A 22-kilometre cross-country ride through alpine meadows to a cabin by the lake and back.
A riveting descent from alpine meadows to Lake Revelstoke 5,000 feet below.
A smooth, 13 kilometre climb along an alpine ridge followed by a descent back down.
Throw in 40 kilometres of cross-country trails on Mt. Macpherson, a newly re-built downhill trail on Boulder Mountain, a wide five-kilometre loop in Mount Revelstoke National Park and several rogue trails and it’s little wonder why Revelstoke is growing as a mountain biking destination.
“Quite honestly, I think it’s absolutely amazing,” said Brendan MacIntosh, a former mountain bike racer and owner of Flowt Bikes. “There’s just more variety of trails here so you don’t have the same type of trails to ride over and over again.”
Cycling in Revelstoke goes back to the late-19th century. There are photos of a cycling club that existed in 1899 and Eddie Edwards was the top racer. According to Rob Mohr, the long-time former president of the Revelstoke Cycling Association, people started mountain biking on rogue trails around Revelstoke sometime in the late 1980s.
It wasn’t until 1998 that Revelstoke got its first official mountain biking trail – Root Canal on Mt. Macpherson, which was built by volunteers from the Revelstoke Cycling Association.
“That was our first kick at the cat and you can tell,” said Mohr. “A lot of people like its because its what they call old school. I don’t find it particularly challenging, I just find it annoying.”
Up next came Buff Enuff (also built by volunteers), followed by several trails on Mt. Mackenzie (a few of which still exist as rogue trails). Now, the Mt. Macpherson and adjoining Begbie Bluffs area contains almost 40 kilometres of single track for all riding abilities.
The 22 kilometre ride through Keystone-Standard Basin is the epic mountain biking trip in the Revelstoke area. An old mining trail, it was re-built by the forest service and locals started biking it in the late-80s, Mohr said. The ride climbs for about one kilometre through a forest before emerging into stunning alpine meadows that stretch as far as the eye can see. The view encompasses the jagged Selkirks and the Monashee Mountains that dominate the opposite side of Lake Revelstoke, including the piercing pyramid of Frenchman’s Cap.
The best time to ride the trail is in August, when the snow has melted, the flowers are in full bloom and the trail is usually dry. You’ll pedal through endless fields of wild flowers, switchback up a ridge and then descend to a cabin on a lake. There, it’s time to turn around and head back.
The Martha Creek trail on Sale Mountain is one of the greatest descents you can do on a bike. Accesses at the top of a logging road where BC Hydro built a microwave tower, the trail begins by traversing through alpine meadows before entering the forest, where it goes down and down and down… and then down some more. When Specialized wanted to show off their new mountain bike, this is the trail they took it down.
The new Frisby Ridge trail adds to Revelstoke’s list of epic rides. Built last summer, it begins at an elevation of 1,300 metres and travels slowly uphill until after seven kilometres it reaches above the tree line into stunning alpine habitat. The trail peaks at an elevation of 2,000 metres and finishes at a small alpine lake. The reward for all that climbing is a fast, flowing descent back to the car.
“We expect these trails to attract a lot of attention and get Revelstoke known as a cycling destination,” said Keith McNab, the current president of the RCA.
The Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce has gone a long way there, publishing a new map this year that highlights all the trails in the area.
The RCA’s focus the next three years will be re-building and legalizing the rogue trails on Boulder Mountain that were damaged by logging last fall. Work on the only legal trail in the area was recently undertaken but is still incomplete and the trail is not open yet for riders.
“It will soon be a fast and flowing thrill to ride with great views across the valley as well,” said McNab.
For MacIntosh, the epic rides around here and the network of cross-country trails make it an ideal place to live.
“There’s nothing like Sale Mountain and nothing like Keystone anywhere in the province as far as I know,” said MacIntosh. Add Frisby Ridge to the list and it will take a long time to get bored.
Note: This story has been corrected from its original form. Initially, it said the Boulder Mountain trail was completed. In fact, Bruno Long, who is leading the effort to build the trail, informed me that works remains to be done and the trail is not open for riding.