Head off the beaten track to discover some of British Columbia's hidden MTB trail gems!
When you talk to mountain bikers about the trails in Central British Columbia, you could easily get the impression that the singletrack stops in Pemberton and Kamloops. "North of Pemberton... why would you want to go there? What's out there? Definitely not any decent mountain biking, that's for sure."
While you won't find any chairlift rides once you drive past the Whistler Bike Park, many remote corners of British Columbia are home to hidden treasure troves of fantastic singletrack that see a fraction of the traffic that pummels the trails of the Sea to Sky corridor. But if you want to explore these hidden gems, you'll need to be prepared to log some serious windshield miles to get there.
Heading north out of Pemberton, it'll take almost 4.5 hours of driving to hit the first hot spot on this list: Williams Lake. Williams Lake is home to four expansive trail systems, but one of the best is the Fox Mountain network. On Fox Mountain, you can either pedal or shuttle as the mood takes you—a theme that will be repeated in several places throughout Central BC. Check out Moose on the Loose, a fantastic professionally-built flow trail that runs down the mountain, and AFlow Daddy, the old-school flow line that helped put Williams Lake on the map.
Just an hour and 15 minutes beyond Williams Lake, you'll reach the bustling town of Quesnel. Quesnel is home to a few small but dense trail systems, the best of which is the Wonderland Trails. Riding a loop on the Wonderland Trail itself is a great way to get started in this trail system, with superb wooden bridges, rocky chutes, and wooden drops. Be sure to pedal back up to the top and try out some of the other rowdy romps, too!
After leaving Quesnel, you could try to stop and ride in Prince George, since there's definitely plenty of singletrack, but the topography is fairly flat in this area. To get back into more mountainous terrain, it'll take about three and a half hours of driving to reach the small hamlet of Burns Lake.
The Boer Mountain Trail System on Kager Lake, just outside the town of Burns Lake, is an absolute singletrack gold mine! On this small mountainside, you'll find a smorgasbord of professionally built mountain bike trails constructed to IMBA standards. Many of the most popular trails in the system are jump-filled flow trails built by the renowned Gravity Logic trail crew from Whistler. There's also fantastic free camping right at the trailhead, and Kager Lake is perfect for a post-ride swim.
Finally, another hour and a half of driving will bring you to the city of Smithers. Smithers is the largest community in this region of BC, making it a hub of industry and tourism. But beyond that, this region is home to some shockingly massive mountains! Hudson Bay Mountain soars 2,099 meters above the city of Smithers, topping out at an elevation of 2,589 MASL. The Babine Mountains form the skyline on the eastern side of town. And on the flanks of Hudson Bay, you'll find some burly shuttle trails that could rank among the best descents in British Columbia! And for easily-accessible riding, a dense trail system can be accessed directly from downtown Smithers.
Smithers, the northernmost extent of this incredible singletrack corridor, is a long way from Vancouver: about 12 and a half hours of non-stop. But since you have so many places to stop on the way up and the way back, this is one mountain bike road trip that is well worth the effort!