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Rider: Jeff C.

Best Mountain Bike Rides in Pemberton, BC

Shred rock slabs, chutes, and all manner of chunk on Pemberton's best trails!

Mountain Biking Difficult, Severe, Extreme

Rider: Jeff C.
Rider: Jeff C. Photo: Greg Heil


Pemberton masquerades as a sleepy bedroom community just down the road from the ultra-popular mountain destination of Whistler. While uninitiated tourists might think that Pemberton is simply an affordable place to live for the hordes of employees grinding away in Whistler's tourism industry, mountain bikers in the know realize that the riding in Pemberton is absolutely world-class in its own right.

The trails in Pemberton are located at a much lower elevation than those in Whistler. Couple this lower elevation and warmer temperatures with somewhat dry, sandy soil (by British Columbia standards) and endless rock slabs and rock gardens, and you have a mountain bike destination that is rideable much earlier and much later in the season than Whistler. As a result, many Whistler locals also spend plenty of time riding down in "Pemby" when the conditions higher in the mountains are less than ideal.

While you can still choose to ride Pemberton during the hot summer months, the trails can get quite loose and silty during this time period. For ideal trail conditions, head to Pemby during the spring or in the fall after the rains have resumed.

The trail system here is divided into four different zones but two of these are essentially connected. The Mackenzie and Mosquito Lake trails run almost seamlessly into each other, and most of the iconic trails are found in this massive web of interconnected singletrack. Pemberton's most famous trails include lines such as Cream Puff, Rusty Trombone, and Overnight Sensation. Newer additions, such as Live Like Lisa, are also gaining renown in this area. But the Mackenzie/Mosquito Lake complex is vast and offers myriad options above and beyond the trails mentioned here.

Next, the One Mile Lake trail system, which also connects to Nairn Falls, is a popular quick hit that's easily rideable from downtown Pemberton. You'll find a few flowier trails in this zone to enjoy, with some short but steep rock slabs on top of the mountain.

Finally, many of the trails in the Upper Pemberton zone aren't very well marked, which can make the area difficult to navigate for the uninitiated solo rider. However, one well-marked trail does anchor this network and provides a fantastic ride: Fat Tug. This short but sweet loop is absolutely a must-ride when you're in Pemberton.

No, Pemby isn't nearly as hip or well-developed as Whistler... and that's a big part of its appeal. This small town is getting busier as the years roll on, but it still retains a local feel that many riders will appreciate. Combine this low-key vibe with absolutely stellar singletrack, and the results are spectacular! So if you haven't ridden Pemby yet, you'd better put it on your hit list.

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