Feedback on towns to base 2017 BC road trip?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Feedback on towns to base 2017 BC road trip?

    I am planning a trip with my wife (non-rider) through BC in Summer 2017 (probably late July and early August). We will be driving up from Colorado.

    Looking through all the Sticky links (or most of them), I'm realizing I really need 2-3 years to ride everything and there is a lot of technical riding that may be above my skills / desires. I can probably pull off 2-3 weeks of mountain biking followed with a week of whatever my wife wants to tourist (probably Vancouver Island or Sunshine Coast). Maybe I can fit in a couple rides, but I think I better plan on mostly hanging with her.

    What generally works best for us is a house/condo rental for 4-5 days in a location so my wife can hang-out while I ride myself to exhaustion. So, I'm trying to find 3 towns to base my rides out of.

    In terms of "kind of trails" and riding ability, I generally like blue and black trails in Colorado, Utah and Arizona with a focus on slow technical moves and small jumps. I don't do double black with big jumps. Hangover and Hiline in Sedona are on the outer limits of my comfort level if you are familiar with those rides. I will be riding alone which I'm generally comfortable with (I carry a Spot and I guess I will need some bear spray) and I don't mind big climbs. In fact, I enjoy them.

    So (assuming you are still reading), I'm currently planning stays in:

    1. Fernie
    2. Revelstoke
    3. Squamish

    I have seen suggestions that I should hire a guide and spend a day at Whistler Park and that sounds like fun. Perhaps I should hire a bigger bike for that than my Evil Following.

    That list of towns leaves out Nelson, Northshore, Rossland and many others. I think Nelson and Northshore may largely be outside my abilities (as much as I hate to admit it). I might be able to hit Seven Summits in Rossland on the return drive.

    So, if you have any suggestions for towns that I should add or drop, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much.

    I promise I will leave BC and return to the US when my vacation is over!

  2. #2
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    Basing yourself in Whistler for a week would be sweet, as it has both tons of riding and tons of not biking things to do (ie you can definitely fill your not biking hanging out time there), if you are thinking of splitting up while you ride each day. 30ish minute drive to Pemberton and Squamish to hit those, and if you take the vehicle for the day your wife doesn't need one to get around whistler, or vise versa she takes car to check something out and you ride in Whistler.

    Revelstoke would be another awesome stop the riding has huge variety, I haven't done anything but biking there though but it's a pretty cool spot.

    This also gets you fairly close to the rockies if you want to 'tourist' in Banff+ jasper (the drive between the two is unreal).

    You could also 'tourist' Vancouver Island (Tofino is the hotspot there, Victoria is cool to check out too) but also ride a bit, two best areas for riding are around Duncan and around Cumberland. If you guys wanted to check out Vancouver you could definitely handle checking out the shore, lots of it is gnarly but lots of it isn't. There's also more riding in the towns a east of the city too.

    You were right that you really need 2-3 years to ride everything, I've lived here my whole life and haven't even come close, I've only suggested places I've spent time in, I would also consider Nelson and Rossland for stops but I haven't ridden there.

  3. #3
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    We will definitely look at Whistler versus Squamish as a base. I should be able to fit in a couple of rides around Vancouver Island if we go there and maybe I can check-out the areas you suggest. I think we might defer a visit to Vancouver - just in the interests of time.

    Thanks for all your feedback.

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    the spots you listed are AMAZING riding, but not sure that she will be happy as well? if she hikes, SUP's, or is outside active great, If not she might not be happy

    If you need an area to ride, that has MORE things to do for both you? banff/canmore/laek louise is an option

    fernie /kimberly might work too. (kimberly is really growning up and has some nice ride/food options) not as rad as fernie, but worth it.
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  5. #5
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    Thanks for the feedback. I concluded that Banff was a little far north and east for us on this road trip. Living in Colorado, we definitely want to spend time on the ocean and Banff is the other direction, but I will check it again on Google Maps.

    My wife has not started her research (she is an extensive researcher), but the one town that I think she might like that I dropped from the tentative list after considering the rides is Nelson. We tend to gravitate towards small, cool towns with an emphasis on good food and drinks. In any case, I think we will need to limit the trip to 3 main stops - plus the coast.

  6. #6
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    Keep in mind that a Canadian blue is a US black ability wise, mostly.

  7. #7
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    In general terms, a blue rated BC trail can still be quite technically challenging, steep even, and may have a lot of technical trail features like bridges, rock rolls and the like, but they will either be within a foot of the ground or will have an option line. Black diamond BC trails may have mandatory trail features (jumps, elevated ladder bridges or steep rock rolls) with no bypass available. The only difference between a blue and black rated trail can be one mandatory trail feature with no option line in the middle of an otherwise blue trail, so the trail ratings tend to prevent rude surprises for people riding on blue trails.

    In the Coastal mountain trails, if you can happily ride a Blue trail in Whistler, then you can tackle any Blue trail in Pemberton, Squamish or Whistler. But black trails still have a wide range of character, so clearing a black trail in Squamish doesn't necessarily mean you'd be as comfortable on Comfortably Numb in Whistler with the unrelenting technical nature of the trail. It's not that it is more technical, it is just the number of technical challenges per kilometre is very high.
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  8. #8
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    The cool thing about Nelson is that there are a number of cool towns nearby, usually within an hour to two hour drive. And they all have a wide variety of awesome riding.
    Kaslo, Rossland, Castlegar and New Denver. Couple of weeks worth of riding right there!

  9. #9
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    If you come to Victoria and want to ride PM me. The island is full of great riding and very few people.
    Safe riding,

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  10. #10
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    I'm a member of NSMBA and IMBA Canada

  11. #11
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    Three towns in three weeks.....you will get a good introduction

    Four towns in three weeks....you might not really get to know all the riding.

    Sometimes less is more???

  12. #12
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    Definately Nelson and Rossland, seven summits is incredable. Silver Star in Vernon can't be missed, there are all levels of trails in the Kootenays.

  13. #13
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    Thanks, everyone.

    The blue / black trail rating discussion is very helpful. I will put Nelson back on the list, but I agree that three towns in three weeks is the most we should plan for. And, everything else will need to saved for another trip.

  14. #14
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    3 towns in 3 weeks sounds about right. Why waste time traveling. Where I live on Vancouver Island we can drive 2 hours or less and get to half a dozen amazing and different riding spots. I'm sure we're not unique in this.

    A note about black diamond trails. I have discussed this with a few of my trail building friends and learned that our trails as well as many others are rated on the "Whistler Standard". A reason that many of our trails are surprisingly rated 1 black diamond is because they have bridges 1/2 as wide as they are high. This means that even a 4' wide bridge 8' off the ground makes the trail a black diamond.

    I don't know if you have a dropper, but I've been out with a few visitors that never saw the need before who ended up buying them here. They are as common as grips on bikes here.
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  15. #15
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    Been doing Whistler vacation a couple years now. We go for just over a week, and never set wheel in the park, except for Top of the World, where we deviate off onto Kyhber anyway. Whistler itself has a ton of XC trails within riding distance. And then you can drive 45min to Squamish, which is well worth the drive and filled with another ton of trails. We've thought of doing a Squamish stay instead, but finding nice condo accomodations in Whistler is easier. One of these times, we'll need to check out Pemberton.
    Just got from Revelstoke for snowboarding, second time there. Really like the town, it's chill small town, but you can find most of anything there. Good restaurants, good beer, good people.

  16. #16
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    Those are the big three.

    In terms of trail difficulty, like every where, BC trails are getting easier. There are still quite difficult trails but our blue and green trails are now blue and green trails. The local cycling clubs have done a great job of expanding their trail networks to suit a large variety of skill levels.
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  17. #17
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    Sounds like a great trip.
    I live in Fernie, it's a great little town, nearly all our trails fit solidly into that blue/black category. If you are coming here I could give you a good list of the must-do trails for your ability. All our trails (except shuttle trails) are rideable from town, so if you get accommodation in the town itself it'll give you a nice break from being in the car for a couple of days.

    Have you thought about Silverstar bike park, you could spend a few days in the Okanagan area, there's some nice lakes and a ton of wineries, so some touristy/wifey stuff and hit up Silverstar at the same time?

  18. #18
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    I've been busy with work, but my wife has been busy booking places. We ended with the following trip - beginning late July - early August:

    Fernie - 7 days
    Revelstoke - 4 days
    Naramata - 3 days
    Nelson - 6 days.

    Separately, we are flying out to Vancouver Island in May - playing tourists without bikes. I'm sure I'll wish I had one when we get there, but that will have to be another trip.

    snowboardjon - I'd love a list of Fernie don't miss trails if you get the time.

    Thanks everyone for your help. I will try and do a post-trip report.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN View Post
    Those are the big three.

    In terms of trail difficulty, like every where, BC trails are getting easier. There are still quite difficult trails but our blue and green trails are now blue and green trails. The local cycling clubs have done a great job of expanding their trail networks to suit a large variety of skill levels.

    Fondly remembering a trip to Nelson in '99. Placenta Descenta was "blue". We were on old school hard tails. I thought I was going to die. It had rained the night before, and silly us, we'd never heard of shuttling so we rode the whole 9? 11? miles up.

  20. #20
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    My Tips for Fernie.
    I'm assuming that you're mainly interested in blue/black trails, not the more gnarly shuttle/DH stuff.
    I would consider spending a mid week day at the ski hill, the Following would be a suitable bike for all of the trails off the elk chair, and it's super quiet up there mid week.

    Swine Flu - classic flow trail, steepish climb, good views over town.

    Hyperventilation/Hyper extension - steep climbing into technical but flowy descent.
    Extend by taking the resurrection turning and doing a montane/roots loop, or going back up Hypervent and taking the south castle turning over to southern comfort.

    Slunt - Climb up Phat Bastard-Lactic Ridge-Mocassassin. Decend Slunt-Brokeback. Extend by climbing back up Stove-Mushroom head and descending Red Sonja.

    P9/Verboten - these trails go well together, both accessed from the provincial park area (10min ride from town). These are about as technical as Fernie gets.

    Ridgemont area - there's a ton of shorter trails here that you can loop together to create as long of a ride as you want, more rolly terrain, good for a "rest day". An example of a good loop would be Cem bypass-Kiddie-Up-Queen V- Eco Terrorist-Deadfall-R Trail-Kids Stuff-Erics Trail-Road-Eco Terrorist-Sidewinder. But theres a ton of options.

    For Food - Yamagoya and Nevados are top of my list.
    If your looking for hikes the Mount Fernie Trail is a good one, also check out Island Lake Lodge.


    I'll edit this post if I think of anything else :-)

  21. #21
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    Stoked to see you added Naramata to the list, the region is gorgeous and the 3 blind mice trail network is amazing! You and your wife will both love that stop.

  22. #22
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    I am a little surprised that you did not mention lazy lizard. While I have not ridden some of the trails you have mentioned, I loved lazy lizard. Fast and flowy.

    as a complete aside, I have booked a mtn bike vacation with wandering wheels in revelstoke. It is about 60 more sleeps away.

    Quote Originally Posted by snowboardjon View Post
    My Tips for Fernie.
    I'm assuming that you're mainly interested in blue/black trails, not the more gnarly shuttle/DH stuff.
    I would consider spending a mid week day at the ski hill, the Following would be a suitable bike for all of the trails off the elk chair, and it's super quiet up there mid week.

    Swine Flu - classic flow trail, steepish climb, good views over town.

    Hyperventilation/Hyper extension - steep climbing into technical but flowy descent.
    Extend by taking the resurrection turning and doing a montane/roots loop, or going back up Hypervent and taking the south castle turning over to southern comfort.

    Slunt - Climb up Phat Bastard-Lactic Ridge-Mocassassin. Decend Slunt-Brokeback. Extend by climbing back up Stove-Mushroom head and descending Red Sonja.

    P9/Verboten - these trails go well together, both accessed from the provincial park area (10min ride from town). These are about as technical as Fernie gets.

    Ridgemont area - there's a ton of shorter trails here that you can loop together to create as long of a ride as you want, more rolly terrain, good for a "rest day". An example of a good loop would be Cem bypass-Kiddie-Up-Queen V- Eco Terrorist-Deadfall-R Trail-Kids Stuff-Erics Trail-Road-Eco Terrorist-Sidewinder. But theres a ton of options.

    For Food - Yamagoya and Nevados are top of my list.
    If your looking for hikes the Mount Fernie Trail is a good one, also check out Island Lake Lodge.


    I'll edit this post if I think of anything else :-)
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  23. #23
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    As long as you live up to that promise; and that, by then, you have fence climbing skills (The Northers Border) then why not look at Merritt; see Trailforks for all our trails; and you can take a spin to Kamloops and even Sun Peaks if you wish. DRY riding, as opposed to the Coastal rain/mud) and plenty of reas. motels etc. Lots of riders I can link you with; no obligation, but I always like a first day, at least, at a new area to get the local skinny.
    Let me know if yer interested and we can pm.
    Cheers.
    TS

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rocky Mtn View Post
    as a complete aside, I have booked a mtn bike vacation with wandering wheels in revelstoke. It is about 60 more sleeps away
    You're going to have a blast!

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  25. #25
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    Thanks so much for all this. There seems to be so many trails, it is almost overwhelming. And, food recommendations at no extra charge! Thanks again.

  26. #26
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    I just wanted to post a quick follow-up on my trip to BC for those who might run across this thread in the future.

    I almost feel like I should keep it a secret, but the trails in the towns we visited were amazing and the number of trail users was far less than what I'm used to in the Colorado Front Range. It has been super dry in BC this summer so the trails were in pretty tough condition and the fire smoke blocked much of the views, but I still had a great time. Thanks to everyone who builds and maintains trails in these areas.

    First, I want to say that I think that the trail ratings are understated relative to what I generally see in Colorado, but maybe not a full rating difference (e.g., BC blue is more difficult than CO blue, but not necessarily CO black). Mainly, the challenges I encountered (ignoring the optional trail features) were old school fall-line roots and rocks. Something that I enjoy and which is getting more difficult to find in the US.

    Also, it was refreshing to feel that as a mountain biker in Canada, I was no less of a trail user than others. Pretty much all the trails are game for mountain biking every day and the only directional trails were bike downhill only. And, everyone was courteous and friendly.

    I enjoyed all four areas (Fernie, Revelstoke, Naramata and Nelson), but Fernie was the highlight of the trip for my style of riding. At least 5 major riding areas; all accessible from town. Snowboardjon's recommendations were spot on (thank you so much). All the trails were well signed and I could have easily spent a second week in Fernie. If it is still a secret, I think it will soon be out.

    Nelson was the most technically challenging (at least for the trails I sampled), but still the blue trails were doable. I agree that the trail ratings in Nelson do tend to understate the difficulty more so than the other areas. But, I was still able to ride blues and some blacks. I definitely used my kneepads though.

    I would highly recommend a road trip to sample the trails in BC if the above sounds fun to you. I'm trying to figure out when I can swing my next trip.

  27. #27
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    Glad you liked my Fernie list, and had an awesome trip. Just got back from a little Nelson trip myself, been there before but enjoyed riding some new trails too. so much good riding in BC.

  28. #28
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    tomis916...thanks for checking back in. I've been following this thread the whole time. We're doing our own two week+ road trip next July and I need all the intel I can get. We'll be concentrating our time in Whistler & Squamish but coming home via Fernie is an on the list of possibilities. We'll see how it plays out.
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  29. #29
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    I'm glad to help. I'm thankful for all the advice I got through this forum.

    I hope to travel further west in BC on another trip. There is just so much to ride. Good luck on your trip.

  30. #30
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    Hey transition....can you elaborate a bit on thiss area. I'm reading this thread, similar question for 5-6 days of riding vs. 3 weeks, and am looking at your suggestions and its sweet.

    Can we do three full days there and then head to a more costal area to get best of both worlds? will be our first trip out there. same riding level as the OP. No elevated bridges and jumps here but ok with all day XC technical riding/back country kind of stuff. happy to take onto PM.

  31. #31
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    This has been a super helpful thread. I'm planning a 5-6 day trip and based on your riding style etc Fernie and Merritt are now on my list of places to check out.

  32. #32
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    Hey; Merritt and the Nicola Valley has 3 full days of epic ridin.
    See Trailforks for my new TOUR; my Canada 150 project to link our 4 main mountains.
    Let me know when yer comin and I'll tour you; or find buddies that will be available.
    Payback for all the hospitality I've received.
    Cheers,
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    amazingly kind....

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