October 19, 2017
Small towns might not get all the attention of big towns, or the cachet of big cities, but they’re often fiercely independent, impressively creative, and…
By Mike Berard September 19, 2017 #php comments_number('0 Comment', '1 Comment', '% Comments'); ?> #php echo wpb_get_post_views(get_the_ID()); ?>
With the last sunny days of summer on the horizon, mountain bikers are getting excited for what might be called the season of singletrack—autumn. Fall mountain biking in BC brings cooler temperatures, beautiful colours, and, of course, tacky dirt to replace the dusty trails of summer. Here are a few locations, trails, and alpine rides you might want to hit up before the snow falls because, like summer before it, autumn disappears quicker than most want.
This tiny town in Vancouver Island’s Comox Valley rides best in autumn. Like a miniature Squamish, Cumberland’s trails offer the full spectrum of riding, from beautiful-but-beginner singletrack set in stands of emerald forest, to the steep and gnarly descents only found after epic climbs. A strong trail building community here ensures a few new trails every visit, and the quaint, one-street town now has a stunning dirt jump park to add to its growing reputation as BC’s best town for two wheels. Island Mountain Rides offers half and full day guided experiences in the area, making sure you get the inside scoop on all the best trails.
Trail Suggestions: Space Nugget, Blue Collar, and Vanilla
Far from the hustle and bustle of southern BC, the uncrowded Valemount Bike Park is a relatively new player in BC’s thriving bike park market. With 18 trails and a growing community of riders, mountain bikers who want something new should make the trip northeast for this hidden jewel. The park features machine-built downhill trails with berms and drops, an uphill-specific climbing trail, and a new shuttle as of summer 2017. The Peak Shuttles service offers rides to the top in a van affectionately named “Vanborghini.”
Trail Suggestions: Bacon, Tinfoil Hat, and Highroller
Northern BC continues to gain a reputation as a mountain bike destination in its own right. In Burns Lake, the fat-tired attractions are numerous, from a strong trail network featuring great downhill and classic singletrack on Boer Mountain, to the Burns Lake Bike Park, to a skills park, pump track, and dirt jump park. The Kager Lake Recreation Site is situated in middle of the Boer Mountain trail network, making it an ideal set up for families who ride.
Trail Suggestions: When Pigs Fly, Charlotte’s Web, and Razorback
An overlooked corner of the province when it comes to tantalizing singletrack and big mountain ranges, Smithers and Terrace are two towns that know how to treat riders. In Smithers, there are three riding areas. The Bluff Recreation Area features some classic freeride and downhill trails, with both technical and flowy options being offered. Piper Recreation Area at Upper Hudson Bay Mountain is a full-on shuttle downhill trail network comprised of three options, with the most famous feature being a gap jump over a downed Piper aircraft. Ptarmingan Recreation Trails is the flow-heavy, all mountain option most riders will be comfortable with. In Terrace, trails invite riders of all abilities. Thornhill Mountain leans more towards downhill singletrack, whereas Terrace Mountain is well-rounded with all-mountain, cross country, and downhill riding options all represented. There’s even a bike skills park in town. For an epic alpine ride, Maroon Mountain is a must-hit slice of beautiful singletrack.
Trail Suggestions (Smithers): Anti Flo, Smoothy, and Backdoor
Trail Suggestions (Terrace): Big Easy, Downtube, and Maroon Mountain
A hidden treasure in a part of BC better known for historic gold mining towns rather than singletrack riding, Wells has a small network of seven trails and a grassroots feel. Steep, rocky wagon trails have been turned into proper riding options, including a few steep and technical options. Wells is a reminder that, while BC boasts some of the best riding in the world in towns with very recognizable names, every town in the province offers solid riding.
Trail Suggestions: Sugar Creek Loop, Prosperpine Trail, and Cow Mountain Ditch Line
Mountain biking high in the mountains above the tree line but below the snow is a unique experience, and fall is the best season for it. Cooler temperatures keep the bugs away and the sweat to a minimum. Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t perspire. The hallmarks of an alpine ride include long times in the saddle, panoramic views, and big elevation gains. Revel in the beautiful suffering.
Lakes, wildflowers, expansive views and alpine meadows; Frisby Ridge is the model alpine mountain bike trail. Do your research before you go, though. Too early and deal with snow or trail closures due to mountain cariboo. Too late and the trail gets damaged by wet weather. If you do arrive to find the trail closed, try Flowdown on Mount Macpherson for a similiar experience.
Its official name may be the Sproatt Alpine Multi-Use Trail, but good luck finding anyone in Whistler who doesn’t call it Lord of the Squirrels. Once accessed only by a grueling hike-a-bike, this smooth slice of intermediate trail allows for access to alpine lakes and views unlike any other. Oh, it also comes with close to 1,000 metres of descent.
It’s time to get on your bike a few more times before the snow flies.
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