Need some advice: 4 days Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton, North Van?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Need some advice: 4 days Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton, North Van?

    I ride 90% XC out east, probably nothing terribly gnarly by PNW standards. I dabble at the DH parks (Bromont, etc) with my 140mm Stumpjumper but generally don't do double black technical trails because I find them too steep, maybe if I had a DH bike it would be different maybe I'm just a *****, not sure. Probably useless references but something like Fraidy Cat at Kal Park in Vernon, or the steep part at the end of Highline in Sedona I had to walk. I don't really do jumps, I prefer technical trails. And I really enjoy scenic trails, I loved Sedona for that. Fun, technical, and scenic all on the same trail.

    So now that you know my life story, what do you recommend? What's the best way to spend 4 days? I know I definitely want to do a day at the bike park in Whistler though hopefully it's not wasted on me with skill level. I want to ride Top of the World to Khybers. How long does a lap take? Would it be better to make it part of a bike park day when I have a DH rental, or rent a trail bike and do top of the world and then spend the rest of the day in the valley trails?

    Any advice would be great, just want to make the most of my limited time

  2. #2
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    When are your 4 days going to happen? If you're including Whistler you will want to avoid August for Crankwork as the place is packed.

    If you want premium single track XC experience, you could easily burn up a couple of days riding blue intermediate and black diamond trails in and around Squamish and another big day in Pemberton, you have to earn the descents in both locations, and Pemberton has some huge elevation options.

    Pemberton, British Columbia Mountain Bike Trails | Trailforks

    There's some blue trails on Mt.Seymour and Mt.Fromme in North Vancouver that have been part of BC Bike Race, but honestly, Squamish has more loamy long ride choices, the North Shore trails tend to be shorter and require a lot of rides back up for the next lap, where Squamish has more options for big loops.

    In the east, trail ratings are usually related to elevation, steepness and technical difficulty, but black diamond out here often means that there are mandatory technical trail features like elevated bridges, skinnies, drops or steep rock rolls, or exposure, with no option line, as well as being steep and technical. If you are used to riding single black diamond XC trails at Bromont or MSA, the blue intermediate XC trails here are often about the same.

    It sounds like you might want to do one of the guided lesson days at Whistler Bike Park as much of the park is either big or technical, and sometimes both. That way you can rent a DH bike and get some expert training for how to ride that park. That way you won't find yourself on something you're not comfortable with, and you can maximize your fun level without dodging 15 year old rippers doing warp speed runs. There's lots of trails around Whistler that are challenging and fun without paying for the lift ticket.

    Even Top of the World would benefit from a solid AM bike as it is still a black diamond trail. Some average ride times are shown on the Trailforks pages.

    Top of the World Mountain Bike Trail - Whistler Mountain Bike Park, Whistler
    Khyber Pass Mountain Bike Trail - Whistler South, Whistler
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  3. #3
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    Thanks that's a lot of great information, I'll be there the last few days of July or so. So from what I gather you think it would be better spread my time around, Whistler, Squamish and Pemberton instead of spending all my time riding in Whistler? I've heard so much about "north shore riding" over the years, is the riding really better everywhere else?

    As for Top of the World, looks like a lap takes about an hour, so could probably just fit it into my day at the bike park and ride it on a DH rental, then do my XC days in Squamish or Pemberton?

    The only BC singletrack I have experience with was in Vernon, I was there a couple days visiting family so I rode all the XC trails in Kal and Ellison parks and wasn't really impressed. All the blue and blacks were easy but there were no wooden features, or nice berms, or even any little features to drop off. Our trails back east in the Laurentiens are much more fun and developed. But the double black trails (there was only two) were intense, kicked things up more than a notch. It was a big jump from black to double black.

    So yeah, I basically want to ride singletrack that will ****ing ruin me for riding singletrack anywhere else Or something super scenic like Top of the World, Sedona, etc.



    Quote Originally Posted by rockyuphill View Post
    When are your 4 days going to happen? If you're including Whistler you will want to avoid August for Crankwork as the place is packed.

    If you want premium single track XC experience, you could easily burn up a couple of days riding blue intermediate and black diamond trails in and around Squamish and another big day in Pemberton, you have to earn the descents in both locations, and Pemberton has some huge elevation options.

    Pemberton, British Columbia Mountain Bike Trails | Trailforks

    There's some blue trails on Mt.Seymour and Mt.Fromme in North Vancouver that have been part of BC Bike Race, but honestly, Squamish has more loamy long ride choices, the North Shore trails tend to be shorter and require a lot of rides back up for the next lap, where Squamish has more options for big loops.

    In the east, trail ratings are usually related to elevation, steepness and technical difficulty, but black diamond out here often means that there are mandatory technical trail features like elevated bridges, skinnies, drops or steep rock rolls, or exposure, with no option line, as well as being steep and technical. If you are used to riding single black diamond XC trails at Bromont or MSA, the blue intermediate XC trails here are often about the same.

    It sounds like you might want to do one of the guided lesson days at Whistler Bike Park as much of the park is either big or technical, and sometimes both. That way you can rent a DH bike and get some expert training for how to ride that park. That way you won't find yourself on something you're not comfortable with, and you can maximize your fun level without dodging 15 year old rippers doing warp speed runs. There's lots of trails around Whistler that are challenging and fun without paying for the lift ticket.

    Even Top of the World would benefit from a solid AM bike as it is still a black diamond trail. Some average ride times are shown on the Trailforks pages.

    Top of the World Mountain Bike Trail - Whistler Mountain Bike Park, Whistler
    Khyber Pass Mountain Bike Trail - Whistler South, Whistler

  4. #4
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    The three mountains on the North Shore all have challenging trails, and all have slightly different personalities, including a different quotient of wood features, exposed rock, loam and chunder. But because almost all the trails are fairly short in length and require a fair bit of pedaling to get back up again, it isn't the same sort of experience as you can get in Squamish and Pemby. You also don't get a lot of scenic views on the North Shore, as you're deep in the trees. There is the nudist colony off of Mountain Highway, but you don't get much of a view from the road.

    Mt.Fromme is almost all accessed from Mountain Highway (there's some new climbing trails that give you some options for getting back up), but generally you ride up Mountain Highway and then pick a downhill route and then repeat.

    Mount Fromme Mountain Bike Trails | Trailforks

    Cypress and Seymour have some shuttle options for getting up, but otherwise they are similar in that the trails point mostly downhill. Cypress is the rockier option.

    Cypress Mountain Bike Trails | Trailforks

    Mount Seymour Mountain Bike Trails | Trailforks

    If riding the North Shore is on your bucket list, then rent a 150mm travel bike from Endless Biking, bring your full face helmet and body armour and spend a day sampling the trails, it is a unique trail experience. It is a whole different level of technical from anywhere else (except maybe the World Cup DH course at MSA).

    But if you're after long ride loops with more loam and less pucker factor, Squamish is an XC/AM paradise and Pemberton is like it's slightly crankier and more rugged big brother. It has views and mountain vistas galore. It's easy to put long loops together in the various trail areas of Squamish and just keep going and going until your legs are done.

    Here's some current (somewhat eyeshaking) videos of trails in Squamish, most of these are single black diamond or blue intermediate

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCK_...sLZU5H0qG5yieQ

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbX...LPMDlkaI1DO82Q

    Whistler's natural trails can be challenging, something like Comfortably Numb is a bucket list ride, but it is unrelenting in the effort and attention needed. But there are lots of less soul/butt numbing rides too, so you don't need to feel like you missed your chance if you got to Whistler and only rode the trails outside the park, you'd still know you accomplished something.

    Whistler is only 45 minutes away from Squamish, and Pemberton another 30 minutes beyond so you could make Whistler your base and drive to Squamish or Pemberton and not spend a big part of your day moving locations.
    Last edited by rockyuphill; 04-02-2016 at 06:31 PM.
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  5. #5
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    Awesome, I didn't realize North Shore riding was so gnarly, full face and armour? Wow ok. Sounds like Squamish is not to be missed, if you have any suggestions for a ideal 3-4 hour non full face ride feel free to share.

  6. #6
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    There are blue trails on the North Shore where you could skip the full face helmet, but you'd want a full face helmet and armour to spend a day riding as there are steep sections where the consequences of mistakes can really hurt. Here's some typical north shore trails.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s55s8IEg0iQ

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QP-6aNq8QzU

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoAABMXZb9o

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSzy0fN8q30

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0WejqUzqJ8

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Wday6JDhJU (typical Seymour black diamond trail)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6zLQQ9rUr8 (blue trail) on the North Shore

    In Squamish, you could do any of the blue intermediate trails in XC kit, but even in Squamish the black diamond trails really make a full face helmet a good plan as the consequences of missing a feature or messing up a rock drop or ladder can be severe. Or the speeds on some of the new blue intermediate and black diamond flow trails make a full face safer.

    In Squamish, in the Garibaldi Highlands/Alice Lake area, you can easily do 3-4 hours on the blue intermediate trails and the green/blue climbing trails. There's another batch of blue trails in Valleycliffe on the south end of Squamish. Trailforks has listings for all those areas, and elevation profiles.

    Alice Lake & Highlands Mountain Bike Trails | Trailforks

    Valleycliffe, Squamish Mountain Bike Trails | Trailforks

    Even the green trails in Squamish like Jack's Trail, Cliff's and Rob's Corners and Wonderland make a nice link to other blue trails.
    Last edited by rockyuphill; 04-02-2016 at 06:29 PM.
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  7. #7
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    Top of the world to Khyber I would rate as double black. Khyber pass is not a bike park trail, it 'leaves the boundary'. Parts of Khyber and all the trails past the end of Khyber pass are really hard (some options past there), top of the world to the bike park trails is fine.

    The suggestion of a bike park 'lesson' is a good one. Group programs that include the DH bike rental make it a no brainer. You could end up with me lol.

    Make Whistler your 'base' and check out squamish and/or Pemberton, the weather can help guide your decision a bit, Pemberton can sometimes be like 10 degrees hotter than Whistler.

    End of July keep an eye on dates, Pemberton music festival (basically avoid Pemberton during that festival) and iron man (highway gets closed for most of a day) events could have an effect on your plans. Whistler is busy all summer, book accommodation early IMO.

    IMO think about doing more than one day in the bike park, it's really really really fun. The north shore is awesome too but you only have 4 days (not enough stay longer!)


    Trails suggested are great. If you go for the lesson idea then you could pick your guides brain for rides that hit your skill level as well.

    The number of options is overwhelming.

  8. #8
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    Thanks Rockyuphill I made good note of your recommendations.
    Iam planning a trip for 5/6 friends and me. We decided last friday that the "west was the best" beginning of august. After 2 years in a row of MOAB, witch is very very fun. We want to try somethings else. And Iam not talking about our Loony. So, of course Squamish was the first place I think of, but a first check up at the lodging proove to be a no go - No vacancy- pretty much every where. We will ride there 1 day going up and once when we come back .Whisler is next up the road but turn out to be difficult to find someplace to live affortable for our 6 days stay 7 guests We also plan to spend 3 days riding the coast at the end or the beginning.After a few night watching YouTube. Pemberton was my choice. 45 km from whistler, so who we will still ride 2 or 3 days. In Pemberton their 7 or 8 trails that are a must do and redo for us.
    I also bought those guides:Sea to Sky guidebooks bundle ? bikepirate
    Pretty well done (iam old (43)I like paper). It gives you all the trails with descriptions, how to get their and what trails you have access to from where you are.
    We are advance all-mountainers, racing xc for fun at the club, and dhing douzaine time a year for fun to. So we go to use the place.

  9. #9
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    Oh yeah, North Shore trails, Wade Simmons style

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cadoretteboat View Post
    Thanks Rockyuphill I made good note of your recommendations.
    Iam planning a trip for 5/6 friends and me. We decided last friday that the "west was the best" beginning of august. After 2 years in a row of MOAB, witch is very very fun. We want to try somethings else. And Iam not talking about our Loony. So, of course Squamish was the first place I think of, but a first check up at the lodging proove to be a no go - No vacancy- pretty much every where. We will ride there 1 day going up and once when we come back .Whisler is next up the road but turn out to be difficult to find someplace to live affortable for our 6 days stay 7 guests We also plan to spend 3 days riding the coast at the end or the beginning.After a few night watching YouTube. Pemberton was my choice. 45 km from whistler, so who we will still ride 2 or 3 days. In Pemberton their 7 or 8 trails that are a must do and redo for us.
    I also bought those guides:Sea to Sky guidebooks bundle ? bikepirate
    Pretty well done (iam old (43)I like paper). It gives you all the trails with descriptions, how to get their and what trails you have access to from where you are.
    We are advance all-mountainers, racing xc for fun at the club, and dhing douzaine time a year for fun to. So we go to use the place.
    Try airbnb for Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton.
    Also, there is a place called Squamish Adventure Inn & Hostel. It is fine for a group and well situated if you want to travel all over.

    North Shore is a must.

    Do a shuttle up to CBC on Mt Seymour and you will love it!
    Then just climb Good Sir Martin (uphill) and hit Severed D(ick) and then again to Forever After.

    Mt. Fromme is awesome too. Some really fun ones there.
    Pipeline. Expresso. Seventh Secret. and so many more. If you miss Pipeline and Seventh-Secret-and connected trails, then you might as well stay out East!

    Trailforks has them all mapped out really well.


    And make sure to post pics after your trip! I think you need to change the plans and take a full month to visit

  11. #11
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    Great data in here for trip we are considering. Glad I found it.

    When does the riding become consistently reliable in the Squamish/Pemberton area?

    A group of us always travel West from Vermont, USA each Spring and want as consistent weather/trail conditions as possible (Which is why we usually hit the desert!!).

    Thanks!

  12. #12
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    Depending on the winter, Squamish become rideable anywhere from early March to late April (but rain is an ever present in this part of the world, so it is primarily snow melt at altitude that determines that). Wet or damp trails are generally still rideable unless it has been a deluge. By late May the Squamish trails are usually clear of snow unless we have record snowfalls. Pemberton would likely be late May or early June to have snow off most of the higher trails.

    This was Squamish in early March in 2010

    Need some advice: 4 days Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton, North Van?-2010_0306new0010.jpg

    This was the same area of trails in Squamish in late March 2011

    Need some advice: 4 days Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton, North Van?-2011_0326new0016.jpg
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  13. #13
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    Thanks. As a skier, I follow the snow so I guess we will see how things go.

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