Vancouver Squamish novice trails- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Vancouver Squamish novice trails

    Wondering if anyone from that area can comment on XC type trails suitable for a east coast intermediate riders.
    We are strongly considering a honeymoon trip to the area but don't want to find that the only XC riding is too much for us. We tried Snowshoe WV last summer and while the resort DH riding was good for me, the fiancee was reduced to a couple fireroads that quickly became boring. Riding outside of Snowshoe presented lots of opportunities for XC stuff but the altitude and size/frequency of climbs just killed my girl and did not put big grins on my face either. So we are looking for long but relatively non demanding rides, technical stuff is no biggy excepting drops and jumps are still a bit much for her.
    Ive scoured the likes of Everytrail, Trails.com etc but mostly come up with DH runs in that area...in a perfect world it would be nice to come up with GPS tracks to examine for planning purposes.
    TIA
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  2. #2
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    Squamish has some of the best XC trails around. The area around Alice Lake has lots of pleasant XC stuff with natural terrain (without skinnies and drops). Check out the map for the Test of Metal XC race http://testofmetal.com/media/Maps/2008TestMap.pdf for an idea of where the trails are and how they relate to each other.

    And check out http://sorca.ca/ for more info. You can get maps from MEC or the bike shops in Squamish.
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  3. #3
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    Hmmm....9 Mile Hill ...Bonk Hill..sounds like the Test is just that....
    I've checked out some GPS tracks of the TOM, I'll have to do a detailed
    inspection with Topofusion to see if its something we could do
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  4. #4
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    The area around Alice Lake, Garibaldi Heights and Crumpit Woods are both moderate elevation changes (by coastal mountain standards), you don't have to do Ring Creek Rip or 9 mile hill (even though it's a lot of fun to come down once you've gone up). Once you're in the coastal mountains they tend to be produce a fair bit of elevation change in a short distance. If you look at the North Shore mountains in North Vancouver, they go from sea level to 1000m in 8km from the shoreline.

    Squamish trails can have a slightly less technical trail surface than North Vancouver, even the XC stuff in North Vancouver tends to have a lot of trails that look like this...

    Vancouver Squamish novice trails-2010_0124new0024.jpg

    Vancouver Squamish novice trails-2010_0124new0026.jpg

    Where the trails around Alice Lake tend to look like this... (it's a subtle difference I know)

    4 lakes A.jpg

    4 lakes E.jpg
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  5. #5
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    In Vancouver proper there's also Pacific Spirit Park out near UBC, lots of trails, most of the trails have been park-ified with a "all season surface", but you can kill a couple of hours riding all the trails, minimal elevation change, no technical challenges at all really, but it is in a real forest. Southwest Marine trail (28 on the map) is the most fun riding west to east. If you start a ride from Spanish Banks at the beach parking, it's a big climb right away up to Chancellor Blvd, but when you come back to the beach at the end of the ride, you can hang out at the beach.
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  6. #6
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    Smile

    There are scads of XC trails in Squamish. Pick up a bike map from one of the local shops (I like Tantalus Bikes). The map is updated a few time each season with all the newest trails, and it's very easy to follow. It very clearly indicates the difficulty level of each trail.

    Lots of riding without too much climbing around the Alice Lake area however, like most of BC, most of the best rides do involve some climbing to get to. The nice thing about the Alice Lake area is that you can link a bunch of different trails together and spend 4-5 hours riding, do a quick rip for 30-40 minutes, or something in between.

    Whistler is also just up the road from Squamish, and has some fantastic XC riding as well. Check out the Lost Lake trails. Contrary to the name, it's very hard to get lost there. The trails are very well marked, and you probably don't even need a map. The trails start right behind Cross Country Connection (bike shop). There's constant up and down climbing in the lost lake trails, but no major grunts. All singletrack. As much fun the 50th time as the first.

    The North Shore of Vancouver has phenomenal riding, but most people probably wouldn't call it cross-country.

    Both Squamish and Whistler have miles of singletrack and could keep you occupied for months.

    You should stop "strongly considering" and start "seriously planning"!

    Have a great trip!

  7. #7
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    Great info people, I guess I should have added that part of the reason for keeping the climbing reasonable is that we are 59 and 56 respectively and second year mountain bikers with just under 600 miles experience.
    Last year my lady was approaching "animal" status at one point and if she can get back to that level, Squamish will be fun. Trail wise we could probably handle the Vancouver trails but it does look like you have to be pretty selective not to to have big climbs
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  8. #8
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    The North Shore is full of trails with at least 300-500m of elevation change on a ride. It's almost impossible to find a ride with less than 150m of climbing in one go, although rarely steeper than 8% grade for extended climbs, there's often short punchy climbs that might be 15-20% grade over 100m distance.

    Fisherman's Trail runs 6km along the Seymour River in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve in North Vancouver, there's a 100m or so fire road type drop to the river level and then it's fairly flat till mid valley lookout where it climbs back up again.

    A particularly handy resource to avoid ending up on a North Vancouver trail that might be excessively technical is a website called Gutsploder which has a topo map of each mountain and the little green dots are links to photos taken along the trails.

    http://www.gutsploder.net/maps/Seymour.htm
    http://www.gutsploder.net/maps/Fromme.htm

    Here's a trail map of Mt. Fromme, you can compare the trail rating to those pics on Gutsploder.

    http://www.nsmba.bc.ca/cms/pdf/MapOfFromme.pdf

    Where North Vancouver trails are marked up to the blue square intermediate level, that generally means no elevated man made trail features, but there may be bridges, or man made trail features on the ground, or elevated features with a option for bypass. The trail rating system won't match anything you'd see at ski hills in Quebec or Ontario, where the black diamond rating might be from total elevation change and a more challenging trail surface, in North Van a black diamond trail it means that there may be elevated manmade technical trail features, and there may be no bypass or option.

    The Bridle Path that runs across Seymour is the most XC of the popular bike trails, there's people that can ride this on old school hardtails and more on 6x6 bikes. It goes up and down across the shoulder of the mountain. Here's a few shots of Bridle Path.
    Attached Images Attached Images    
    Attached Images Attached Images
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  9. #9
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  10. #10
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    Come to Whistler

    Whistler is a resort town with a huge mountain biking culture - with a large network of trails that were built specifically with novices and intermediates in mind. As someone else mentioned, the Lost Lake trails sound perfect for you - trailhead located 1/2 mile from the village, containing everything from 'fire road' riding to moderately technical singletrack with no more than about 100 feet of vertical. Of course there is the bike park and the 'radical' trails, but the Municipality has made a special effort to build trails for all skill levels in the Lost Lake area (not to mention all the other trails in the valley). I know lots of people that love these trails, ranging from people who took up mountain biking in their 60's to my 6 year old daughter.

    Squamish and Vancouver both have places you can go to get either the novice experience with little climbing or a more advanced experience (as others mentioned) but it I think you will like the Whistler experience for your requirements, partly because it is so compact and there are many other activities for your honeymoon (my god, I sound like I should be working for the tourist bureau).

  11. #11
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    Thanks, after the above input and watching a lot of whistler trail videos we decided that it was within out capabilities and your post makes it even more inviting. Not sure if we can do the honeymoon there but worst case we'll make it in '011


    Quote Originally Posted by whistlerrider
    Whistler is a resort town with a huge mountain biking culture - with a large network of trails that were built specifically with novices and intermediates in mind. As someone else mentioned, the Lost Lake trails sound perfect for you - trailhead located 1/2 mile from the village, containing everything from 'fire road' riding to moderately technical singletrack with no more than about 100 feet of vertical. Of course there is the bike park and the 'radical' trails, but the Municipality has made a special effort to build trails for all skill levels in the Lost Lake area (not to mention all the other trails in the valley). I know lots of people that love these trails, ranging from people who took up mountain biking in their 60's to my 6 year old daughter.

    Squamish and Vancouver both have places you can go to get either the novice experience with little climbing or a more advanced experience (as others mentioned) but it I think you will like the Whistler experience for your requirements, partly because it is so compact and there are many other activities for your honeymoon (my god, I sound like I should be working for the tourist bureau).
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  12. #12
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    Here's some more ideas for a good XC honeymoon:

    Squamish - lots of good stuff for intermediate riders. Alice Lake Prov. Park especially, but be aware that much of the nicest singletrack is closed to bikes in the summer. Other areas in Squamish outside the park are a little tougher, but still reasonable.

    Whistler - Way more technical, but worth a visit just for the experience. River Runs Through It is rideable by anyone, although only experts will clean it. Pretty cool trail.

    North Shore - find a local guide and have at it. Quite technical and difficult, but doable by anyone with a sense of adventure. What easy trails they have are not representative of the area though. If you go, rent a burly bike and some body armour and do it right. It's almost like a different sport, but very much worthwhile.

    Sunshine Coast - short ferry ride from West Vancouver, and highly recommended. An abundance of smoother singletrack with lower grades. Absolutely stunning coastal rainforest riding. A very good choice for a honeymoon, and there's some excellent guides available over there.

    If you're not totally tied to the Vancouver area, then for mellower riders I'd also suggest Vancouver Island (specifically the Comox Valley area), and the Okanagan Valley in the Interior region. Both are in rain shadow areas and have a lot more 'traditional' XC riding. Being in drier climates helps with the erosion effects that make the North Shore and Whistler so gnarly.

    Feel free to PM or email for more opinionated advice.

  13. #13
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    Just got back from a few days in Squamish, we rode everything from mellow, flowing XC to fast, bike-park berms to gnarly, steep and rooty north shore "XC". My first time there and it was awesome, both the riding and the whole community.

    We picked up a trail map at the visitor centre and were able to do pretty well. A lot of the trails are not really marked but you can find your way around. We were riding at night which didn't help. Alice Lake would be a great place to start.

    Howe Sound Brewing Co. was a big highlight of the trip for us. Nice rooms, they let you store your bikes downstairs, and the pub/beer is awesome.

    I would highly recommend that you consider hooking up with Mad March Racing for a guided ride or maybe even some coaching. Shaums and his crew are awesome and I bet they could get your wife riding some intermediate stuff.

    Guys at the bike shops were really friendly as well, especially Armand up at Republic Cycles.

  14. #14
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    After much research and the guidance given here, we just booked a flight and condo for a week plus in Whistler(village area) and hope to spend most of the time there but will probably do a solo day or two(the wife to be is not too hot on riding everyday) in Squamish
    and also we will check out Vancouver
    Thanks for the info guys.
    2011 Canfield ONE 200mm DH 35 pounds
    2010 Specialized Pitch 29 lbs sold
    Wife: 2009 Canfield ONE also 29 lbs

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