing point and road/trail it gapped over had slowly been blending together washing out both the landing and the trail flattening it out even more. We built up the landing point by a couple feet, using some large rocks and a ton of dirt to help separate the landing and trail. The result was a much steeper landing and better separation between the two trails.

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This landing was a lot of work
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Send at own rink
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First hits
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Fold & Hold
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The drop run in is much better

A big shout out to everybody who helped make this rebuild happen, Anton, Jordan, Andy, Jade, Will, Estiven, Robin, Lucas, Honza, Sandy and Duck. Another big thanks to Rob Perry for coming out to take some great shots.

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Thankful for friends
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Hanging it out
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Small details
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No more blowing this turn
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Final touches

Poacher will be re-opened for all to enjoy in the spring after the freeze/thaw cycle had finished and a few minor drainage problems can be sorted out.

Thanks for the support - Transition Bikes, OneUp Components, Ennef (NF) Clothing, WeAreOne Composites, Delium Tires, Tantalus Bike Shop and Alba Distribution.

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Go send it


Author Info:
mattboltz avatar

Member since Nov 16, 2009
8 articles

29 Comments
  • 70 0
 My favorite part is the moss on the berms. Mostly cuz I can’t ride the rest. But also the moss is nice.
  • 9 0
 Same here. So gorgeous
  • 7 0
 Came here to say just that, a moss topped berm is (imo, obv) the most beautiful trail feature. They are plentiful on the east coast and you always know you're in a good part of the forest when you see them.
  • 34 0
 Good trail builders seem to blend boundless optimism with the hard reality of how much work is involved. The vision and desire to build something amazing, the determination & labour to get it done, and the optimism that "doing it right" will prevent any of this:
... forcing many riders to roll over the jump
... from riders going around the drop and skidding down the landing causing erosion
... riders felt comfortable hitting it from intended line and not opting for the straight entrance line, a braid from a nearby trail

God bless you all, you naive saints!
  • 21 0
 Haha yes, destruction is imminent, it's built in one of the busiest trail networks in Canada. The goal was building it in such a way the damage would be less destructive on the features. -The sharkfin was built steep that if you can ride it and roll over it on the inside, it won't damage the shape of the jump. -The first landing will degrade with time but with a steeper bigger landing more riders will likely just hit the feature instead of going around. -The braid line was logged and nailed together. We also built a berm on the other trail which would make it very difficult trying to straight line it. With the improved run in i'm hopeful most riders will ride it from the trail. Thanks for reading! - Matt
  • 12 2
 What a great post @mattboltz ! Who would have thought the topic of "trail maintenance" would turn into such a neat story? I've never ridden the trail, and need to make the drive up to try it out one day, but it sure looks sweet from the pics! Also, a huge thank you for sharing the actual trail with the entire MTB community. Bravo!
  • 4 0
 cheers Jeff, come up for a couple laps sometime!
  • 9 0
 Solid work! My friend and I used poacher as somewhat of a warm up trail to hit the brutus drop since both are sizeable features with a sketchy run in. We absolutely loved the trail and the technicality of it but I couldn't approve more of all of the improvements that Matt and friends did to the trail. We're coming back this summer and we're pumped to give this revamped trail a go! Cheers for all of the love and effort put in each of those late night shovel slaps!
  • 4 1
 Very nice ! Poacher was already one of my favourites trails to ride, it’s definitely going to be my #1 now !
PS: if you need extra hands for your next project feel free to contact me
  • 1 0
 Thanks to Tim Evans (Ceremonic Mallows) for building this forest meditation There's nothing quite like jumping and landing on a trail built out of rocks, lit only by your headlamp, no cares in the world. If you do find yourself riding here, please take note of the way you ride over the land. Leave no trace or it will diminish the fun for much more than you.
  • 1 0
 What's the purpose of the rocks on the outside of the end of the berm in the "small details" photo?

Looks like a beautiful line. A lot different from 15yrs ago when East Infection was the first trail I rode in Squam!
  • 3 0
 Weight to support the berm, maybe erosion control, and if you're running short of dirt the rocks can take up some volume to use the available dirt on the face of the berm.
  • 6 0
 Mostly just cosmetic. I've always loved the look of stacked rocks on features + we had to put them somewhere haha.
  • 1 0
 @nateb: I do the same on my builds but always bury the rock in proper capping dirt.
  • 3 0
 I just bought a bike after many years hiatus. I likely won't jump on this (scary !) but dang it looks sweet. Nice work!
  • 3 0
 In a perfect world, there would be a story like this every day.
  • 4 0
 Dirt Artistry
  • 3 0
 This looks so good! the moss on the top of that berm is a great touch
  • 2 0
 Beautiful work. Always cool to see how trails and features develop over time. Can't wait to ride it once it's open!
  • 2 0
 Shoutout to all trail builders worldwide! You guys are truly appreciated! Trail kudos to all of you...
  • 1 0
 Ayyy Fredo!
  • 1 0
 @bikerdre: sup bro!
  • 2 0
 Awesome job fellas, now to nut up and try it out!
  • 3 0
 Nice work
  • 2 0
 Unreal!!! You guys are absolute legends
  • 1 0
 I always send it at my own rink.
(Yup, there is a typo in the pic's caption).
  • 2 0
 Great job guys!
  • 1 0
 You build great trails!! Keep it up!
  • 1 0
 nice works ! that berm really perfection







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