Guest post from Karen, creator of RealEnergyFood.com
When I first arrived in Vancouver I was excited but kinda a little bit terrified of mountain biking here. I mean I’m from Perth Australia. You guys actually got mountains.
Many people associate Vancouver with hard core mountain biking, and you don’t often hear the words “beginner mountain biker” and “Vancouver” in the same sentence. But what many new mountain bikers or those thinking of getting into the sport don’t know is that there actually are many great beginner trails to learn on in Vancouver including the North Shore. Once you get into mountain biking in Vancouver and your skills improve, the sky is the limit when it comes to trails. There are trails everywhere! There are many trails on the North Shore, Burnaby Mountain, Squamish and more. Here is my guide to help ease you into mountain biking in Vancouver.
On the North Shore, the most popular riding area is Mt Fromme. Most of the trails here are more geared for those who don’t take life too seriously, but there are some trails for those starting out and intermediates. All the trails are accessible from the top of Mountain Highway in Lynn Valley.
The best place to start is a track called Bobsled. This is a relatively short trail which offers a beginner version of several obstacles you will face if you head into more advanced terrain. The trail offers berms (banked turns), and optional drops for when your skills increase.
The next step from here in Mt Fromme is Another Roadside Attraction. This trail can be ridden up or down and has some challenging obstacles for beginners such as small bridges, roots and rocks. Make sure to look ahead on this one as trail maintenance may not always be up to scratch.
Once you feel comfortable with Bobsled and Roadside Attraction, you next best bet is Espresso. The beginning of this trail used to be very difficult but a whole new section to the track has replaced the old rough section of track. This makes the whole trail a lot more rideable and enjoyable. This is a really fun flow trail which includes berms, higher bridges, drops, optional very scary sections and more. Espresso leads out to the Baden Powell Trail which can be pretty rocky at times.
Once you master Espresso, your next best bet would be Floppy Bunny. This trail can be quite easy if you go around most of the obstacles and perhaps walk a couple of sections. It can also be very challenging once you’re up to the challenge and include larger jumps, drops, and skinnier logs to ride over.
From here, you will be faced with very challenging trails in Mt Fromme. Next options would include Seventh Secret, Oil Can, and Pipeline. But these trails are not for beginners, you would want to be at least a comfortable intermediate to try these and basically an expert to try Pipeline.
Mt Seymour doesn’t have too much to offer beginners but there is plenty for intermediates and experts. I would avoid this one when you are starting out, but if you really want to ride this mountain your best place to start would probably be the Mushroom Trail. This is mainly double track wide which makes it easier to find an appropriate route.
I wouldn’t recommend this trail on a wet day though, as the rocks get very slippery and puddles build up fast and plentiful. The top half of the trail gets ridden a lot and can be damaged at times, but the lower half is usually in much better shape
Burnaby Mountain is a great option for those who don’t live near the North Shore. And there are some great trails for beginners and intermediates.
The best place to start is Gear Jammer. This is a great trail which is mostly downhill after a long climb (around 45min). Gear Jammer is made up of mainly natural obstacles but also offers several rock gardens, bridgen, and drops. Very flowy and fun trail. There is always a B-line option around some of the obstacles which means you don’t need to get off your bike much and this was a great intro to Vancouver mountain biking for me when I started.
If you are looking to improve your bike handling skills and balance, Dead Moped is a great option. There are many beginner features which are very close to the ground and therefore have minimal risk. Great practice area.
Once you have mastered Gear Jammer and Dead Moped, next options would be Mel’s & Nicole’s. These are steeper and more technically challenging trails so only attempt them once you feel comfortable with the others.
You may hear that Cypress has mountain biking too. While Cypress offers amazing mountain biking (like the rest of the North Shore), I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are at least an intermediate rider preferable with a downhill bike. These trails are very rough, steep, and fast!
Squamish has a large area for mountain biking and offers some very scenic and technical riding! But the good news for beginners is that there are trails to suit all levels.
The best place to start is a trail called Full Nelson. This trail is basically as hard as you make it. A beginner could ride it without any issues and a more advanced rider can still enjoy it by increasing speed and jumping the roll overs. It’s a pretty smooth trail that is full on rollers and berms. It’s good fun.
Once you feel comfortable with Full Nelson, a great next step is Angry Midget. This trail is quite different; it is much slower, more technical, and steeper. Take it easy your first time down and you should have a blast the second time you ride it.
Here are some maps of each area. I would always recommend that you drop into a local bike shop to buy a map and have a chat to the store attendant about the current trail conditions.
- Maps for Mt Fromme, Seymore, and Cypress: http://nsmba.ca/trail-maps
- Map for Squamish: http://fcdn.mtbr.com/attachments/western-canada/821755d1375564734-trails-lower-mainland-2013_0803new0006.jpg
While I haven’t gone through every single good track for beginners, I’ve created a starting point for someone wanting to get into mountain biking or for those new to the sport. Do you have any other suggestions of favourite beginner mountain bike trails in Vancouver? List them in the comment section below.
Written by Karen Wojciechowski
A keen runner, mountain biker, snowboarder and outdoor enthusiast, Karen started RealEnergyFood.com to share what she has learnt about creating healthy energy food on the go 🙂 Passionate about health and fitness, if she is not enjoying being outdoors she is happiest in her kitchen making delicious but healthy homemade sports supplements. With a bachelor’s degree in science and currently training at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition she loves researching the best ingredients for awesome recipes to get you performing at your optimal level. Find out more on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.