Bike trips to Canada usually follow a fairly similar route: fly into Vancouver, taxi to Whistler, and embark on three weeks of party laps at Whistler bike park. Now while we’ve got nothing against railing the world-class A-line and Dirt Merchant trails, there’s so much more in this vast land that’s worth riding. We headed to British Columbia’s eastern region to get better acquainted with three amazing places.

Whistler isn’t the only place with amazing trails. Here’s the lowdown on three lesser-known spots.

The background – listen to locals, not travel guides

How do you plan riding trips? TripAdvisor and other travel platforms might be the obvious first port-of-call, but you ultimately end up with the same tips as every other tourist. For our trip, we had a different approach from the start, which is why we’re beginning with ‘the background’. We – my girlfriend Antonia and I – had got to know a Canadian, Tucker Braund, while at an enduro race in our hometown of Aschau. Tucker was left disappointed with the official race stages, so we took him out on the following day to ride the far better, hidden trails in this idyllic patch of Bavaria. The day ended with dinner in a beer garden and sparked a year’s worth of social media contact. When Canada later became our summer holiday plan, we began by shooting a message to Tucker. From there, the planning was easy: first stop, Panorama Bike Park in Invermere where he works as a guide. Instead of the standard Sea-to-Sky highway route towards Whistler, we’d leave Vancouver and go north-eastwards.

Online platforms lead tourists en mass to not-so-secret destinations – Our plans looked different

Tucker knows Invermere and the Panorama Resort’s best trails.

Golden – a sleepy town with a bike park and one legendary race

One of the first stops on the way to Invermere was the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, which is just above the quiet town of Golden. On the way there you pass Matt Hunter’s stomping group of Kamloops as well as Revelstoke – two must-visit towns that we’ve visited previously. The Kicking Horse Mountain Resort boasts the second-longest descent with gondola access in British Columbia, second only to Whistler. The trails are rougher and rockier here – a lot less manicured you could say. The top end of the park is pure Alpine terrain, while further down you’ve got two long rock rollers as well as the brilliant Devil’s Disco trail. This tight, techy and super loamy trail immediately became our favourite.

Take the gondola up to Kicking Horse Bike Park’s alpine territory before dropping into its techy trails back down.
What a view!
Rocky and rough up top …
… but more and more flow creeps in as you drop down.
Like any decent ski town, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort has a lot to offer in summer too.

Don’t hesitate – the T4 trail is techy and exposed up top.

If you ask any local rider, the T4 trail is the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort’s raison-d’etre . But make sure you know what’s ahead of you before setting off – the gondola takes you up to 2,447 metres above sea level, you head left, and push your bike for around 20 minutes up to a ridge. From here, there’s an alpine-esque trail that weaves down to the valley. Steep and rocky at first, it dishes up more and more flow as you descend. By the time you reach the bottom, after many sharp counter-climbs that do their best to sap your energy, you end up – much like us – pretty knackered and thankful that it ends at a petrol station. Coca-Cola and sweets, as desired #foodporn. There’s a choice of mellow trails to pedal back to the town, or, when you’re as empty as us, put your thumb out and look hopeful.

Expect some work before you get to enjoy T4.
The first bit is rideable, but then it gets steep.
From the ridge you’ve got stunning views of the Columbia River valley and right across to the Rocky Mountains.
A rocky, technical ridgeline down to the valley. As you drop down it changes, builds in flow, and lives up to the hype!

Mount7 lies across from Golden. There’s a pristine gravel access road leading up the mountain, which – as is typical for Canada – is accessible by car and can therefore be used for shuttling. Alternatively there’s an infinitely snaking climbing trail. It’s not just popular with mountain bikers either; expect kite-flyers and paragliders too. The legendary annual Mt Seven Psychosis race ran for ten consecutive years before ending in 2008, but the many waymarked trails remain. The most notorious goes by the name Dead Dog – mega loose, mega steep, and commanding respect. If any doubts enter your head before you drop into it, we suggest turning around straight away. It gets progressively steeper and crescendos with the final righthander, home to countless over-the-bars moments. But don’t let this put you off; Mount7 has a legion of other, mellow, and no-less-fun trails. Our favourite combo was the Summit, into the 10k, then Erichs to 5k before ending on True Valley. Take a look on Trail Forks to see how this maps out.

Life-saving petrol station – Had it not been for the coca-cola, things would have ended here after a long day on the pedals.

Top tips for Golden and Kicking Horse Mountain

  • Half-day in the bike park and head to the T4 around 2 pm.
  • Double Black Café is the go-to for coffee and breakfast at Kicking Horse
  • Hitching to the Resort from Golden is easy.
  • If you’re not staying at the resort, hang out at the Bluebird Café in Golden
  • For great beer, live gigs and a tasty food truck go to the Whitetooth Brewing Company
  • Dine out at Wolf Den – delicious, meaty grub with a cute terrace

For more information on Golden visit and check directly with Kicking Horse Resort to see current offers.

Invermere and Panorama – a bike park with no end of opportunities

Panorama Bike Park is a known entity for many racers after having played host to the Canadian National Downhill Championships as well as number of enduro races. Hell’s Bell is a well-built jump line with big jumps, but there’s also top-rate enduro trails like Moose Powder and Lookout. But Panorama’s real draw comes well above the tree-line on mountain trails that you can access straight from the park. Unfortunately the upper chairlift wasn’t running throughout 2019, but it’s expected to launch back into action for 2020 and save us bikers from grinding up 600 vertical metres on a steep gravel track. From the plateau there’s an amazing view and the sense of being so far removed from the rest of the world. We planned on riding the G.L.D trail and then dropping smoothly into Hopeful. With incoming storm clouds and fear of local grizzly bears, we put the foot on the gas and tore down the first stage of the BC Enduro race. Flowy but far from easy, this sweeps you along with a lot of variety–from massive rocks and burnt-out forests to the final section alongside a stream back to the Bike Park. It tops off with a run over the Hell’s Bells jump line – banging.

Panorama Resort lives up to its name even when eating an ice cream.
Your standard North American hotel and apartment complex set in a far-from-standard landscape.
The lift takes you to the start of the trails.
Our favourite trail: Moose Powder!
We love this sort of powder!
Is this enduro heaven? Roots and loam, does it get any better than this?
But the day’s real highpoint would come later on – this shuttle was our means of bypassing that unwanted 600 metres of extra climbing.
Sitting comfy on the way up to the plateau with Tucker and his mate Kale …
… given the approaching storm the plan to get further up the ridge was culled and we made tracks straight to Hopeful.
Pornorama – Hopeful gives you a whole new perspective. Try it sometime.
Can’t escape counter-climbs in Canada!
With a trail of dust flung up behind each wheel and the sun setting in the distance we headed down.

Hopeful has landed in our worldwide top 5 trails – a real find!

Much like Golden, Invermere also has another mountain across town, Mount Swansea, with the choice of a driveable gravel track or uphill trail. Those opting for self-shuttling should invest in a 4×4 as the gradient on Mount Swansea really ramps up. Southpark is the downhill trail that we’ve been head on this day, which is a first-class flow trail with so many high-speed pumps, rollers and berms that’ll plaster a grin on the faces of riders of all abilities when you’ve got over the dizziness from the turns. Invermere itself is a small, sleepy town on the banks of Lake Windermere – chill out there or go on towards Lillian Lake.

Pick-ups serve a very good purpose in Canada – armed with two vehicles, there’s a lot of scope for shuttling outside of the bike parks.
Or pedal up on one of the many trails.
However you get to the top of Mt Swansea, the view over Invermere and Lake Windermere is worth it.
The South Park trail fills you up on pristine berms and rollers.
Rocky sections are definitely present though, so stay alert especially towards the lower part of the trail.
Let’s call it a day!

Top tips for Invermere and the Panorama Resort

  • DIY shuttling on Mt. Swansea needs a 4×4.
  • Lillian Lake is the ultimate post-ride wind-down spot.
  • Peppi’s Pizza in Invermere serves great Italian food.
  • Tasty breakfast sandwiches can be found at Kicking Horse Cafe.
  • Fuze Cafe is the healthy alternative to Kicking Horse Cafe.
  • Panorama Resort’s finest food is served at the Earl Grey Lodge.
  • Panorama Bike Park is great but the high alpine trails outside of its confines are even better – plan your time wisely.

For more information on Invermere and Panorama, head to Panorama Resort.

Nakusp – a small bit of trail paradise in the middle of nowhere

Seeing as the nearest traffic lights must be at least 100 km away in each direction, we definitely wouldn’t go as far as calling Nakusp a hotspot. But after a reader called Daniel alerted us to its presence (thank you once again!), we decided to take him up on the invitation. On the way we took a deliberate detour to Kootenay Bay to take the world’s longest free ferry to Balfour. From there, we stopped in the small hippy town of Kaslo. It’s definitely worth taking a moment to soak up the relaxed vibe here. We then passed Retallack Lodge–another riding spot that comes highly recommended. If you don’t fancy such a long-winded route, you can take a slightly faster route from Revelstoke – but ferries are unavoidable.

Reaching Nakusp is a highlight in itself. The ferry from Kootenay Bay to Balfour is the world’s longest free ferry.
Postcard-esque views in every direction. Did we mention that Canada is quite beautiful?
The heart of the local riding scene.
Shon’s Bike-Shop is the first port-of-call for repairs and tips.
Calling Nakusp a sleepy town is a bit of an understatement. On the edge of Arrow Lakes, there’s barely any traffic here and the clocks appear to tick a little slower.
Small Toyota, big bike racks! Shuttling is clearly the thing to do in Canada. On of Nakusp’s trail parks is called Box and it has a few short but wildly diverse trails.

Short and sharp trails around Nakusp, and enough to keep you on your toes. The laid-back vibe is reason to be here.

Nakusp is the epitome of a sleepy town. It has one main street with a handful of cafes and restaurants. Barely any traffic passes through the town, and tourists are something of a rarity. The local riding scene, however, is more thriving and centres around Shon’s Bike Shop, which is run by Shon. The scene congregates on Mt Abriel’s trails, which have all been purposefully designed to be accessible to all. Uncompromising enduro pros might be a bit underwhelmed, but it ticks all the boxes for families. After short climbs you get short, mellow descents, and there’s a jump trail and one longer descent currently in construction. In Nakusp there are two ‘adaptive’ trails that open up mountain biking to wheelchair users too. Those looking for a long, technical descent, it’s worth travelling 45 minutes outside of Nakusp to the Butter trail. With loose loamy ground and dusty turns, it’s pretty special. To kick back in Nakusp we suggest heading to the lake or the official hot springs, which you’ll find dotted over BC. Nakusp has one official hot spring, but many are still completely natural, although these are harder to reach.

Better together! Family-friendly trails on Mt. Abriel that cater to all abilities.
Canada gave us a rare mellow climb for once …
… but it was far from boring on the way down.
Come to Nakusp for some peace and quiet.
Above the Butter trail you’ll find the wheelchair-accessible Spine trail, specially built for a purpose …
… with enough width to make sure that everyone gets a taste of the flow.
Spine trail runs into Butter, which is steeper and tougher.
Canada is well suited to trail and enduro bikes with 150–170 mm travel. Our choices of the Juliana Roubion and Santa Cruz Megatower proved tip-top.
Post-ride wind-down? Hot Springs in Nakusp fit the bill.

Top tips for Nakusp

  • Shon’s Bike Shop is the address for trail tips.
  • Shon und Jani also run a great hostel for overnight stays.
  • Save time for the hot springs.
  • Nakusp has a distinctive vibe, head into the town and soak it up.
  • Stop at Kaslo on route.

To find out more about Nakusp and its Adaptive Biking Project head to for more information. For details on the trails and current goings-on in the bike scene, go to Nakusp-Bike-Society.

Golden, Invermere and Nakusp are just a small fraction of what BC has going on. Virtually every spot in the region has a bike community and an official trail network; on Trailforks you’ll find the full menu for each place, but it’s only through locals that you’ll know which ones are truly the best. Anyone considering a trip to Canada should try and maximise the time spent there and aim to stop at some more off-the-beaten-track locations too. Think beyond the classics and go off-grid (so to speak); it’s the best way to get to know a new place. While we’d never complain about Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton, North Vancouver or the Sunshine Coast, Canada is so big and amazing that there are hidden gems to discover for those with an adventurous spirit.

Top tips for travelling to Canada

  • It’s huge – schedule as much time as possible.
  • Ein Enduro Bike mit 150–170 mm Federweg ist in Kanada ideal – wir waren mit einem Juliana Roubion und einem Santa Cruz Megatower unterwegs.
  • Budget well because cheap and Canada are not usually associated with each other.
  • If you’re staying at least six weeks, it could be worth buying a caravan (seriously).
  • Talk to people! Canadians tend to be open and welcoming.
  • Canada is savage so make sure you are versed in dealing with bears and other wild animals (They do exist!)

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we would be stoked if you decide to support us with a monthly contribution. By becoming a supporter of ENDURO, you will help secure a sustainable future for high-quality mountain bike journalism. Click here to learn more.

Words & Photos: