An embarrassment of riches: BC Bike parks and summer holidays

I’m guessing that since my last two posts have been about our upcoming summer holidays, one or two people might have guessed that I’m excited about holidays. The truth is, it can’t come soon enough, and we’ve got a whole lot of fun stuff planned.


The view atop Silver Star is incredible!

As for the mountain biking part of the holiday, the plan has been to return to Silver Star. I loved Silver Star last year – it was my first bike park and I was left wanting more. This year they’ve added new cross-country runs, so we plan to spend one day on the downhill runs and one day checking out the new stuff. There’s also a good chance that I’m going to take my first lesson while we’re there, which will free Rivers up to explore some of the runs he can’t play on when babysitting me.

The thing is, Vernon is en route, and we love visiting the north Okanagan region, stopping at some dairies and wineries, and drinking apple slushies at Davison Orchard. Because plans are flexible though, I thought we better check out what’s available a few more BC bike parks and see if there’s somewhere else we should check out.

In a perfect world – or at least Rivers’ perfect world – we’d be riding and staying and holidaying at Whistler – the grand-daddy of all bike parks (as they say). Of course, the week we’re looking at CrankWorx is on, and there is no scenario in which being at Whistler during CrankWorx appeals to me. We’ll definitely ride there sometime – not just in the amazing bike park with some of the most appealing beginner runs I’ve heard of, but also the great cross country trails that surround the whole village.

Sun Peaks, in Kamloops, is also a great looking option – as my Kamloopian sister pointed out with the added suggestion that that way we’d get to visit. Sun Peaks recently made the top ten bike parks list on World Bike Parks. I’ve heard that they’ve been working hard to expand their beginner runs, and do a great job of maintenance. However, while I have loved skiing at Sun Peaks, and my parents have loved hiking at Sun Peaks we won’t be riding it on this trip.

Rivers riding some long flowy single track in south eastern BC

Since we’ll also be in the West Kootenays on our holidays, I checked out what Red Mountain resort offers. I have to say, I was pretty put off by their website – they offer bike and stay packages, feature a sweet mountain biking picture on their home page, and make it look like they are bike friendly. So finally I asked my resident bike park expert, and he said there’s lots of riding in Rossland (which I was already aware of) but that the resort had no lift assist riding. I find their website really misleading, and if I was a tourist and didn’t know the area, I’d definitely arrive expecting on mountain lifts and riding. I’m not saying they have to offer that; I’m just saying they should be clear that they don’t.

In the interest of a full run down of BC bike parks, I checked out what other hills that I relate to as ski resorts might be riding the wave of mountain biking (how do you like those mixed metaphors?).

  • The north shore of Vancouver has some of the best riding in BC, or so I’ve been told, but no bike park at any of its three ski hills. Grouse has some fun looking summer activities – zip line, anyone. Cypress (North Vancouver) only mentions road riding – 2400 feet climbing a road. Oh, NO THANK YOU! And Hemlock – to the east of Vancouver – doesn’t even allow hiking in the summer.
  • Ski Kimberley posts a link to a map of trails in the Kimberley area, though most of the trails are not marked for what activity they are open for.
  • Big White (Kelowna) & White Water (Nelson) pretends summer doesn’t even exist;
  • There has been a lot of hew and cry on the island about Mt. Washington (Courtney) not opening their bike park this year. They cite financial limitations, though local riders question that. I’d heard it was not beginner friendly, not so well maintained, and so not a good option for me anyway.
  • Powder King – that holds such fond summer memories for me as the place I learned to ski, almost drowned in powder, refused as a teenager to ski in anything but jeans, and was  rescued from a major wipe-out by the coolest of my very cool cousins – is a winter only hill. Then again, they only get about 3 months of summer up there, so why bother.

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