12
Jun

Discover the Best Bike Trails around Invermere and the Columbia Valley

I fell in love with mountain biking in the Columbia Valley as a beginner rider cruising along the Old Coach Trail and pedalling my way around the Junior Johnson. Since then, my confidence has skyrocketed, I’ve upgraded bikes a few times, and I live for weekends spent on the delicious, flowy singletrack trails around Invermere. June is National Bike Month and so it is only fitting I tell you about some of my favourite trails around Invermere from dirt jump parks and pump tracks for the kids to the best cross-country singletrack riding (my favourite,) all the way up to epic downhill mountain biking (where I am an excellent shuttle driver for two crazy boys.)  

Biking around Radium Hot Springs

 

Sinclair Creek and the Pump and Jump Bike Park:

If you’re traveling with kids, you’ll want to start your biking adventures in the Village of Radium Hot Springs. Head down to Sinclair Creek where you’ll find the Radium Pump and Jump bike park (a small pump track and series of dirt jumps.) From the official parking lot near the sawmill you can also bike along the Sinclair Creek Pathway, a wide gravel trail that’s relatively flat and perfect for beginner riders. Trail distance: 2.4 km round trip from the Sinclair Creek Parking lot to the Pump and Jump Park.    

Old Coach Trail from Dry Gulch to Radium:

The Old Coach Trail is an historic 9 km route, travelled by Model T’s in the 1920’s. The beginner-friendly double track trail starts from the edge of town in Radium Hot Springs and you’ll enjoy gentle grades for most of the distance along with scenic views over the Columbia Valley wetlands. We like to ride the trail one way with a shuttle from the Dry Gulch Trailhead back to Radium where the majority of the ride is flat or downhill. The trail ends with a long climb back up to Radium though, so make sure you bring lots of water for this part. You can read about the trail’s history and download the Old Coach Trail Guide here.    

Biking around Invermere

 

Mount Nelson Athletic Park Pump Track

The Mount Nelson Bike Park is a fun little stop with the kids where they can enjoy some laps around the small pump track in town. You’ll also find a skatepark here, popular with youth on skateboards and bikes.  

The Markin-MacPhail Westside Legacy Trail

Fans of paved trail riding will love this gorgeous trail being built between the Communities of Invermere and Fairmont. Once completed, the trail will be 25 km in length and will include several rest areas and viewpoints over the valley. The trail parallels beside and often above Westside Road on the far side of Lake Windermere. So far there is at least 10 km of paved trail completed so you can enjoy a decent out and back ride. Follow the progress of this trail on the Westside Legacy Trail website. And note that while the trail is paved, it is not a beginner trail. There are big hills that require steep climbing or descending in both directions.  

Exploring the Lillian Lake Mountain Bike Trail Network

Lillian Lake is located 7 km outside Invermere off Toby Creek Road on the way up to Panorama Mountain Resort. There are over 30 kilometres of cross-country mountain bike trails here to ride from a beginner double track loop up to intermediate/advanced singletrack riding.  

The Junior Johnson

The Junior Johnson is a good practice loop. Start the kids out on this double track loop with a few good hills to test their skills at braking and using their gears before progressing on to any of the other trails. Once they’ve mastered this one, you can take the kids out on the green singletrack trails, Filler Up and Let it Flow, creating an intermediate loop with Arch Potential and sections of the Johnson. Consult Trail Forks for a map of the Lillian Lake Trail Network.  

Kloosifier

If you are a strong intermediate rider, the Kloosifier is the number one trail you have to ride in the Columbia Valley. It’s smooth, flowy, and wickedly fun. The views over Toby Creek Canyon don’t hurt either. And you can always hop off your bike if you can’t make it up some of the steep hills because there are no long climbs on this loop. Every hill is blessedly short and punchy (rather than long and relentless.) The loop is 8 km in distance and you can connect it with the Johnson below if you want a longer ride.    

The Johnson

The next step up, the Johnson will be your favourite trail in the valley if you are an advanced rider. Strong intermediate riders may enjoy the trail as well, but I recommend testing out the Kloosifier first as it is less technical without the exposure that the Johnson has in a few places along the canyon. The loop is 10 km in distance and again, you can connect it with the Kloosifier for a longer ride.  

Downhill and Cross-country Biking at Panorama Mountain Resort

The Panorama Mountain Resort lift-accessed bike park is open weekends in June, and then daily in July and August. Downhill riders can get their adrenaline fix at the Panorama Bike Park while families will enjoy the paved 4 km Valley Loop – which while paved, still has some very big hills for a good workout. Another cross-country trip we enjoy at Panorama is the ride out to the Hale Hut on the Pacer Trail for approximately 5 km return. The Pacer Trail gains about 100 metres but it is never overly steep. From the junction with the Hale Trail you'll gain another 60 metres or so (in a very short distance where you may be pushing bikes.) Afterwards, it’s a very fast ride back out. The Valley Trail and Hale Hut outing can be combined to create a longer ride of roughly 9 km in distance. Visit the Panorama Mountain Resort website to view the summer trail map. You can also see the downhill and cross-country bike trails on Trail Forks.  

Downhill Riding on Mount Swansea

Advanced to expert mountain bikers looking for an epic outing will want to visit the Mount Swansea Trail Network where it’s all about the downhill ride. Most people shuttle this area, taking turns driving up to the top and meeting their group at the bottom, but there is a climbing trail if you enjoy enduro-style riding. Consult Trail Forks to see the trails and read the description for each one. I recommend starting with Hula Girl or the new South Park Trail off the South Ridge to get a feel for the area before advancing onto harder trails.      

Choosing your Bike Basecamp

When you choose accommodations for your biking vacation in the Columbia Valley there are a few key things you’ll want to take into consideration. First, you’ll want to choose a hotel or resort in a central location so that you won’t be driving long distances to reach the trails. I recommend choosing a property in the middle between Radium Hot Springs, Panorama, and Fairmont – and for that, the Community of Invermere is ideal. Next, I always look for a property that has a swimming pool and hot tub on site. You’ll appreciate this at the end of the day after you’ve spent hours on your bike. Finally, if you aren’t traveling with your own bikes, you’ll want to consider bike rentals. As a family traveling with only one vehicle, we also like to research shuttle services so that we can do some of the longer trails one way. It’s nice to get a ride to nearby trailheads as well and then bike back to your resort at the end without having to worry about where the vehicle was parked. In the Invermere area, I’d recommend checking out Copper Point Resort where you’ll find indoor/outdoor pools, hot tubs, bike rentals (for adults and children,) a bike tool bench as well as an air pump in the underground parkade, and shuttle services available to local trailheads.  

About the Author

Tanya Koob
Tanya calls Calgary home during the week, but spends most of her weekends traveling around BC in search of awesome bike trails with her husband and 10-year old son. The Columbia Valley is her favourite destination for mountain biking, paddling, and skiing in the winter. Tanya contributes outdoor content to several magazines and websites, and is also the creator and writer behind the blog, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies at www.rockiesfamilyadventures.com where she chronicles her family’s adventures exploring across Alberta and BC.