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4 Rowdy Runs in Cumberland's Gravity Zone

Challenge yourself on 4 of Cumberland's favorite tech trails.

Mountain Biking Extreme

Cupcake Photo: Greg Heil


Cumberland reigns as the unofficial epicenter of mountain biking on Vancouver Island. This old coal town-turned-logging town has now almost fully completed its transition into a tourist town. The main street trailhead is located just a few pedal strokes from a historic hotel and bar/restaurant, modern microbrewery, espresso bar, pizza joint, taco place, full-service bike shop, and more. On any day of the week, you'll see swarms of riders, both locals and tourists alike, pedaling down the road and out into Cumberland Forest.

While Cumberland is best-known for its approachable flowy blue trails, the mountainside above town is covered with singletrack of all styles, and you can still find plenty of rowdy lines to test the limits of both bike and body. The most technical trails on the mountain are found in the "Gravity Zone," located to climber's right of the Sobo No Michi climbing trail. The Gravity Zone features the steepest grades on the mountain, the biggest rock gardens and rock slabs, and of course: the most intimidating jumps.

In the Gravity Zone, you'll find a mash up of steep-and-deep natural lines carved into the earth that drop straight down the mountain, slide down slippery rock slabs, and funnel through all manner of gnarly rocks and roots. A smattering of massive gap jumps and substantial cliff drops are mixed into these trails wherever they can fit. This means that the trails will often transition from old-school gnar to a massive set of gap jumps, and then drop right into a tight, twisty section. It can be hard to get a sense of what's coming next as a first-time rider, but thankfully the biggest trail features usually have quite long sight lines as you head into them. Also, the biggest features can usually be bypassed if you want to focus on gnar, not air.

Cumberland's climate is extremely wet: the town receives about 215.7 cm of precipitation per year, mostly in the form of rain. Consequently, exactly how hard these double black diamond lines feel is largely dependent on how dry the trails are when you head out to ride. In the wet, these steep, rooty lines can be downright treacherous. But when the trails are nice and tacky, they are more approachable. Also, while it might feel strange to think it, at certain times of year the trails can even get dusty, and the loose, sliding soil creates a totally different type of slipperiness that, again, adds another layer of challenge to these tough trails. If you find yourself feeling even a bit intimidated, be sure to carefully choose a day when the roots and rock slabs might be on the dryer side (but not too dry).

Get started exploring Cumberland's Gravity Zone with these four recommended runs and from there, start mixing and matching your favorite segments to create the ultimate gnar fest!

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