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Even by BC standards, Cumberland Forest is a vast, intricate, and dense trail network.
Strands of singletrack run in every direction imaginable, and at some junctions, you'll find yourself choosing from 5 or 6different paths to take.
In a network this varied and overwhelming, choosing which trails to do is the greatest challenge.
On this loop, you'll hit what some people consider to be the top 5 trails in Cumberland in just one 11-mile ride.
The ride begins by following the classic climbing route up the dirt road and then up Sobo No Michi.
Sobo No Michi is a purpose-built ascending trail that's been constructed with a series of constant switchbacks and grade reversals to make for an eminently climbable singletrack descent.
The concession to build numerous switchbacks is much-appreciated because the upper section of the mountain here in Cumberland is quite steep. Once at the top of the climb, you'll drop down the road a few meters to pick up Upper Thirsty Beaver.
Upper Thirsty Beaver followed by Lower Thirsty Beaver are two of the most difficult trails on this ride, graded as a single black diamond.
By BC standards, these are quite easy single blacks, but you'll still be faced with some steep descents, slick roots, optional drops, jumps, and best of all: a beautiful set of lengthy wooden bridges. The woodwork is by far the highlight on the Thirsty Beavers! Upper Thirsty Beaver especially features long, winding bridges that run above swampland and, in one spot, even a flowing stream.
These gorgeous bridges running through a deep forest are an absolute pleasure to ride and are extensive even by BC standards. After dropping out of Lower Thirsty Beaver, you'll pedal up the road and then climb a well-built section of the Vanilla Climb Trail to sample Upper Vanilla on the way down.
Upper Vanilla features some roots and small drops, but it's quite fast and flowy overall. While Lower Vanilla continues on down the mountainside, remember that this is a sampler platter: you're tasting 5 of the top trails, not doing 5 top-to-bottom runs.
So it's time to pedal back up the hill to reach Blue Collar. Blue Collar is a flowy, jumpy downhill romp that retains an old-school feel with stump drops, some woodwork, and a few rocks to keep you honest.
Blue Collar is a perennial favorite in Cumberland Forest, and you're almost guaranteed to see other riders on this trail. After Blue Collar, you'll drop into the Crafty Butchers: Upper, Middle, and Lower.
The flowy intermediate trail character is retained, but these trails are a bit chunkier and feature some beautiful woodwork and extended bridge sections. Finally, the ride wraps up with an absolute gem to finish: Bonestorm.
The iconic standout feature on Bonestorm is an aesthetic rock roll.
You'll begin the feature by riding along an elevated fin of rock and then rolling down the backside to a wooden bridge run out into a flowy section of singletrack.
By Squamish standards, this rock roll is a baby feature, but the aesthetic, exposed run-in on the ridge intimidates many riders.
It can easily be bypassed to the left if you don't feel like riding it. While this ride does get a "Severe" FATMAP rating on our global scale, accomplished intermediate BC riders should feel right at home on this ride.
The Thirsty Beavers might have a few tricky spots, but again by British Columbia standards, they're relatively tame.
The one rock roll on Bonestorm is intimidating, but it can easily be bypassed.
But of course, to riders unfamiliar with the level of trails in British Columbia, some of these features could be very intimidating.
It's all a matter of perspective!