Thursday, May 01, 2014

The Best Family Bike Trails in the Columbia Valley, BC (updated for 2020)

Everybody needs a happy place and for us, it's the Columbia Valley stretching from Radium Hot Springs to Fairmont Hot Springs. From there we head further south to Kimberley, or north to Golden.

Located across the border in British Columbia, the Towns of Radium Hot Springs and Golden are only 3 hours from Calgary by car and very accessible for a weekend getaway.  Add an extra half hour from Radium, and you are at Fairmont Hot Springs. Take it further for a long weekend and you can also reach Kimberley to the south.

Awesome family mountain biking in the Columbia Valley, BC (Deja View Trail)

Editor's note: this story was first started in 2014 but receives annual updates, additions of new trails, and photo upgrades. If you have any questions about the trails please send me a message by email (check my "contact me" page.)


Trails around Radium Hot Springs and Area



The Radium Hot Springs Bike Park and Sinclair Creek Trail


The Radium Pump and Jump is located in Sinclair Creek. You can either just walk/bike down off of Forsters Landing Road or you can drive to the official parking lot and bike along the creek to reach the bike park (and the link above gives directions for both options.)

Playing at the Radium Pump and Jump

We love biking along the Sinclair Creek Trail on our way to/from the bike park. It is a lovely gravel hiking trail, only 1.2 km long (one way,) double track width the whole time, and pretty much flat the entire distance. It's a great trail for novice riders.

Radium Pump and Jump Bike Park

The pump track is a great addition to the town, and combined with a bike ride or hike along Sinclair Creek, makes for a great half day adventure.  (and even adults will have fun playing in the bike park.)


Easy biking along Sinclair Creek, Radium Hot Springs


Family Biking at Nipika Mountain Resort, near Radium Hot Springs


Spend a weekend or a day at Nipika Mountain Resort just outside Radium Hot Springs and you can bike on 100+ km of singletrack and double track bike and ski trails.  We spent a weekend here in May of 2015 and loved it! Our group of kids biked about 15 km over our two days spent here and had a lot of fun exploring the Natural Bridge and the Canyon Bridge.

For more information and a full trip report, please read my story on our experience:  Kids on Wheels - Nipika Mountain Resort.  

Family Riding at Nipika Mountain Resort

Suggested Bike Loops at Nipika Mountain Resort

First, visit the Trail Forks site to see a map of the Nipika bike trails so you can get a general idea of where I'm sending you on the following suggested loops. All loops below follow the north trails.

Double track easy loop: Starting from the day lodge, follow "Main Street" to the  meadow where you'll find a warming hut and outhouse bathroom. Follow the cross country ski trails from here to the Natural Bridge (there are maps at the day lodge if you want to take one with you, and you'll find a map at every trail intersection as well.)

Cross the natural bridge and continue following the cross country ski trails around until you come to the Canyon Bridge. Cross, and make your way back to the day lodge for a loop that's approximately 10 km in length. Read the full trip report for this loop here: Kids on Wheels - Nipika Mountain Resort

And if you read the story above, I've offered suggestions on how to add some easy singletrack biking to the loop.

Crossing the Natural Bridge on the cross country ski trails

Singletrack easy/intermediate loop: Follow "Main Street" from the day lodge to the first meadow with the warming hut. From Main Street, you can do an optional short out and back ride on "Teen Spirit" to get an idea of what Nipika singletrack looks like. It's only 600 metres long one way and is a fun flowy trail (especially coming back down towards the meadow)

Back at the meadow, follow Dunbar's Trail (easy, flowy, and fun) to the intersection with Cliff Hanger. You'll follow CH for a short distance until you get on the Kootenay River Trail. The river trail is 1.8 km long and relatively flat. It is quite rooty in spots, but it's nothing that a 20" bike can't handle. There's one challenging hill you'll have to push your bikes up, but other than that, it's easy riding and it connects several small beach areas to stop and play at.

Beach area along the Kootenay River Trail

Once you reach the last beach area on the Kootenay River Trail, you'll have to push your bikes up a steep hill (a double track ski trail) to get back towards Main Street. From here you can either follow ski trails back to the day lodge (or be adventurous like us and attempt to bike Chamois Whammy.) Note that Chamois Whammy is very exposed in spots and that a fall could end in the river far below you. My son wasn't scared at all when we just did this in 2017 (age 8) but I walked a lot of it.

This loop is no more than 7 to 8 km in total distance.
Recommended for competent riders with previous mountain biking experience on bikes with at least 20" tires, hand brakes, and gears.

A look at some of the narrow riding along Chamois Whammy at Nipika Mountain Resort

Biking the Old Coach Trail from Dry Gulch to Radium Hot Springs


The Old Coach Trail, an old historic road is one of the nicest family-friendly mountain bike rides in the valley and isn't too long if you set up a vehicle shuttle or send an adult back for the car. The Old Coach Trail is double track the entire time and is 9 km one way.

There's a lovely coffee shop on main street as well near the end of the trail in Radium Hot Springs if you should find yourself waiting around with the kids while another adult is riding back to the trailhead for the vehicle. There's also an ice-cream shop on main street on the other side of the highway.

Biking the Old Coach Trail from Dry Gulch to Radium Hot Springs

We first biked the trail with our son at age 4 and while challenging at that age, he did awesome.  My husband ran along beside him to offer a bit of assistance on the occasional steep hill or loose gravel patch but by age 5 he was doing fine  - and just walked the big hills (of which there are a few.)

Route Directions: 

We prefer to start at Dry Gulch, biking into Radium Hot Springs. This way, most of the ride is gradual downhill until the final climb back up to town at the end. Note that the final hill is over 2 kilometres long in distance (and quite steep) so bring lots of candy for the end.

Climbing up the final section of the Old Coach Trail to Radium Hot Springs

Deja View (Singletrack Extension to the Old Coach Trail) 


This is one of our favourite mountain bike trails in all of the Columbia Valley. It's smooth, flowy, technically easy, and there are no roots or rocks. It's paradise!

From the Old Coach Trail, there are fun singletrack trails off the river side of the gravel road. 

The singletrack trails on the river side of the Old Coach Trail are collectively referred to as the Deja View Trail and we've ridden all 5 of the loops on the river side. The first and second loops closest to Dry Gulch are especially good for novice mountain bikers, and then each loop gets progressively harder. 

Easy singletrack riding on Deja View off the Old Coach Trail

This trail was recently removed from Trail Forks because it is not a sanctioned trail. You can still ride it, but unfortunately I can't give you a nice link for more information.

Below are my best directions for finding the trail: 

First, go through the gate at the far left side of the parking lot. Follow the gravel road (the Old Coach Trail) until you come to a singletrack trail to your left (on the river side of you.)

This is the beginning of the first loop on Deja View. Ride this loop clockwise for best flow. When you get to the end, either return to the parking lot on the Old Coach Trail or keep going along gravel road until you come to the second loop. There are 5 in total. 

Ride as many as you want and then either return to the parking lot on the Old Coach Trail, or finish your ride on the OCT, ending in Radium. 

Amazing views on the Deja View Trail 

The beauty of the mountain bike loops along Deja View is that you can ride as many as you want for a short out and back ride. Start at Dry Gulch, ride a few loops, and come back on the old road. (It will be uphill the whole way back on the Old Coach Trail so save energy for the return ride!!)

Alternately, ride some of the loops and then continue on the Old Coach Trail to the far trailhead in Radium Hot Springs so that you don't have to backtrack at all. This is what we usually do. (And my husband always rides back for the truck.)

Flowy easy riding on Deja View

And my best suggestion for "what age do you recommend this trail for?" - Try the first loop. If it's way too hard, stick to the Old Coach Trail. If it goes well, try the second loop. Walk any hills that scare the kids and push your bike up any hills that are too steep. The beauty of this trail  is that the hills are never that long and it's a very cruisy, flowy, cross country ride.

Our favourite bike trail in the Columbia Valley


Trails around Invermere and Area 


Lillian Lake Trails, near Invermere


5 year old approved!
If you go to the Trail Forks website you'll find a map showing the amazing bike trails at Lillian Lake near Invermere.  The "Junior Johnson" is a double track trail, great for families and beginner riders. It has a couple of steep hills but there are mild elevation changes along most of the trail. And it's very short (a 3 km loop) so you'll only be riding it for an hour or two at most!

Our 5 year old still found the trail to be a challenge when we first rode it but it's one of the easiest trails in the area by far!

The Junior Johnson: Balance bike friendly
The trail would be chariot-friendly too. Just don't take babies that you don't want to be jostled around a bit because it is bumpy in spots.

Once you've mastered the Junior Johnston, the next trails to try are "Let it Flow" and "Filler up." They are rated "green" but are singletrack and quite a bit more difficult than the Junior Johnson.  There are quite a few hills as well and you definitely need gears on the kids' bikes.

Note if you're going to ride "Let it Flow" and "Filler up," check Trail Forks to ensure you're going the right direction. "Filler up" is the climbing trail and "Let it Flow" is the descent trail for the loop. Depending on where you join up with this loop you'll either climb first or descend first.

Once you've mastered all of these trails, you can try sections of "the Johnson" or the "Kloosifier." My husband and son also really love the "Arch Potential Trail," which has a crazy snake-like section in the middle where you wind up and down a gully. (note it is a downhill trail and you need to start from the Johnson parking lot in order to get the best flow on the snake part.)


The Junior Johnson double track trail


Arch Potential - Johnson Intermediate Loop (Lillian Lake)

A great intermediate loop can be made of approximately 8 km, allowing families to try a bunch of trails in the Johnson area without committing to any of the longer ones. This is also a great way of testing to see if the kids are ready for either the Johnson or the Kloosifier Trails.

From the Johnson Parking lot follow the Arch Potential Trail up and down to a junction with the Johnson Trail. Arch Potential has a lot of climbing along with some steep descents. There's also a snake section in the middle where you wind up and down two sides of a gully (which my boys loved!!)

From the end of Arch Potential, turn left onto the Johnson Trail (east along the river bank) heading for the junction with Let it Flow (a green single track trail.) You'll only be on this trail for a short distance until you come to a connector trail leading to the junction with Filler Up

Arch Potential Trail near the junction with the Johnson 

Climb "Filler Up" and then descent on "Let it Flow." (It's a loop, but you have to ride it the correct direction.) At the bottom of "Let it Flow," hop on the short connector again until you return to your previous junction with "Filler Up." This time, take the Johnson Trail back to the parking lot.

Note, most people ride this section of the Johnson Trail in the opposite direction when doing the full loop so pay attention to bikers coming towards you and perhaps hop off the trail since you're going against the flow. It's the only way to get back to the parking lot though.

And in case you're wondering what this loop would be like in reverse, Arch Potential is a downhill specific trail and the snake section does not work in the opposite direction. You need to start on Arch Potential from the Johnson parking lot.

In case I totally lost you, refer to the Trail Forks website or app (I highly recommend putting the app on your phone because it's easier to see where the high and low points are for choosing which direction to ride a trail.)

Easy flowy section on "Let it Flow"

The Kloosifier Trail (Lillian Lake)


The Kloosifier Trail is one of our new fav. trails in the Columbia Valley, but my son didn't graduate to this trail until he'd ridden all of the other cross-country trails in this guide! He finally rode this loop at age 10 (and we still walked a lot of hills, both my son and I.)

The full loop is 8.2 km and the trail is amazingly flowy, smooth, and fun. Expect very few roots or rocks, but a few sandy sections if it hasn't rained recently. The trail is much more technical than others like Deja View outside Radium Hot Springs or Teen Spirit in the Fairmont area - both which you should ride FIRST.

Scenic riding on the Kloosifier Trail, Lillian Lake, Invermere

My suggestion is to start with other trails in the valley and work your way up to this one with the kids. It's also not a bad idea to solo ride it first as an adult. I'm not ashamed to admit that I had to walk some sections because a few of the hills scared me.

This trail is very beautiful though and I highly recommend it for the views alone.

Flowy fun riding on the Kloosifier Trail, Lillian Lake 

Panorama Mountain Resort Trails, near Invermere


We finally visited Panorama with our bikes and rode two different trails.

Option One: The Paved Valley Trail Loop


The first option here is the Valley Trail, a paved 3.9 km loop. And while it is paved, know that there is some steep climbing from the upper village to the Grey Wolf golf course. Once you leave the golf course, you'll be riding down to the lower village (where you'll have one section of very steep switchbacks.)

The best direction to do this loop is from the Upper Village up to the golf course and then down to the Lower Village. You'll end up at the gondola (which you can ride for free with your bikes back up to the Upper Village.)

I do not recommend riding uphill from the Lower Village to reach the golf course. This would involve biking up the steep switchbacks.

Riding the paved Valley Trail at Panorama Mountain Resort 

The first cabin on the Pacer Trail

Option Two: Hale Hut Ride


For a second option that is more of an easy mountain bike ride (and not paved) you can bike from the Grey Wolf golf course up to the Hale Hut in roughly a 5 km return ride. You'll be riding on winter ski trails.

You'll start on the Pacer Trail, a double track gravel trail, and you'll pass by a small cabin before reaching the junction with the Hale Trail.

The Pacer Trail gains about 100 metres but it is never overly steep. You can always push your bike up any hill that proves to be too difficult. From the junction with the Hale Trail you'll gain another 60 metres or so (in a very short distance.) We pushed our bikes up most of this section (which thank goodness only took about 10 minutes at the most.)

The ride out from the Hale Hut is very fast and you'll be at the final climb back up to the golf course in no time!

Hale Hut (which is open for warming up in on cool days)

Option Three: Combine the Valley Trail and the Hale Hut Trip 


Starting at the Upper Village, bike the Valley Trail until you reach the golf course. Hop onto the Pacer Trail and ride out to the Hale Hut. Return and then finish your ride on the Valley Trail, heading down to the Lower Village. Ride the gondola back up to return to your starting point at the Upper Village.

Total distance here would be roughly 9 km. It is a half day outing and fun for families staying in one of the condos at the resort.

Riding along the Pacer Trail en route to the Hale Hut

During the summer season there is also lift accessed mountain biking at the resort, but the chairlifts weren't running for biking when we were there.

You can see all of the trails at Panorama Mountain Resort on the Trail Forks website.

Biking down from the Hale Hut


The Markin-MacPhail Westside Legacy Trail, near Invermere


This is a paved trail in the valley (one of the few) but don't count on a cute little family bike trail. This trail has more steep ups and downs than any other paved trail I've ridden, and you'll get quite the workout!

Paved biking on the Westside Legacy Trail 

The Westside Legacy Trail, or the Markin-MacPhail Trail as it's been recently renamed, will be 25 km in length, once fully completed, and will join the communities of Invermere and Fairmont.

The trail parallels beside and often above The Westside Road that connects Invermere and Fairmont. Westside Road is on the far side of Lake Windermere and you'll have no problems finding the paved bike trail if you start from the Invermere side and just drive until you see the first trailhead. At this point, the trail is right beside the road and easy to spot.

Climbing switchbacks on the Legacy Trail

So far there is over 15 km of paved trail completed so you can complete a decent out and back ride. Once the trail is complete, I'd recommend setting up a shuttle and riding one direction with the kids. (and there are big hills in both directions so I'm not sure either direction is easier.)

Follow the progress of this trail on the Legacy Trail website

Lots of climbing on this trail!


The SRL Lakeside Trail, near Invermere


If you're already ridden Deja View and the Spirit Trail (below under Fairmont,) this should be the next trail you seek out. Together, these are our top three favourite trails in the valley for flowy, easy, smooth, non technical riding.

This one will require a bit of route finding to locate the trailhead as it is not on Trail Forks. You'll also be riding on private land (that is open to biking and hiking) so please be respectful, pack out all garbage, and treat the trails with care.

Gorgeous views of Lake Windermere from the SRL Lakeside Trail 


The easiest way I can guide you here is through this link on Strava. If you are not on Strava, follow the directions below:

  1. From Invermere, get on to Westside Road on the far side of Lake Windermere. This road goes all the way towards Fairmont. Follow the road until you see the paved Legacy Trail beside you on your right. Keep driving until you arrive at a big parking lot with a sign that says SRL Property on your right hand side. The parking lot is number one on this map for the Legacy Trail.


  2. You can hop on the Legacy Trail from the parking lot but you want to cross Westside Road to start biking on the far side of the road for the SRL trail. You'll see a singletrack trail heading up into the forest on the opposite side of the road. This is your trail. It is unmarked other than signs saying you are on SRL property. (But it's ok because you are allowed to bike and hike here.)

Once you've found the trail, enjoy a nice smooth flowy 6 km loop that will take you further down Westside Road. From here you have a few choices.

Optional ending 1. Leave the kids and an adult at the end and send a second adult back for the vehicle. It's a short ride back if you take the road but it's uphill most of the way.

Optional ending 2. Cross the road and head further up the road a short distance where you'll see a gate and a single track trail leading off from it. This is the SRL Mountainside Trail. It returns through the forest to the parking lot you started from.

All together with the SRL Lakeside Loop and the Mountainside Trail return, you'll be riding approximately 8 km. You can also hop off the Mountainside Trail onto the paved Legacy Trail for the return ride. 

Trails do not get more beautiful than this! 

Mount Swansea South Park Trail via the South Ridge, near Invermere 


The South Park trail is the only true downhill trail you'll see in this guide (so far.) It's meant to be ridden with a shuttle one-way and while it's rated as an intermediate trail, that is a "Mount Swansea rating" which would place it as an advanced trail anywhere else (especially for families.)

If you have youth who have taken downhill biking lessons or have spent time riding at their local ski resort on lift-accessed terrain, they'll love the South Park trail. By downhill standards it probably is an intermediate trail, and everything can be rolled. There are options for jumps, but you don't have to take them. 

The appeal of the South Park trail is that it is a very flowy machine built trail. It is fast and smooth with many bermed corners. 

Smooth downhill riding on South Park off Mount Swansea 


To access the South Park trail, you first have to drive up the Mount Swansea road to the trailhead for the South Ridge. This is both the first and the second crux. After driving the Swansea road and climbing up the South Ridge Trail, South Park itself will probably feel easy by comparison.

First, the road - to reach the start of the South Ridge Trail I highly recommend a high clearance vehicle. I do see people on this road in AWD cars, but you'll want to be a very skilled driver on badly rutted steep mountain roads. This road terrifies me and I crawl down it every time I have to do a shuttle run.

Second, the climb up the South Ridge - You'll have to climb 118 meters (height) over 903 meters (distance.) My son is a strong rider and he had to push his bike most of the way. If you're the shuttle driver, you might have to hike up to the top of the ridge to help your child/children with their bike(s.) This is what I did. Then I ran back down and drove the truck down to the bottom.

Note: Kids should be wearing full face helmets and protective padding for this ride. 

At the end of the South Park Trail, riders can connect to Hula Girl, on to Beyond Beef, (brand new for 2020,) and on to Chic-n-Chuck (also new for 2020) for a complete top to bottom intermediate flow ride. 

NOTE FOR 2020: As of the time of updating this, July 2nd, the shuttle road is closed due to Covid-19. It is possible to use the Mount Swansea climbing trail to reach the lower trails but it would be a very long climb to reach the South Ridge.

Check Trail Forks for updates on the road before you head out. 

The biking trail goes left, the hiking trail goes right from the top of the South Ridge

Trails around Fairmont Hot Springs 


The Spirit Trail, Fairmont Hot Springs


The entire area around Columbia Lake has been removed from Trail forks so I recommend using Strava to find the trails I'm going to talk about below. Here is the link to the Spirit Trail on Strava. 


Fairmont Trailhead:

Continue past the big sign for the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort on the highway (coming from Invermere.) Turn left onto Fairmont Creek Road (same side of the road as the resort.)  Take your first right off this road onto Columbia River Road.

Follow Columbia River Road until it turns to gravel and keep going as you follow the river and some cliffs on your left hand side. Drive until you reach the gate for the Nature Conservancy's protected area. There is an official parking lot with bathrooms here.

From here, there are many options for rides depending on your family's abilities. 

Easy riding on the double track section of the Spirit Trail, Fairmont Hot Springs


Option One : The Double Track Spirit Trail 

The riding starts on an old road and then turns into easy family-friendly singletrack through the trees.

Half a kilometre in to the singletrack bit of trail, you'll reach a section of exposed trail hugging cliffs to your left.  This is where you'll either turn around or you can walk the narrowest parts until the trail opens up again. It's only a kilometre through this section at most until the trail becomes the wide open road again.

Even if you just make it to the canyon and back, you'll still get a nice ride in that's at least 8 km round trip.

Easy double track riding on the Spirit Trail in Fairmont

Option Two: Teen Spirit (Singletrack Extension to the Spirit Trail)

  
Teen Spirit is one of our favourite trails in the Columbia Valley. Prerequisite experience for this trail should be riding "Deja View" (mentioned earlier) or other intermediate singletrack trails in the area. Kids will need a 20" bike (or larger) with hand brakes and gears.

We love this trail because it is very similar to our beloved flowy, cruisy, "Deja View" Trail near Invermere. The hills are never very long or sustained, there are no big climbs, and the trail is gloriously smooth. (no roots or rocks.)

The trail is 6.1 km long and you can make a loop with the Spirit Trail for a total distance of 12 km.

From Fairmont, ride the double track Spirit Trail on the way out and return on the single track Teen Spirit for best flow.

Biking along Teen Spirit above Columbia Lake, Fairmont Hot Springs


The Strava link above shows this loop as part of the Spirit Trail. With the trail being removed from Trail Forks it's difficult to explain where to exit the double track trail for the Spirit Trail.

In a nutshell though, ride the double track "Spirit Trail" until you come to a three way junction.

To your left (uphill) is a more advanced singletrack trail that parallels the Spirit Trail above. 

Straight ahead is the continuation of the Spirit Trail where it enters the canyon.

To your right (downhill) is the singletrack trail that has become known as "Teen Spirit." Follow this trail as it makes a loop, heading back to the parking lot. You'll exit the loop with just a short bit of the Spirit Trail left to ride at the end.

Biking above Columbia Lake on Teen Spirit



Trails around the Town of Golden to the North 



We've only just scratched the surface for what you can ride around the Town of Golden. We spent a weekend in Golden and tried to ride as much as we could, but rain prevented us from exploring more than a couple of good trails.

Below are some of the options that you may want to check out if you're in Golden.

Easy double track riding - Check out the Town Rotary Loop. This 7 km loop is a nice wide gravel trail and it takes you by the Municipal Campground, the outdoor pool, the town pump track and skills park, and the skate park.

Playing on the town pump track located off the Rotary Loop behind the Mount 7 Rec Plex


Easy singletrack riding - Try "Bush Party" in the Mountain Shadows section of trails. It's basically a 2 km long pump track. Expect easy singletrack riding in a figure eight loop, and a great agility course to work on small bumps and roots along with manoeuvering around trees and rocks.

The trail is relatively flat with a few short hills. Awesome for families and definitely balance bike friendly. (full face helmet definitely not needed!)

Easy flat terrain on Bush Party 

Intermediate singletrack riding - We headed to the CBT Trails at a recommendation from Tourism Golden. I drove my husband and son to the top of "The Mighty Quinn" where they then connected to the bottom part of Gold Rush. Then I drove to the bottom and picked them up on Elk Road.

Both trails are downhill only and feature fun flowy berms, jumps, and steep descents. My son LOVED this ride and I would recommend full face helmets for the kids on this one.

It was a very short shuttle and the ride was less than 2 km long. Note with the trailhead for starting the Mighty Quinn, you can drive all the way right up to the starting point off the CBT Mainline Trail. Just go to the Trail Forks map and look for the unnamed road leading in off the Kicking Horse Trail (the road leading up to the ski resort.) 

There is a road that leaves the Kicking Horse Trail (with a gate across it) - and most of the time the gate is open. Proceed past the gate and make your way to the junction with the CBT Mainline Trail and the Mighty Quinn. We drove right up to this junction and were able to start our ride right from the top of the Mighty Quinn.

Descending the Mighty Quinn 

For more trails in the Golden area, please visit the Trail Forks website where you'll find no shortage of trails to try out. I have the Trail Forks app on my phone so we can find trailheads when out traveling (and to make sure we never get lost.)

Reminder to carry bear spray when riding and to make lots of noise!

Trails around Kimberley to the South 



Biking The North Star Rails 2 Trails from Kimberley to Cranbrook



The North Star Rails to Trails path is a converted railway trail,  25 km in length, and completely paved.  Start in Kimberley and it is all downhill to Marysville.  From here there is a wee bit of uphill but it is mostly flat to Wycliffe.  From Wycliffe, you will descend and then climb back up from the St. Mary's River Bridge.  Once you finish the climb back up, it is relatively flat again until you reach Cranbrook.

We did this ride on a 30+ degree day in July 2015, and it was hot!  There is very little shade on this trail so bring lots of water or else bike it on a cooler day.  Starting early is also a good idea before it gets too hot.

Biking on the North Star Rails to Trails Path

While it is possible to get a bus ride to Cranbrook to start the ride, you would then have to bike mostly uphill all the way back to Kimberley (less than ideal with kids.)  Easier is to do your own shuttle with friends (stashing a second vehicle in Cranbrook) or else have an adult bike back for the vehicle.

If an adult is biking back, consider parking somewhere around the halfway mark (maybe in Wycliffe) so that you don't have to bike back so far at the end.  My husband parked in Cranbrook and then biked back up the trail to meet us.  This meant that he didn't get to ride the whole trail with us but at least we had our truck at the end.

All trail info. can be found on the North Star Rails to Trails website


North Star Rails To Trails

Mountain Biking at the Kimberley Nordic Centre


Drive up past the ski hill to the Nordic Centre and you'll find a gigantic network of trails that connect to the Nature Park.

We rode (and can recommend) the following trails:

Happy Hans Loop - Beginner friendly and perfect for novice mountain bikers wanting a gentle intro to the trails around Kimberley. The loop is 1.9 km and gains/loses roughly 85 metres of height.

There were a couple of hills that felt steep for climbing (but could be walked by young children or beginner riders.) I loved the flowy ending to the ride as you descend back down to the trailhead (clockwise direction.)

This is one of the smoother trails you'll find at the Nordic Centre or in the Nature Park so I highly recommend testing the kids out here before progressing to harder trails.

Mountain biking at the Kimberley Nordic Centre


Magic Line - An intermediate loop, 6.6 km in distance, with 376 metres of climbing. It is ridden clockwise and you'll climb to three viewpoints along the ride (each one bigger than the one before.) 

I started out on this one but personally found it to be way too rocky and rough. I escaped on ski trails while my boys finished it. They completed the loop but they also found it to be unpleasantly rocky on all of the climbs. They said the first two descents were "unremarkable" but the third one was a lot of fun with flowy berms, jumps, and rollers. (So there is a reward if you manage to complete the loop.)

Enjoying one of the viewpoints at the Kimberley Nordic Centre on "Magic Line"


Mountain Biking in the Kimberley Nature Park


We found the trails in the Nature Park to be quite rocky and challenging, but families will enjoy the two traverses that we completed:

SW Passage Traverse from the Nordic Centre

We started from the Nordic Centre on the Spruce Trail, a multi-use double track trail that's part of the lit loop for cross-country skiing in winter. (Starting at the Nordic Centre allows you to start high for less height gain when traversing into the Nature Park.

From Spruce, we followed a few singletrack cross-country ski trails, open to multi-use traffic in summer. We followed the Horse Trail, Roy's Cut  and Mussers. These trails took us to the boundary with the Nature Park.

Once officially in the Nature Park, we took Higgins Hill, a short connector trail that I walked much of due to the rocky descent. And all this, to finally reach the Army Road, part of the TransCanada Trail (or the Great Trail as it's now called.) 

Easy scenic riding on the Army Road in the Nature Park


The Army Road is a beautiful double track trail that traverses through the entire Nature Park. It is great for families or beginner mountain bikers. The section we rode took us through a beautiful lush forest and we felt miles from civilization. You can also get on the Army Road lower down in the City of Kimberley at the Swan Street Trailhead where you start on the Lower Army Road. We just wanted to start higher up to avoid extra climbing.

We took the Army Road to Jimmy Russell, another section of the Great Trail, and also a wide double track trail that's great for novice riders. From here we were able to hop on the SW Passage Trail, our objective for the ride.

Our objective for the ride: The SW Passage Viewpoint


The SW Passage Trail only climbs 45 metres but I found it too steep to ride. After this, we took the short SW Passage Viewpoint Trail to reach a fabulous lookout that I encourage all families to either hike or bike to. Apparently this trail only climbs another 13 metres, but again, it is straight up, and there's no way any of us could ride it. (Though my boys did ride down.)

My recommendation is to bring a bike lock and to leave the bikes at the junction of Jimmy Russell and the SW Passage Trail. Continue on foot for the final 500 metres of distance. (It was a long ways to push one's bike!)

From the top of the viewpoint we walked/rode back down to Jimmy Russell and continued all the way down to the bottom, ending across the road from the Kimberley Riverside Campground where we were staying. My husband rode back across the park for the truck.

Riding down the SW Passage Viewpoint Trail


Sunflower Hill Traverse from the Swan Street Trailhead Entrance

Most people just climb up to Sunflower Hill from the Kimberley Riverside Campground and return the same way. All I can say for our excuse is that we don't like climbing if there's a way to avoid it. And we wanted to see more of the Nature Park in another big traverse.

We followed the Lower Army Road, a double track section of the Great Trail, from Swan Street until we reached the Ponderosa Trail, another double track trail but with steeper climbing. We got back on the Lower Army Road and connected on to Eimer's Road so that we could check out Eimer's Lake (not much to see in reality.) 

Our goal from there was to reach Elbow, and eventually the Forest Crowne Through Road. Everything we rode was double track easy riding and we were able to traverse much of the nature park without any technical riding.

Easy riding on the Forest Crowne Through Road en route to Sunflower Hill


Sunflower Hill
was the objective for the ride and it was a beautiful ridge which we loved riding across. Then the ride down to the campground was a lot of fun as well. 

Scenic riding along the ridge on Sunflower Hill


However you reach Sunflower Hill, it is a viewpoint I highly recommend hiking or biking to, and you'll only gain 126 metres if you decide to ride up from the campground. The grade is pretty gentle too.

Riding down the Sunflower Hill Trail in the Nature Park


The Kimberley Bike Park and the Mark Creek Trail


We didn't do any trail riding here, but my son loved the Kimberley bike park with all its progressive jump lines. There was also a small pump track at the back for beginners.

If you want to go for a trail ride after playing at the bike park, you can try the Mark Creek Trail (also known as the Lion's Way.) This is a beginner-friendly single track trail great for a short family ride. It is 3.7 km one way or you can ride it one way to Marysville and send an adult back for the vehicle. 

If you decide to ride the Mark Creek Trail both ways, know that it's downhill all the way to Marysville (so you'll be climbing on your way back.) I'd suggest starting in Marysville so that you climb first, spend some time at the bike park as a reward, and then coast all the way back down at the end.

The Bike Park is a lot of fun for kids who love jumps!


Downhill Mountain Biking at Bootleg Mountain 


This was my son's favourite place to bike on our recent trip to Kimberley and both my husband/son loved the intermediate downhill trails on Bootleg.

You'll want to take turns riding as adults so that you can do truck drops (driving up to the top, letting out the riders, and then driving down to the bottom to pick them up.) 

Starting off on NIMBY: NIMBY is the easiest trail here and you'll want to start on this one before you progress to anything harder. NIMBY loses 119 metres of height and is an amazing downhill flow trail.

"Kimberley's newest machine built trail is a 1.5km downhill/ flow/ jump trail. This trail can be ridden by all riders and has nice smooth dirt with very few rocks. The 44 features include tons of table tops and a gap jump over a big fallen tree, as well as one over a rock garden. Every big feature has an easier alternate line. This trail has 40 berms from top to bottom with the biggest ones being 6+ ft high." - Trail Forks

Kimberley's premier downhill trails at Bootleg Mountain


Progressing to Purple People Pleaser: PPP is the next trail you'll want to try as long as you have somebody willing to drive further up the mountain. Personally I've seen worse shuttle roads and didn't find this one too bad. I was very happy though that I was driving a truck with high clearance. 

PPP descends 225 metres of distance over 1.7 km.
"Built as an option for riders who want to progress a bit higher and more advanced than Nimby (Miss Demeanour). This new trail is fast and fluid with giant berms and terrific tabletops for intermediate riders." - Trail Forks

Safe to say, if you don't like berms or tabletops, you'll want to give Bootleg a pass. (I was content to be the shuttle driver for these rides.)
 
You'll want full face helmets and padding for the kids if you send them down PPP
You'll drive high up Bootleg Mountain for Purple People Pleaser 


More Biking in the Columbia Valley


For more information on biking in the Columbia Valley, visit Trail Forks for the Columbia Valley and search the various areas to see what trails might be suitable for your family.


Nipika Mountain Resort


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