Ride the best trails in Cumberland: the epicenter of Vancouver Island's mountain biking scene!
Dunsmuir Ave in the small village of Cumberland, BC (population 4,000) is quite unusual for a main street: it serves as the main trailhead for the nearby forest. And in that unsuspecting forest, mountain bikers can pedal over 170 different trails snaking through the trees and spreading across the low mountainsides!
Cumberland reigns as the unofficial epicenter of mountain biking on Vancouver Island. This old coal town-turned-logging town has now almost completed another transition: to that of a tourist town. The main street trailhead is situated 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.
The first thing you need to know about riding in Cumberland is that most of the trails on the mountain weren't planned or strategized in any which way. The original renegade trails were constructed in a haphazard fashion, and only in recent years have local mountain bike advocates attempted to stitch them together into more logical routes. Headed by the United Riders of Cumberland (UROC), the new trails being built help form more logical routes down the mountain, and dedicated climbing trails make getting to the top of the descents less painful and easier to navigate.
Even so, creating the best ride combinations requires stitching together a whole slew of short, interconnecting trails into a logical and rewarding route. Even with the most carefully-crafted routes, you'll still often be faced with awkward climbs in the middle of a descent or nonobvious turns through back-to-back trail junctions to reach the next rad downhill. That's all just a part of riding in Cumberland... and even still, the trails here are oh-so-worth-it!
Cumberland's trail system is famous for its fun, flowy, jump-filled blue lines. While many mountain bike destinations in British Columbia feel like they're filled with gnar and stacked with challenge all the time, in Cumberland, you can actually enjoy some delightful swoop and flow. This approachable character is one reason that the trail system here is so popular: mountain bikers of all abilities can show up in Cumberland and have a fantastic time!
But just because you'll find a higher proportion of intermediate trails here doesn't mean that Cumberland is bereft of gnar. The "Gravity Zone" is home to a slew of challenging double black diamond runs featuring rugged fall line trails filled with all manner of roots, rocks, and steeps. A few of the gnarlier trails have been included in this guidebook, but be sure to search on FATMAP for a full roundup of Cumberland's chunky lines. Similarly, there's also a dedicated guidebook published that documents the flowier side of the trail system.
In this guidebook, you'll find 6 of the best mountain bike rides in Cumberland Forest that are designed to give you an overview of the trail system. Again, this isn't a comprehensive outline of all ride possibilities, but these 6 rides cover the gamut from easy to advanced and from enduro-friendly to pedal-oriented. Be sure to follow these route combinations to learn how to best link the trails here together, but once you get a sense of the area, you can begin to mix and match your favorites to create your own custom routes.
The only limit in Cumberland is your imagination!