By Jann Eberharter | Photos by Skye Schillhammer
The mountain bike trails of the Sea to Sky corridor are world-famous for their quality, abundance and history. But more often than not, it’s the epic 5,000 vertical-foot runs at Whistler or the puckering skinnies and rock rolls on Vancouver’s North Shore that get the attention.
In between these two rightful meccas, however, is a little town named Squamish. Most people probably know it for the McDonald’s on Highway 99 or its world-renowned rock climbing. And if local mountain bikers had their say, they’d keep it that way. But the roughly 20,000-person town has become a mountain bike destination of its own in the past decade, offering an impressive number of trails at a caliber that rivals its notorious neighbors to the north and south.
Diamond Head (Quest University)
Perhaps the most popular network in Squamish, Diamond Head, is located right behind Quest University. An easy climbing trail makes this a great place to crush laps and earn your turns, although a dirt road does offer shuttle access to the top. The hardest part is finding a friend willing to skip a lap and drive you up. Half Nelson is easily the most famous trail in the vicinity. Endless flow and options for riders of all abilities make for a ridiculously fun ride. For a steeper, more technical descent, check out Angry Midget or Cakewalk. A mandatory stop on the way out (or on the way to the next ride) is the Locavore Food Truck, located near the junction of Mamquam Road and Highway 99.
A couple of kilometers from the main drag is the Valley Cliff network, a relatively small selection of cross-country trails with a few serious gems sprinkled in. If you’re looking to push your comfort level a bit, Labour of Love offers some quintessential Squamish terrain with rock slabs, wooden features and plenty of tech — proceed with caution. The trail actually originated as an uphill trials motorcycle route and certainly still holds some resembling characteristics. Meet Yer Maker is another popular ride in the network, offering more flow and less potential for walking than Labour of Love. Don’t let the blue square designation fool you though, there are still a couple of exhilarating rock rolls.
A short skip north from Diamond Head is the Alice Lake network, which offers an equally impressive array of trails. One of the longer descents in the area is Credit Line, a Squamish classic that offers smooth riding with the perfect amount of challenge to keep you on your toes. Rupert, on the other hand, offers technical steeps, rock slabs, interesting woodwork and flowy turns — this is what Squamish is all about. For the ride-arounds and less extreme options on Rupert, just follow the rubber chickens. It’s good to know the area’s trail builders have a great sense of humor.
Hit up the Zephyr Café on Cleveland Avenue for a quality cup of coffee and a delicious menu that can satisfy any diet and pre-ride craving.
Howe Sound Brewing has a constantly rotating tap selection, food that can breathe life into any exhausted biker and live music on the weekends.
Originally from Boise, Idaho, Jann Eberharter came to the northwest to pursue a degree in visual journalism at Western Washington University and stayed for the loamy trails.