Some call it a hike-a-bike, some call it a summit mission, some even call it a sufferfest. I like to call it an adventure! Whatever your taste for wording and whatever your style of riding, if you can handle the long hours in the saddle, the steep and technical terrain, the relentless hike-a bike, and the long gruelling climbs, these Revelstoke adventure rides might just be for you!
Located in the BC interior, Revelstoke, or Revy for short, is surrounded by big mountains and vast wilderness! Aside from our 100km+ of purpose built mtb trails, we are also lucky to have access to some world class high alpine multi-use trails which are open to hikers, bikers, and trail runners. Some are even open to horseback and moto trials riders. Perhaps it’s because we Canadians are so darn polite, but there is virtually no user conflict on these trails, and there are certainly no shortage of big adventure rides to be found!
My name is Matt Yaki and I am no stranger to adventure rides. In fact, I am an adventurer by trade! I am a professional mountain bike guide and the owner of Wandering Wheels in Revelstoke BC. I’ve spent hundreds of hours exploring these mountains and tackling the big adventure rides in and around Revy. In no particular order, here are my top 5:
1. Mt. McCrae
One of the nicest and easiest (relatively speaking, of course) hike-a-bike summit missions around! Mt. McCrae is located in the Selkirk Mountains, to the South of Revelstoke Mountain Resort and Mt. Cartier. A long drive on well graded forest service roads will bring you to the trailhead at about 1800m. This rugged backcountry trail measures in at 9km one way to the summit at just over 2500m. On the way up there’s a good mix of challenging steep riding and straight up hike-a-biking. To reach the summit, be prepared for a true scramble without your bike. Unless you are Danny MacAskill or Hans No Way Rey, you won’t be able to ride back down off of this summit anyways. Once you get back on your bike the riding is all time! The trail itself provides incredible downhill riding with several playful natural features and even some fast flow sections. There are a few sections where the trail actually peters out into nothing, making freeriding the name of the game. This is definitely one of my favourites!
2. Joss Mountain
A little longer and a little tougher than McCrae, the Joss Mountain Trail measures in at about 11km one way to the summit and has over 1000m of elevation gain and descent. It is located deep in the Monashee Mountain Range and the approach to the trailhead requires a solid 4wd vehicle. This trail also provides a good mix of rideable vs hike-a-bike on the way up and it’s one of only a few true summits in the area that you can access with your bike. This trail is prone to changing trail conditions and can sometime be quite wet and/or overgrown at lower elevations. Thanks to a dedicated crew of Revy locals for clearing out the trail a couple of times in the past few years. This is another favourite for sure! An awesome trail with incredible 360 degree views!
3. The (True) Ultimate Frisby
Of course you’ve heard of Frisby Ridge, maybe you’ve even ridden it. If you’ve carried on and dropped into the Ultimate Frisby DH Trail then you’re doing something right! But to really do it right, to accomplish the True Ultimate Frisby, you need to think like a local and ride it right from town! Be prepared for a long time in the saddle. This one is a little less backcountry with zero hike-a-bike, but believe me, it’s just as epic. In total this ride comes in at a little over 50km with 1500m of elevation gain and descent! Thanks to the Revelstoke Cycling Association the Frisby XC Trail has recently seen some well deserved trail upgrades. This summer they also plan to build a connector trail to the Ultimate DH and they will be extending the alpine XC trail another 7km along the ridge. This is a big adventure and a definite feat of endurance, nice and close to home.
4. Fred Laing Ridge
This one is not so close to home! The Fred Laing Ridge Trail is located about 130km North of Revelstoke, above the small Village of Mica Creek. It is an old and rugged hiking trail measuring in at around 7km from the trailhead at 1650m to the summit at 2350m. It’s pretty much a hike a-bike the whole way up. Most people, even the locals, don’t bother making the trek to tackle this one, but I think the views alone make it worthy of at least one visit. Not to mention the fast and fun ride back down, and the opportunity for some pretty sweet freeride ridgelines! If you’re adventurous and skilled enough you can even ride right off the top of this summit on steep slabrock. Most people will choose to leave their bike just below the summit. If you’re looking for a unique backcountry adventure, check out Fred Laing Ridge.
5. Standard Peak
This one might just be my favourite bike ride ever! You’ve probably heard of Keystone Standard Basin – The classic Revelstoke high alpine trail. Most people would be satisfied after completing the traditional out and back ride to the Keystone Cabin, but for those of you looking for the ultimate adventure, Standard Peak is it! In my opinion this is the epitome of the adventure ride! Carry on past the cabin to the summit of Standard Peak for a ride totalling 42km with almost 2000m of elevation change! This ride is no joke! It is rugged, technical, and steep backcountry singletrack with several hike-a-bike sections, a bit of route finding, and a loose shale scramble to the summit. The views from the summit are breathtaking and if you manage to catch it at the right time of year, the colours of the wildflowers and the forest in Standard Basin can be otherwordly. Grab a good, strong buddy for this one and don’t forget to leave some cold beers waiting back at the truck! You’ve earned it! Learn more about the history of this classic route.
Mt. Cartier– There was a time that I would have put Mt. Cartier at the top of the list for Revelstoke adventure rides. Measuring in at 17km of singletrack (one way) with 2000m of climbing and descending, it is the biggest hike-a-bike summit mission around! I’ve hiked it a few times and more recently, heli-dropped it dozens of times for work, so the sense of adventure just isn’t the same as it once was for me. With a bit of added traffic and some much needed trail maintenance, the Mt. Cartier trail is riding better than ever! If you’ve never done it, you should definitely put it on your list!
Eagle Pass Mountain – Another straight up hike-a-bike summit mission, the 6km trail to the top of Eagle Pass Mountain is very steep and quite technical. The views are great and the ride back down is fun, but it’s over quickly. Watch for some sweet freeride rockslab lines off the side of this trail!
All of the rides listed here are remote big mountain trails, not to be taken lightly. If you decide to give it a go, make sure you are prepared. Emergency situations can develop in the blink of an eye and help can sometimes be hours or even days away!
Here’s just a few tips to make your ride go smoothly:
Do your homework – Plan, search google, study maps, review trip reports, check the weather forecast, review wildlife encounters in the area, etc.
Prep your bike – Self explanatory. Make sure your bike is ready for the mission ahead – don’t wait until the top of Mt. Cartier to swap out your brake pads!
Start early – Give yourself plenty of time and lots of daylight. Pack a headlamp and spare batteries just in case.
Communications (or lack thereof) – There is little to no cell service on these rides. Leave detailed trip plans with someone you trust. Carry a Spot or Delorme InReach device.
Pack properly – The enduro fanny pack just won’t do for these rides! Pack lots of water, food, a full tool kit with tubes, tape, zip ties, ski straps, more tape (you never know!), derailleur hangers, chainlinks, a full first aid kit (and most importantly – know how to use it!) with an emergency blanket. A good pocket knife or multitool, bear spray and/or bear bangers are also essential items.
Dress properly – Wear or pack extra layers and never go into the alpine without a jacket even on a hot summer day. The weather can change quickly in the mountains. Don’t forget the bug spray and sunscreen.
Partner up – While I am all for solo adventuring from time to time, I would definitely recommend choosing a strong and competent partner or group of friends for these rides. Prepare for Apres – This might be the most important rule of all! Leave some cold beverages and salty snacks back at the truck. You will definitely want them after these big rides!
Sometimes packing a beer up for the summit is a good idea too!
Hire a guide – If you are not comfortable with all the above points, I suggest you hire a professional and experienced guide.
Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, usually when you least expect it! I’m sure Dave Pearson can attest to that! Luckily the weather was good on this day.
Wandering Wheels – Revelstoke Mountain Biking
Wandering Wheels is an industry leading mountain bike guiding and instruction company.
We offer all-inclusive multi-day trips, day tours, lessons, shuttles and helibiking! Check out our website here and see our full line of 2017 All-Inclusive MTB Vacations here.
Another capture from Fred Laing Ridge. Steve Shannon Photo
Thanks to our sponsors for keeping us riding smoothly during our big adventures: