Canada’s mountain biking never ceases to amaze me. From World Class bike parks to far-reaching adventure trails, they seem to have some of it all. I’ve had the opportunity to ride my bike in Canada for the World Cup in Mont St. Anne and for the 7-day BC Bike Race stage race. To this day it’s some of the most remarkable mountain biking I’ve ever done. The trails just kept coming and surprises awaited around every corner.
Considering how densely packed Canada is with tremendous mountain bike trail systems, it seems almost impossible to just pick 12. With Canada’s trails ranking amongst some of the best in the World, keep in mind that these 12 trail systems are truly the cream of the crop.
1. Diamond Head- Over 92 Trails!
The Diamond Head trail system consists of over 30 miles and over 92 trails to choose from. The trails range from green to double black diamond and a rider of any skill level could experience a great day on the bike here. While beginners have plenty of ground to practice on, an expert won’t become bored easily with 25 black diamond trails and 10 double black diamond trails.
The Diamond Head trail system has a few sustained climbs that will lead you to descents with varying degrees of difficulty from World famous flow trails to rocky, rooty technical features. Here are a few examples of the trails you can find at the Diamond Head Trail System.
Half Nelson: Half Nelson is one of the most famous flow trails in the World. It has been frequently described as a downhill pump track. It is rated as a blue trail and would be suitable for most ability levels. A beginner or intermediate rider would find fun and challenge with the speed and berms, while advanced riders could clock fast times and send tabletops.
19th Hole: This is an expert only trail option. This is about as technical as it gets, with aggressive rocks and roots situated amongst the loam and forested trails. There are mandatory gap jumps on this trail.
Pro Tip: When the trail gets especially gnarly with large roots and awkward obstacles, focus on pushing your heels down to ground yourself more on the trail.
Your Mom: This is a short trail that has a good variety and could appeal to most skill levels. It’s primarily downhill with a few uphill pedaling sections. It gets a little more technical at the bottom so hopefully you warm up as you go.
Where is Diamond Head Trail System?
Diamond Head Trail System is one of the most popular trails in Squamish, British Columbia. It’s located by Quest University. There are parking areas located throughout the trail system which makes it easy to shuttle these trails if you have a friend and more than one vehicle. There is an outhouse available at the Climbing Trail Parking area off of Mamquam Road.
Bike Shops Supporting Diamond Head Trail System
Just back in town there are two bike shops within 10 miles of the trailhead.
Spoke Haven Bike Shop: Spoke Haven is located 9 miles from the trailhead and is open Monday through Friday from 10 am to 6:30 pm. They are open Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm and closed Sundays. You can book an appointment on their website: spokehave.ca.
Tantalus Bike Shop: This shop is located about 9 miles from the trailhead. They are open 7 days a week from 10-6:30 pm. Sunday they are open from 10 am- 6 pm. You can find them on Facebook or call (604) 898-2588.
2. Whistler Mountain Bike Park- Lift Served Trails!
The Whistler Mountain Bike Park may be one of the most famous lift-serviced mountain bike parks in the World. This bike park features 120 trails and almost 5,000 feet of vertical. Featuring all types of trails from natural rocky, rooty, or loose technical features to man-made jumps, drops, and bridges there is something for every type of rider. Here are a few examples of some of the trails at the park, but with 120 trails, you’ll have to visit to really see everything the park has to offer.
Crank It Up- Lower: This is a machine groomed freeride trail with big smooth berms and rollers. Beginners can easily roll the trails, but more advanced rides will enjoy using their speed and skills to get air.
Pro Tip: If it’s your first time on the trail, just plan to roll everything. Since the park is lift accessed it’s easy to go back up and ride it again. Accidents often happen on the first lap.
A-Line: If you’re an advanced rider at Whistler Bike Park then you must hit A-Line. It’s considered ‘THE jump trail’ in the bike park. It has large berms, tabletops, and a drop.
Angry Pirate: This is a black diamond trail that is centered around steep terrain and rocky features.
Where is the Whistler Mountain Bike Park?
Whistler Bike Mountain Bike Park is located in Whistler, British Columbia. An unlimited pass for Fall Riding will run $365 CAD. The park is open June 29th to October 12th from 10 am to 5 pm. Parking will cost either $5 or $10 per day depending on what parking lot you choose. There are also a wide variety of other activities to participate in at the Whistler Resort with everything from art galleries to river rafting.
Bike Shops Supporting Whistler Mountain Bike Park
Since Whistler Mountain Bike Park is such a huge bike hub it only makes sense that there is a bike shop right at the base of the mountain. There are also a variety of other bike shops nearby.
Garbanzo Bike and Bike: Located right at the base of the mountain, this bike shop is open 7 days a week from 10 am to 6 pm. They offer rentals, repair, equipment and even some snack options for on-the-go.
Whistler Bike Co: This shop is less than a mile from the base of the mountain. They are also open 7 days a week from 10 am to 6 pm.
3. Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park encompasses a few trail systems in and surrounding this National Park. There are 101 trails in this region, ranging from beginner to expert, with all of the systems intermingling making big routes and long days popular in this area. Many of the rides are perfectly suited for bike packing adventures. The trail systems Pyramid Bench, Maligne Canyon, Whistlers Bench, and Old Fort Point/Valley of the Five Lakes make up this magnificent riding location. Here’s a little snippet from each of these sections:
Pyramid Bench: The trails in Pyramid Bench will give you some challenging climbing, and some remarkable views. If you are up for the challenge you can ride ‘Trail 8,’ a black diamond technical ,rocky, and rooty trail back down or you can opt for a mellower option such as taking the switchbacks on Trail 3. These trails are marked well and you should have no problem navigating once you’re there.
Maligne Canyon: This portion of the system primarily offers a long and steady Fire Road called Signal Mountain Fire Road. You can climb over 2,700 feet in just over 5 miles. You’ll be rewarded with some very steep black diamond descents.
Pro Tip: You might want a very easy gear for this trail. Consider a 34 tooth chainring in the front with an 11-50 cassette in the rear.
Whistler Bench: Whistlers Bench features 22 trails for a variety of skill levels. You can ride Swamp Rider and test your skills while hoping logs and navigating roots, or you can keep it easier on Fast Tracks (Lower) with some sustained climbs and descents.
Old Fort Point/Valley of the Five Lakes: This final portion is primarily for advanced riders with most of the trails being black diamond. You can connect almost 10 miles of purely bike diamond trails with technical climbs, rock gardens, and beautiful views if you dare to take your eyes off of the trails.
Where is Jasper National Park?
Jasper National Park is located in Jasper, Alberta, Canada which is almost 200 miles Northwest of Calgary. There are more than a dozen different parking areas throughout this maze of trails. The TrailForks App denotes all of the parking areas. Additionally, there are several restrooms and there are even showers and a camping area called Whistlers Campground. These trail systems seemingly form the borders around the town of Jasper so dropping into town for supplies shouldn’t be a problem.
Bike Shops Supporting Jasper National Park
The Bench Bike Shop: This shop is located right in the middle of town close to the trails. They are open 7 days a week from 10 am to 6 pm. www.thebenchbikeshop.com
Vicious Cycle: Vicious Cycle is located in the middle of town just like The Bench Bike Shop. They are open Sunday through Thursday 9 am – 6pm and Friday-Saturday from 9 am to 7 pm. Viciouscanada.com
Public Bike Repair Stand: This is a public repair stand with tools and a pump if you just need to quickly tighten down a bolt or two. It is located off of Connaught Dr across the stress from the Shell gas station.
4. Cumberland Community Forest
I had the pleasure of riding in Cumberland during one of the stages of BC Bike Race. It was a blast to fly throughout the roots and through the thick forests. Cumberland Forest in particular has 181 trails to boast of with 79 of them being blue and 43 of them being black diamond. Most of the trails are cross country in nature and the large network of trails allows for loops to meet any ability or fitness level.
Short Fun Blue Loop: This is a two-mile loop that is perfect for beginners or a short warm up. The loops is a climb and descend type of trail.
Field of Dreams: Field of dreams is a short intermediate trail with berms, drops, and small bridges. Overall the trail is pretty fast rolling.
Numbskulls: Numbskulls is a double black diamond trail with large rock jumps, steep downhills, a couple of short climbs, natural rooted sections, and slick rock challenges.
Where is Cumberland Community Forest?
Cumberland Forest is located in Cumberland, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island about 135 miles North of Victoria. You can park at the corner of Dunsmuir Ave and Sutton Rd. Next to the parking lot there is also a restroom.
Bike Shops Supporting Cumberland Community Forest
Since the trails are so close to the town you shouldn’t have any problems finding a bike shop or the resources you need to get out on the trails. Here are a couple of shops to check out:
Dodge City Cycles: This shop is just a short walk from the trailhead. It’s open Monday through Friday from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, Saturday from 9:30-5pm and Sunday from 10 am- 2 pm. Dodgecitycycles.com
Pro Tip: If you plan to go to these trails often, go into the bike shop and introduce yourself to the staff there. It’s better to get to know the employees when you don’t have an issue than when you’re stressed out with a broken bike.
Beaufort Cycles: Beaufort Cycles is less than 3 miles from the trailhead. They are open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am- 5:30 pm and Saturday from 10 am- 5 pm. They are closed on Sunday and Monday. Beaufortcycles.ca
5. Pineview (Kamloops)
The Pineview Trail System is located in Kamloops, British Columbia. It has 54 trails with almost 30 miles of trails ranging from beginner to expert. There is plenty of climbing and descending with some smoother trails and some trails with lots of rocks to challenge your skills. There are both double track and singletrack options at this trail system. There is parking available at the end of Hugh Allen Dr., along with trail information and maps.
6. Mount Macpherson
Mount Macpherson has 79 trails and is located in Revelstoke, British Columbia which is about 175 miles west of Banff, Alberta. This trail system boasts of over 24 miles of trails. The undulating terrain contains technical and rooty climbs, with smooth and fast descents. These trails have some manmade features such as log rides and jumps.
There are multiple parking areas, all of them on the East side of the trail system off of British Columbia Highway 23. There are also several restrooms and bike shops close by.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to check out the look out points along the trail as well!
7. Durham Forest
The Durham Forest is located in Uxbridge, Ontario and has about 60 miles of trails to offer to mountain bikers. The trails are easy to follow and most of them are geared toward beginner or intermediate riders. They are undulating with minimal sustained climbs or descents. They can become rather sandy during the Fall season. Parking is easy and you can easily access other trail systems such as Dagmar North Trails from the Durham Forest as well.
Pro Tip: When you hit a sandy section, loosen your grip on the bars. You will be able to ride the sand much more efficiently if you let your bike go and don’t resist its pull.
8. Mont St. Anne
There is a reason that the World’s Best racers all flock to Mont St. Anne, Quebec once a year for the World Cup that has been taking place there for almost 30 years. These trails are not for the faint of heart. They are rocky and rooty with large drops, extremely steep terrain, and difficult to navigate sections. If you are a beginner, there are certainly some trails for you but this bike park is primarily geared toward the expert rider. In addition to the downhill bike park, there are nearly 80 miles of single and double track for cross country riding available. An unlimited day pass will cost you around $40.
Pro Tip: These rocks get very slippery when they are wet. I like running a Maxxis Ikon for the cross country trails here.
9. Monte Christo- KC
This playful trail system is located in Rossland, British Columbia. It’s very user friendly and appeals to all skill levels. You can complete small loops or you can make a longer ride by climbing up to one of the summits or take a longer descent down and skip the climbing all together with a shuttle. On this trail system you’ll find skinnies, classic technical terrain, rock slabs, and other fun stunt options.
10. Smith Creek
The Smith Creek Trail System is located in West Kelowna, British Columbia. There are 25 trails in the system. One of the things that makes this trail system so popular is the meandering singletrack climb that makes a difficult climb so much more enjoyable. The descents are fast and flowy with a few technical sections that wouldn’t be an issue for an intermediate or advanced rider. Most of the features are high speed obstacles such as berms and jumps. This is described as the ‘ultimate all mountain descent’ on Trailforks.
11. Kicking Horse Bike Park
Kicking Horse Bike Park offers 46 lift accessed downhill trails featuring a 4,000 foot descent. The Bike Park, located in Golden, British Columbia, claims a large variety of trails and features. There are huge berms, rock slabs, and tremendous wooden features. The stats on their website state over 50 kilometers of trails, more than 29 trail runs, and 120 drops and jumps. An unlimited day pass will cost about $60 and a two-day pass will be $100. They also offer rentals and skills lessons.
Pro Tip: Make sure you bring extra water to drink on the lift. You might not think you are working very hard, but a day on the lifts can be very physically demanding.
12. Hydrocut Trail System
Hydrocut is one of Ontario, Canada’s top mountain bike destinations. It has just over 20 miles of continuous singletrack all condensed into a small area which means that the trail builders have made the most of this terrain. There are boardwalks, bridges, and rock garden littered all throughout this trail system. There are many manmade jumps that allow for an intermediate rider to work their way up as their confidence increases. It is recommended to park at the Glasgow Parking Lot.
Clubs and Groups Supporting Mountain Biking in Canada
Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA): WORCA has been around since 1989. They focus on bringing community to off-road cycling through youth programs, sanctioning events, and building and maintaining Whistler’s trails. WORCA.com
Kamloops Bike Rider Association: This association works to grow the sport of mountain biking through encouraging cyclists of all ages and all ability levels. They do this by representing the sport in the community, helping to grow trails, and advocating for the sport. https://www.bikekamloops.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=103
International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) Canada: IMBA Canada works to make sure that Canada remains a home to world class trails. The IMBA Canada group speaks to policy makers and helps to build trails. Imbacanada.com
Bike Skills Parks in Canada
Alice Lake Skills Park: This skills park is located in Squamish, British Columbia. It is geared towards beginners and kids with a pump track, bridges, small jumps, and a skinny.
Mountain Air Bike Skills Park: This skills park is located in the Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area in British Columbia. It has skills sections for everyone from beginner to advanced. The features focus on progression in order to increase the challenge as your skill improves. Some noteworthy features are dirt jumps, a suspension bridge, balance box, skinnies, and the World’s largest outdoor wood pump track that is free to the public. http://www.burnaby.ca/thing-to-do/outdoor-facilities/mountain-air-bike-skills-park.html
Garden City Bike Terrain Park: This park sits on just less than an acre of land and officially opened in 2014. It was designed for all skill levels and features a start hill, gap jumps, pump tracks, log rides, and even a viewing area for spectators. https://www.richmond.ca/parks/parks/about/amenities/park.aspx?ID=105
Why Mountain Bike in Canada?
Canada has a remarkable amount of variety in their trail systems. You can’t really go wrong when visiting Canada on two-wheels. The big, expansive views and heavily forested singletrack will likely take your breath away more than once. Not only will mountain biking in Canada make you a better bike-handler, but it might make you a better photographer too as you try to capture every moment of your trip.
Hannah Finchamp is a professional mountain biker for the Orange Seal Pro Team. When she isn’t riding her own bike she is coaching others to reach their goals as a Certified USA Cycling Coach and Certified Athletic Trainer. To learn more about the author please visit www.hannahfinchamp.com