Mountain Biking

Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine goes road-tripping in our backyard to discover the best trails and ales. Giddy up.

By Vince Hempsall. Photos by Peter Moynes.

Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine photo editor Peter Moynes and I are on a “Slaycation” road trip around the West Kootenay visiting the region’s newest mountain bike trails and breweries and we’re starting on the East Shore, which, as we discover immediately after disembarking the ferry, is like driving back to 2005 because we can’t see one person on their smartphone.

“The East Shore” is a local term that refers to the area on the east shoreline of Kootenay Lake encompassing Riondel, Crawford Bay, Gray Creek and a few other tiny communities. It can be accessed via Highway 3A from Creston or the Kootenay ferry, the longest free scenic ferry in the world. At its eastern terminal is the quaint Ladybug Coffee stand that serves the heartiest breakfast sandwich in the province and it’s here we realize we can ditch the Trailforks app and just chat up the locals for beta on where to ride, kind of like we all used to do at the turn of the century.

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Mountain Biking

Relaxing at the Trail Bluffs overlooking the Columbia River.

To learn more about mountain biking in the area visit the tourism websites.

 

Enjoy your #KootenayRoadTrip

Behold, adventure seekers. The Kootenays are calling. From high above to the lakes and rivers below, get ready to find your outdoor thrills.

It’s no secret that we love getting high in the Kootenays – high above the trees that is. Experience a bird’s-eye-view for yourself by taking the ultimate aerial plunge at Kokanee Mountain Zipline. Test your limits by soaring through the forest on six lines including a 2400 foot cross-canyon mega ride.

Mountain biking is a way of life out here, and our steep terrain provides the setting for some of the most challenging and rewarding trails in the world (for real!). Downshift into your climbing gears to pedal your way up into the alpine; the thrill of the downhill awaits. Challenge yourself to the epic Seven Summits trail in Rossland or the extensive network of trails around Nelson at Mountain Station or Morning Mountain. You’ll also find bike parks throughout the region to develop your skills or watch the youngsters defy gravity and fear.

Road cyclists will savour the unbeatable winding waterfront and backroads in the region. Rolling terrain, satisfying climbs, diverse scenery and ideally located cafes and accommodations are ideal for skinny tires. Choose from leisurely half day rides to epic multi-day loops.

Interested in going underground? Discover a vast network of stalactites and stalagmites at the otherworldly Cody Caves near Ainsworth Hot Springs. Guided tours of the underground labyrinth reveal the secrets of this amazing place. If you’re more the terrestrial sort, you’ll find great disc golf courses in Rossland and Ymir.

Water sports and long warm summers go hand in hand in the Kootenays. Rent a canoe, kayak or SUP and enjoy the panoramic views of Kootenay Lake in Nelson or Kaslo, or challenge yourself to river surfing on the Columbia River in Trail. Hire a local guide to take you fishing in the hopes of landing a prize trout any time of year.

Pack your gear to choose your own adventure and get yourself on the trails or on the water.

In the Air

On the water

On the Ground

To learn more about summer adventure in the area visit the tourism websites.

Enjoy your #KootenayRoadTrip

It doesn’t matter if it’s early spring or late fall, hiking is accessible all across the area. Lower elevations take you on long walks along the Kaslo, Kootenay and Columbia rivers, and along the shores of Kootenay Lake. As the snow rescinds to unveil the wild flowers at higher elevations, the old growth forests and evergreens flourish and welcome visitors. It really is a magical hiking experience, for all ages and levels of fitness.

Fancy an adventurous hike to the alpine with soaring 360 vistas? Got ‘em. How about a quick and accessible hike for a bird’s eye view of our charming mountain towns? Yup. Or a leisurely walk in the woods or along the river that even the little ones will love? Oh yeah, we’ve got those too. Big crowds from the big city? Nope, sorry. Just awesome hikes with all kinds of natural beauty and peaceful quiet.

With multiple communities on the shores of our rivers and lakes, there’s all kinds of lower elevation trails to choose from. Our mild climate means that most of these trails are accessible from early spring to late fall. And with loads of great restaurants, cafes and even ice cream and chocolate shops in town, you’ll take comfort in knowing that you can treat the kids (and yourself) to a post-hike reward just around the corner.

Head to Kaslo for a gentle hike along the town’s namesake river that feels like something out of a fairy tale. Mossy banks, towering trees and burbling waters are bookended by twin picturesque covered bridges on the 3.2km loop trail. Take the scenic Kootenay Lake ferry to the East Shore and explore Pilot Bay Provincial Park with an extensive network of trails. A short hike leads to the beautifully restored lighthouse overlooking all three arms of Kootenay Lake.

Stretching from the shores of Kootenay Lake all the way to the town of Salmo, the Great Northern Rail Trail is another family favourite option. A 5km out and back from either trailhead in Nelson features soaring trestles and easy grades. At just over 1.5km and 100m of elevation gain, the Kootenay Columbia Trail in Rossland leads to a stellar viewpoint overlooking the mountain town. Link up with other trails or head back to town and imagine how much snow must fall to explain those super steep roofs that sit like a hat atop all the houses.

If getting high (in the alpine) is your thing, you might want to extend your stay. Take a scenic drive to Meadow Creek and up quiet forest roads to the trailhead for Monica Meadows, one of the most incredible hikes in North America. Glaciers, wildflowers, fiery larch trees in the fall and real deal wilderness are your reward. Between Nelson and Balfour is the gateway to Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, featuring some truly jaw-dropping and challenging hikes to alpine lakes and scrambles to rocky summits. If you want to stick closer to Nelson, you’ll find our version of Vancouver’s Grouse Grind. Follow the steep trail to Pulpit Rock for great views, or keep going all the way up to Flagpole for over 650m of heart-pounding hiking. If you’d prefer more peace and quiet, tackle nearby Toad Mountain for a more mountainous expedition.

Rossland is home to some meaty hikes too, including the punchy Old Glory Trail. With over 1000m of elevation gain and just under 20km out and back, make sure to pack a few energy bars and lots of liquid. The celebrated Seven Summits Trail is even longer, with a rollercoaster route that features plenty of scenic vistas and is a brag-worthy bucket list hike.

With multiple communities and all kinds of hikes to choose from, take your time to explore the region and enjoy the mild to wild trails.

MUST DO – ADVENTUROUS HIKES

Family friendly hikes are all around the area, and sit at lower levels so they can be done spring to fall.

MUST DO – FAMILY HIKES

To learn more about hiking in the area visit the tourism websites.

Enjoy your #KootenayRoadTrip