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04/2015

The Best Places to Mountain Bike in Canada

Pigs are Flying in Burns Lake
Pigs are Flying in Burns Lake

In the Game of Thrones universe, there’s another, little-known family known as the Pedalrians, with a proud tradition of providing rosy-cheeked soldiers to be cut down like weeds during the endless battles. Their motto: Summer is Coming. They inspired this post about the Top 10 Places to Mountain Bike in Canada. From single track double black diamonds to gentle multi-day provincial trails, who can blame them for wanting to get back on the saddle in:

Rossland, BC
When the Kootenay town of Rossland began hosting world-class races in the early 1990’s, it quickly become known as the Mountain Biking Capital of Canada.   Its “epic trail network” consists of 51 runs ranging from beginner greens to wild double black diamonds.  These excellently maintained trails include thrilling downhill single track and free-ride tracks, as well as the 36km-long Seven Summits, with its challenging 2875ft-elevation gain.

Mont St Anne, Quebec
Steep drops, sharp rocks, fast runs – no wonder the Mountain Biking World Cup visits Quebec’s Mont St Anne every year.   The resort’s high-speed gondola drops riders at the top of the mountain where they can choose from dozens of trails, mostly double-track with some spine-tingling (and hopefully not back-breaking) singletrack.   Gondolas service 5 downhill trails with 2000ft of vertical.  Open early June to October, an extensive bike park is on-site to brush up on your skills.

Vancouver North Shore Mountains

 


Hardwood Hills, ON
When Torontonians get tired of the extensive city trail network in the Don Valley, they head out of town to trails in the Kelso Conservation Area, or Durham Forest.   About 75km outside Toronto is Hardwood Hills, which has 34km of beautiful rolling double-track and another 50km of more intense singletrack, most notably the Radical, Crank’d, and Gnarly trails.  Bike rentals, food and accommodation are offered on site.    Other singletrack trails worth checking out in the area include Albion Hills, Kelso, 3 Stage and Buckswallow.

Burns Lake, BC
Naysayers told the fanatical local bike community of Burns Lake that a world-class bike park would only be built when pigs fly.  A few years later, When Pigs Fly is the name of one of the most popular runs at Burns Lake Trails, which has fast earned the Northern BC town a reputation for world-class tracks, incredible scenery and friendly locals.   With a local shuttle service provided, I spent a day testing my nerves on buffed single track, wild half pipes and bone-rattling corkscrews.  There are currently 30 trails appealing to riders of all levels, with names like Piglet, Smells like Bacon, Prok Grind and Porkupine.  Influential Bike Magazine called Burns Lake Trails “nirvana.”

Le P’tit Train du Nord, QC
Pack away your mountain biking armour but bring a corkscrew for this lovely 4-5 day ride along a former train track in the Laurentians.   The 200km-long mostly gravel trail takes you through lush countryside, charming villages and abandoned by beautifully restored train stations.   Shuttles drop off your luggage at B&B’s every day, while refreshments and meals are available in villages along the way.   The trail runs between St Jerome and Mon-Laurier, and can be as genteel as you make it.

The Confederation Trail, PEI

Bromont, QC 
85km east of Montreal is Ski Bromont, another ski resort that doubles as a world-class mountain bike destination in the summer.   There are around 20 marked bike trails served by ski-lifts, ranging from beginner to expert, and one of the biggest bike parks in the country.    Technical challenges on the runs include bridges, A-frames, berms and drops, but riders rave about the flow.   Drop off the kids at the adjacent waterpark and let ‘er rip!

Jasper National Park, AB
Riders typically like to shred down trails, which can put it at odds with the conservation and “leave only footprints” ethos of one of Canada’s oldest national parks.  Still, bikers have slowly carved out a niche for themselves within the park, establishing hundreds of kilometres of cross country singletrack trails throughout the Jasper Valley, offering up some of the most spectacular views in the country.  Riders are reminded to stick to the designated trails.  Local bike shops in town can provide bike rentals, sales, maintenance and handy advice, or you can download a handy mountain biking guide from Parks Canada.

Whistler, BC 
Whistler’s Mountain Bike Park deserves its global reputation as a paradise for mountain bikers.    The Garbanzo Zone offers 2165 vertical feet of single track downhill, serviced by a fast ski chair.   The Peak Zone, with its legendary Top of the World Alpine Trail, lets you ride amongst the spires and peaks of Whistler Mountain, descending through dense forest along a track loaded with berms, switchbacks, dips and jumps.  This was the first lift serviced alpine track in North America, recommended for advanced riders only.   Whistler’s Bike Park also encompasses the 8400 square foot covered indoor Air Dome (perfect for practising jumps and half pipes, since landing on foam is a lot softer than landing on rocks)

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