Thursday, May 21, 2015

Kids on Wheels - Nipika Mountain Resort

I've written a lot of stories now in my "Kids on Wheels" series and I'm really excited about this new one because Nipika Mountain Resort is one of my favourite places to spend the weekend!  We usually visit in winter for cross country skiing but it was high time we checked the place out with bikes instead.  And wow, are we ever glad we did!

Family Mountain Biking at Nipika Mountain Resort


What and Where is Nipika?

Nipika Mountain Resort is located in the Kootenay Rockies of British Columbia approximately 45 minutes outside the town of Radium Hot Springs.  It's a short drive for a weekend getaway from Calgary and an easy day trip from Invermere or Radium Hot Springs in the Columbia Valley.

Nipika has over 100km of bike trails ranging in difficulty from wide double track ski trails (great for family biking in  summer) to challenging and technical single track trails perfect for the more advanced riders in your group.

Easy riding on "Main Street"
Dad taking a spin on "Cliff Hanger"

Families wanting to visit Nipika can either pop in for the day (donations accepted if you want to use the trails in summer) or stay overnight in one of Nipika's log cabins.  The cabins can accommodate 6-8 people and include a kitchen, bbq, fireplace, and lovely deck to spend your afternoon on.  The largest cabin, the Rocky Mountain Cabin, can accommodate 13 people which is great news for those wanting to travel with friends and family members.

Log cabins at Nipika Mountain Resort
The Rocky Mountain Cabin can sleep 13 people at Nipika

One Weekend at Nipika is = to a Week of Bike Camp for the Kids

At the beginning of our bike weekend, my son was still barely using his gears and needed more practice on bumpy steep terrain.  The other six year old in our group was a bit nervous on steep hills and also needed practice with his gears.  Then there was the four year old in our group who had no gears and limited experience with mountain biking or riding off pavement.

Approaching the Warming Hut on "Main Street"

By the end of our two day weekend at Nipika, both boys were quite proficient at gearing up and down, were flying down hills with no fear (in total control,) and were even rocking some easy single track down by the river.  They biked about 15km over the two days and our youngest rider was there the whole time, following a short ways behind but never giving up.

Easy singletrack riding by the Kootenay River

The kids progressed months in their biking skills in one weekend thanks to the trails at Nipika that serve as an ideal teaching ground for building confidence on a bike.  (Even I improved my skills while biking at Nipika and have been able to ride more difficult terrain since our trip.)

I'm fairly terrified of single track so Nipika was a good push for me!

The Best Family Trails and Loops at Nipika

My biking suggestions here come straight from my newest story for the Bike Pirate website:  Two Wheeled Family Adventure at Nipika.

Experienced riders will definitely want to try the 25 km Kootenay Krusher while at Nipika. The loop is predominantly single track and follows the beautiful Kootenay and Cross Rivers around the resort property.  Families can create their own "Mini Krusher" loop by following my suggested 5km circuit:

The Mini Kruscher

Bike "Main Street" to junction #16 at the first warming hut.  Head west to junction #15 in a big clearing, and look for a sign that says "Out and Back, Kootenay River."  Take this trail to the river and head back south towards the resort on a lovely single track trail alongside the river. The trail ends at the bottom of a steep hill on "Henry’s Loop."  Climb the hill and you will be back at junction #18 on Main Street. From there, it’s a short ride back to the resort.

Riding along the Kootenay River on easy single track
Single track that even a 4-year old can do
The natural beach we found along the river

The Natural Bridge and Canyon Bridge Loop:

The other recommended loop all bikers should try to complete when at Nipika is to the Natural Bridge and back, crossing the bridge and returning via the Canyon Bridge. Pick up a trail map when you get to the resort and you will easily see the bridges marked in blue, with a variety of orange double track ski trails or dotted single track trails to follow.

The Natural Bridge at Nipika Resort
Riding the easy ski trails at Nipika
Waterfall on the Cross River near the Canyon Bridge
Biking near the Cross River with the Canyon Bridge in the background
The Easiest way to cross the Canyon Bridge

Our kids all completed the trip to the Natural Bridge and back in a 10 km loop that took us the better part of a day at a relaxed pace. Fast riders could do it in an hour.

Nipika is full of gorgeous viewpoints like this one down to the river

Mix and Match Riding for a Variety of Abilities:

The brilliant thing about Nipika is that there’s a junction every few kilometres so if you are in a mixed group of novice and experienced riders, you can split up and re-group at the next junction.  My husband would often try out various single track trails we came along and then we'd find him a junction or two down the ski trails.  This worked well and we all got to do riding at our own ability and skill level.

The Kids have lots of opportunities to practice short hills on the single track trails at Nipika
Plenty of opportunities to challenge yourself at Nipika

The other great thing about staying at Nipika is that you can go out for short rides with the kids and then split up into groups for adult rides while the children play in the pond or the meadow.   I thoroughly enjoyed my evening ride with my girlfriend while the kids were getting ready for bed and we sent the guys out for a ride too on their own when we got back.  The days are long right now so you can ride from sun up to sun down trying new trails.

Sunset riding at Nipika Mountain Resort
Staying overnight at Nipika allows for easy "bike out the door" riding

Other Highlights of Staying at Nipika Mountain Resort

The kids loved playing in the pond and were thrilled that everything and everyone was allowed to be "free range" at the resort.  The kids would run around the meadow playing with other children they met while horses grazed nearby and friendly dogs ran amongst them.  Meanwhile, we could sit back on our deck in the sunshine with a cold beer cooking dinner on the bbq while the kids played.

Bring your own horse and Nipika will provide boarding
The meadow outside our cabin was a great natural playground
The kids could have played at and in the pond all day

We also loved the wood fired hot tub that is one of the more unique things about a stay at Nipika.  It was pretty hot when we got in but some cold water from the pond soon fixed that problem!

The wood fired hot tub was a hit with all the families at Nipika (as was swimming in the cold pond)

While we only had two days to spend at the resort, we could have spent an afternoon playing disc golf on the Nipika course, could have taken a hike by the river, or spent a lot more time playing at the beach we found on our bike ride Sunday.

Biking by the river means lots of time to play in the water

Want to Stay at Nipika this Summer?

For more information on booking your own  stay at Nipika, visit the Nipika Mountain Resort website.  A trail map can also be found on the website along with descriptions for each cabin.  As mentioned earlier, boarding for horses can be arranged if you'd prefer to ride the trails on horseback, and dogs are more than welcome at the resort.

Nipika also offers guided paddling and hiking trips in the summer and that information is available on their website under Summer Activities.

The Paradise and Magic that is Nipika
The Cross River Canyon and our home at Nipika

Many Thanks to the Folks at Nipika Mountain Resort for the complementary stay at such an amazing place!  We can't wait to visit again.  As always, all opinions and words are my own.

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