BMX Biker Jumping Over Green Mountain

More than a Freeriding Mecca... Kamloops is a True Mountain Biking Community

Former BIKE magazine editor Leslie Anthony and Whistler freelance photographer put Kamloops on the mountain biking map way back in 1985.The story was called SICK and it featured Kamloops riders like Brett Tippie fishtailing down 50 degree slopes in crude hard tail mountain bikes, where the consequences of falling would be a tumble into the raging waters of the Thompson River far below.

Since that time, the Kamloops scene has been featured in videos, magazines, and splattered all over social media. In the process, the Kamloops gang were at the forefront of a kind of mountain biking that would become known as “freeriding” – descending and climbing wide open countryside where trails follow  the contours of the land and create that magical “flow” feeling that riders from around the world are beginning to discover. The number of pro riders from Kamloops is astounding – everyone from freeride pioneers like Brett Tippie to Olympian Catharine Pendel to dirt jumpers like Matt Hunter and slopestyle star Graham Agassiz call Kamloops home when they’re not travelling the globe to film the newest video segment.

Great riding starts with great soil, and Kamloops “hero dirt” is that magic combination of moisture in the soil that provides excellent traction and a super-smooth ride.

Without doubt the most famous destination is the Kamloops Bike Ranch – Canada’s largest municipal mountain bike park – an ambitious endeavour undertaken by the Kamloops Performance Cycling Club.

When he was a teenager, Dylan Sherrard was so stoked on mountain biking in Kamloops that he endured three tortuous Greyhound bus trips to get here, from Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. Over forty eight hours at a time, one way. He says, “I wanted to ride so badly, and those are the kind of sacrifices you make when you’re working at a grocery store.” Then, in Grade 11, he made a personal decision. He was going to move to Kamloops and ride his mountain bike full time. The good news is that his parents followed him down.

So, that goes to show the kind of dedication that the now 26 year old mountain biker has. What’s important to note, though, is that Sherrard did all of this not because he wanted to go to the X Games, or be on the Dew Tour. He simply wanted to ride his bike with his new friends in the Kamloops Bike Park. At first, he admits, “it was about going faster… jumping higher.” He hung out with other top Kamloops freeriders like Matt Hunter.

But now it’s about so much more. The long sunrises and sunsets. The way the light plays on the blond grasses and black tree limbs. He began expanding his riding horizons, and exploring newer trails near Harper Mountain. 

Five Fabulous Destinations

For the mountain biker arriving in Kamloops viewing the single-track laced trail network is akin to a powder skier looking at an untracked bowl or a surfer seeking unridden waves. 

There’s a feeling of anticipation and outright awe at discovering such possibilities for adventure and plain-old fun. The most mind boggling aspect is that no matter where you’re staying––you’ll never be more than a few minutes’ drive from a trailhead.

What mountain bikers will find, though, is that riding here is far more than just inspiring single track. It’s the unforgettable scent of sage covered desert and Ponderosa pine. It’s the warm welcome from the mountain biking community that is more than happy to share its secrets. It’s the well-stocked bike shops and friendly staff. And, of course, it’s the post ride burger and beer sessions at any one of Kamloops’s friendly sports bars, craft breweries, and outdoor patios.

Nowhere else does Kamloops’ devotion to mountain biking stick out like it does at The Kamloops Bike RanchCanada’s largest municipal bike park. The trails and built features are focused on dirt jumping, fast cornering, and successfully riding obstacles such as ladders, bridges, and teeter-totters. The trails have been designed by Brad Stewart, a local building legend who has sculpted routes for the famous Red Bull Rampage in Utah. On any given day, you might see some of the top riders in Canada sessioning on the jump line. Kids who grow up in Kamloops are incredibly lucky to have this kind of facility in their front yard. For instance, we have mountain bike kids’ camps that are taught by sponsored Specialized pros like Matt Hunter, Dylan Sherrard and Matt Miles. On Wednesdays, a teen group organized by Monique the Mountain Biker – a mother of one of the riders – meets here as well.

Kenna Cartwright Park (KCP) offers pure cross-country riding bliss. Located north of the Trans Canada Highway in Kamloops’s Aberdeen subdivision, this park is named after a long-time trails advocate and former Kamloops mayor. At 800 hectares in size, KCP is BC’s largest municipal park (take that, Stanley Park and Mount Douglas!) and has over 40 kilometres of trails, generally in the easy to intermediate range. Ride in the spring and see startling wildflower blooms, and take in the view of the Thompson Rivers from atop Mount Dufferin. The trails here are fast and flowy, no matter if you’re climbing or descending.

For a completely different change in scenery—and several degrees cooler in temperature, head north of town on Highway 5 and then east along the Paul Lake road out to Harper Mountain. A couple hundred metres of elevation gain can make a difference when it comes to making the riding more comfortable, and more tree coverage provides better shade. The Kamloops Performance Cycling Club is constantly building, maintaining, and planning new trails in this area, so there will be even more riders coming here in the future. Each spring, the forest floor becomes carpet of yellow arrowleaf balsam root wildflowers.

Family biking through hillsides of Kamlooos, BC.
Lady Cross-Country Biker arriving at top of a hill.

If you are looking for pretty much “endless single track,” Lac Du Bois (aka “Batch” or Batchelor Park) is the place. Set in a landscape of rolling hills covered in sagebrush, pine, and abundant wildflowers, Lac Du Bois is a very special place. The riding is ideal for beginners and intermediates and seems to stretch forever. Relatively easy ascents are followed up with fast, flowing single track sections. Note: Lac Du Bois is mostly native plants and grasses; make sure you’re not carrying any invasive species on your bike when you enter the park.

Finally, there is the Pineview Recreational Trails Project, a joint effort of the Kamloops Performance Cycling Centre (KPCC), the local business sector (led by KGHM-Ajax), and the provincial government (Province-FLNRO). Pineview features over fifty kilometres of easy terrain that is perfect for people just getting into the sport. It’s also a great place to learn about Kamloops rich ranching history. 

Tips From the Pros:

  • Carry plenty of drinking water (scarce to non-existent in natural areas), especially in the summer.
  • Carry spare tubes or a patch kit and pump if you’re not riding tubeless tires.
  • A charged up cell phone will help you if you get lost; major trail networks are detailed on popular apps such as Trailforks or Trailforks.com.
  • Respect the privacy of land owners and don’t trespass on private property.

Bike Package

Get 15% off our regular rate April 2017.

Please call 250.374.7878 and ask for the "Bike" rate to take advantage of this discount. 

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