The annual Evergreen Mountain Bike Festival at the beloved Duthie Hill Bike Park in Issaquah, Washington brought us within hours of the legendary mossy slabs and loamy steeps of British Columbia. With an opening in our Push to Start Summer Tour schedule, we opted to “take the long way around” for a detour de British Columbia on our way to Sun Valley, Idaho. On a whim we fled north from Seattle, first stopping in Bellingham to soak up as much lush Washington terrain as possible. We roughly sketched out what our next week might hold – entering the mecca via Vancouver, heading north to Pemberton, then working our way east and south to depart the country via Rossland. We let our trip unfold hour by hour, trying to make time to ride in all the spots we’ve read and seen so much about.
Bellingham – As one of the closest U.S. cities to the US-BC border, Bellingham has created a reputation as a mountain bike paradise in its own right. Trail systems include Galbraith Mountain and Chuckanut Mountain Park, both an easy pedal from town, along with many other standalone trails in the region. The downtown offered too many delicious eats to fit it all in, but we made sure not to miss the new (and to die for) flavors Mallard’s Ice Cream concocts. Kitsbow ambassador and friend, Jeff Kendall-Weed showed us around his new backyard, Galbraith, making for a great stopover.
Whistler – The mecca is all the hype and then some. Trails on trails on trails make Whistler a prime destination for riders of all interests and ability levels. Plenty of trails to pedal or spend some time in the bike park. Never been ridden in a bike park? Take a lesson, it will improve your riding! Some of our favorite non bike park trails in Whistler include Business Time, Out There, Microclimate, and Comfortably Numb for a longer XC ride. Whatever you choose in Whistler, you will not be disappointed. For one of our nights, we ditched the van and hoteled it in the village, which allowed us to soak after some long days in the saddle.
Pemberton – Situated just north of Whistler, the sleepy town of Pemberton is quickly gaining traction as a premier stop at the end of the Sea to Sky Highway. Historically a remote agricultural community, Pemberton has continued to grow in popularity, with millennials looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Vancouver while avoiding the resort costs of Whistler. Recent trail development has also given the mountain town extensive recreational opportunities thus attracting even more residents and visitors. With just enough decadent amenities in town, Pemberton is home to decadent eateries like Blackbird Bakery, Mile One Eatery, and a tasty health food store/smoothie bar. Massive views of jagged Mount Currie make any patio seat in town an epic place to a beverage or bite to eat. Pemberton was by far our favorite spot on the trip, and it was hard to motivate to leave, but with the week flying by, we felt we had to continue on to keep scoping out the country.
Pro Van Tip: The Pemberton Community Center offers showers for $3.50, right downtown in a new and friendly facility.
Revelstoke – Known more for their massive winters, accessible heli and cat skiing, and as the gateway to the Selkirk mountains, Revelstoke is a beautiful mountain town with ample access to amazing mountain biking. Our stopover in Revelstoke greeted us with beautiful weather and great dirt. We spent an evening camped up in the Mt. Macpherson riding zone, which made evening and early morning laps super accessible. A smattering of trails help create an extensive network at Macpherson and riders of all interests and ability levels will enjoy the views from these well-constructed trails.
Pro Van Tip: Always talk to the locals. The Craft Bierhaus not only served up the best and most decadent mac and cheese of our trip, but also the best recommendation for an overnight adventure on our way to Nelson. The Halfway Hotspring offered a handful of natural and manmade pools in the Kootenays and a much-needed soak towards the end of our trip.
Nelson – Judging by the vast selection of choice trails in Nelson speaks to the size of the mountain bike community in this beautiful river town. An extensive trail network on Morning Mountain offers up new school trails like Turnstyle, a machine-cut flow trail with massive jumps and berms, along with old school classics like Bedframe, a slow, techy downhill with massive rock rolls and beautiful views of town.
Rossland – Just a short drive from the US-Canadian border, but tucked high in the Monashee Mountains, Rossland is coined as BC’s alpine town. Since ‘93 the town has also been known as the mountain bike capital of Canada. With an extensive trail offering, Rossland’s riding features an array of trail experiences, from the beautiful high alpine Seven Summits ride to more gravity-oriented trails like the Flume, Cherry Poppins, and Whiskey. One thing is for sure: this scenic town in the Canadian Rockies is a true mountain bike town with easy driving access from the U.S.
Summer Solstice provided for a fitting finale to the end of our Tour de Canada. With the sun setting shy of 10pm, we had all the daylight we needed to cram as many miles as we could handle pedaling and driving. Gratified with the riding, camping and many meals prepared out of the van, we were not at all ready to leave, but our summer holds plenty more adventure ahead. From the loam and ferns we head to wildflowers, massive mountains and drier soils of Idaho, but we’re already looking forward to our return to the mountain biking motherland.
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