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Hawkair Blog


Terrace Trails: Mountain-biking in Northern BC

“It’s hard to describe how special these trails are. To mountain-bike old-timers the hardest Copper trails are like the old steepest Vancouver trails but with soft pine-needled duff carpeting the fall-line.”

With sun in the forecast and with the support of Northern BC Tourism we booked a ight on Hawkair and headed from Vancouver to Terrace on a short flight for a long weekend. Terrace is a Northern BC town of approximately 20,000 people. Known by outdoor recreationalists for its fishing and Shames Mountain – a small ski area with incredible backcountry terrain run as a co-op. What most people don’t know is that Terrace has some pretty great mountain biking trails!

When we first visited Northern BC and wrote about it for Hawkair (Spring of 2008) Terrace only had a limited number of trails on Terrace Mountain and a bunch of older (but beautifully maintained) legacy trails in Copper Mountain. Since then the Terrace Off Road Cycling Association (TORCA) has been busy! The Terrace Mountain trails are pedal accessed and have been expanded under TORCA’s efforts with aid from the provincial government and the City of Terrace which has supplied funding for paid trailbuilding to augment volunteer efforts. TORCA is also making efforts to inventory trails in the Copper Mountain area which will open the door to more funding and more help from local and provincial government to further expand trails.

Truly a success story in governments working with private volunteer mountain biking groups to make things happen. Personally we think of it as the way Northerners work together for the better of all.

The Trails

wheelThis part of B.C. has a history of logging and mining. These industries have created access to vast areas where trails have popped up. These industries have also semi-retired resource sector veterans that find the time to work on trails. Grants have also become available to economically stimulate these towns by creating trails and other tourism opportunities which fund jobs. It means that skilled locals get to help build these wonderful community amenities.

Maroon Mountain

Our first ride took us to the Maroon Mountain trails- a popular trail that accesses alpine and also purportedly has great views of the Wesach group and Kalum Lake. There is an excellent trail into the alpine shared by hikers and bikers in the form of mostly hike to the sub-alpine interspersed with the odd pedalling section. We pushed/rode up 1000m in 6.4km, then we rode down smooth buff fast trails with the odd bit of chunk!

The alpine reward is a long traverse around Maroon Mountain with continuously stunning views to a small lake which is cold but is worth the swim on a hot day.

Steinhoe and Terrace Mountain

biking2blogThe next day we checked out the new Steinhoe Ridge trail. That trail’s construction started in 2011 with funding from various groups such as the City of Terrace’s Community Forest Fund and was sped up in a big way by a $120,000 grant from a Province of BC job creation program. Most of the trailwork was finished by hand. Trailwork is now supported by many parties including a local provincial government champion, Carl Johansen of the Ministry of Forests which has allowed TORCA to hire with paid trail builders and a mini-excavator machine.

TORCA hopes to have the Steinhoe trail finished this year. The list of builders and supporters is a who’s who of the local bike community; Tony Moore and Dave Stewart (both 20 year builders, Kim Hayworth, Shane Spencer and Ted Mccreary; among other notables). This 7.2km trail climbs 306m and descends 242m from Springcreek Ave to Kitselas Rd adding an accessible number of loops to trails close to Terrace and joining other trail systems that were formerly stand-alone. This includes the Terrace Mountain trails and the 7.5km Flathead loop; the go-to quickie ride from town which  we rode last time around.

Copper Mountain

coppermountblogIn the subdivision of Thornhill is a small area called Copper Mountain. There are 18 named trails; plenty of gnar to whet the whistler. Dedicated maintainers include Richard Blanes, Wade Muchowski and others. The builders and riders have been active here for over 20 years; the trails are STEEP and since there aren’t a lot of people who ride Copper Mountain they’re in
great shape!

It’s hard to describe how special these trails are. To mountain-bike old-timers the hardest Copper trails are like the old steepest Vancouver trails but with soft pineneedled duff carpeting the fall-line. Bombholes are pretty much non-existent (you need crowds to cause bombholes). The trails have rooty technical attributes so that keeps all but the kamikaze suicidal off the steepest
when its wet and with lots of snow in town the entire system is shut down for half the year thus relieving even more erosion concerns.

We rode Copper twice both times as odd-man out shuttles. A vehicle that is capable of decent off-road performance is a nice-to-have since the access road is pretty loose and steep.

Getting Here

Hawkair has regular ights to Smithers and Terrace. From Vancouver you will be in these wonderful places in Northern BC in a little over two hours door to door. One nice thing about this flight is going over the Coast Mountains (including the spectacular Waddington range and the Monarch Iceelds) which are beautiful and spectacularly glaciated.

Hawkair’s crew was very gentle with our bikes which arrived safe and sound, ready to ride (after some minor assembly). There’ll be a lot going on in the corridor’s trails this year; from Terrace, Smithers, Burns Lake and more. Be prepared to explore fantastic uncrowded singletrack with some of the countries’  friendliest people!

Photography and Article by Lee Lau