Words & Photos by Sam Egan
Although Sun Peaks was an early player to the Bike Park and DH race game back in the late 1990’s, like so many smaller communities it can still be tough to make the most of a weekend of riding without some local knowledge. Consider this a blueprint to maximize riding time, for the ultimate Bike Park weekend.
Depending on where you’re hailing from you may need to call in a favour to get out of work a bit early Friday afternoon, if you can make it to the bottom of the chairlift by 6:45pm you’ve got lift access to mid-mountain at your disposal. Sneak in some evening DH laps or explore the alpine of Mt. Tod on the Altitude XC route.
Back at the base of the mountain there’s plenty of options to refuel yourself; Bottoms Bar & Grill offers the whole package of good food, drinks and atmosphere right at the “bottom” of the lift, and Mountain High Pizza makes a mean pie if you’re after something quicker.
Next, you’ll need somewhere to hang your helmet for the night; the resort has plenty of hotels and vacation homes including the flagship Sun Peaks Grand, which houses bike storage and the local bike and repair shop. What you won’t find so easily are the camping options nearby at Heffley Lake, McGillivray Lake, Little McGillivray Lake, Morrisey Lake, and the resort’s camping and RV lot.
Come morning, visit Bollaco Café for literally world-famous espresso, fresh baking and a special chai tea latte that will ruin you for anything else for life. Or visit Vertical Café next door if you’re in need of some proper nutrition to accompany your caffeine injection, or need to pack some energy along for the day on the mountain.
Elevation Bike, Ski & Board is just a stone’s throw away if you need rentals or anything for your own rig. The shop guys will give you some good trail suggestions and the Bike Park trail map also includes suggested top-to-bottom routes for different ability levels and riding styles. Jump on the lift and shred your head off until you get too hot, and too hungry to go on.
Nine hours of chairlift time per day means you can sit out the hottest part of the afternoon on the mid-mountain Sunburst Lodge, or head 15 minutes down the hill to the Heffley Lake boat launch for a swim or paddle.
When the sun gets lower in the sky and the heat relents, make the short drive back to the lifts to hammer out any must-hit DH trails you’ve missed thus far. Sugar into Sweet One is a classic old school style combo for any lift-worthy bike, or try the 2016 Canadian DH Championships route and hold on for dear life until the sun goes down.
After breakfast and coffee on Sunday morning, visit the Sun Peaks Farmers Market to pick up some local snacks to bring along on your ride. Make sure you stock up as you’ll want plenty of fuel for the Sun Peaks Epic! “Epic” is a bit of an overstatement but you can indeed bag three peaks in a day if you’re up for it, you can bail out plenty of times along the way if you’re over your head or just tackle one of the three right out of the gate. Elevation has a range of drool-worthy XC and Enduro rentals if you’re packing solely DH heat.
Stage one of said epic will take you from the top of the Sunburst chairlift across Vista to Altitude, out to Tod Lake and back. The trail is advanced intermediate single track with plenty of technical rock gardens, roots and punchy climbs, all fairly low angle with expansive views and dense wildflowers if your timing’s right.
Riding back towards the top of the Sunburst chairlift from Altitude head out towards Big Rock Ride, a less technical intermediate cross country trail that will take you through the woods and past the resort’s snowmaking reservoir to the top of Sundance and your second peak. The first bit of this trail is the toughest before it branches off Sugar, with some nice undulating single track extending all the way to your next destination.
Watch out for cow patties and knocked over trail signage in the obvious spots along the way. Once the single track gives way to double track, keep your eyes peeled for the unmarked road to your right, more or less at the crest of the hill, that leads to the top of the Sundance chairlift where you can see both where you’ve come from and where you’re going.
After scarfing down whatever you found at the market and taking in the view, head back down the trail and hang a right on the main trail to continue down an old access road. Watch for signage on your right to take you across the face of Sundance and back into the lower reaches of the Bike Park where you can pick your poison to the bottom.
Heading across Sun Peaks road and through the covered bridge, pedal up the golf course cart path towards the tenth hole tee box and watch for the start of the double track Packhorse Climb on your right, which will take you all the way to the top of your third peak, Mt. Morrisey.
You’ve got some options for your final descent but the route of choice will take you around the southeast side of the mountain through some pretty wild high country terrain, denoted as the advanced recommended route here. Back in the village at the bike wash station the entire ride will have you clocking into Strava just shy of 50km, making for a pretty massive day in the saddle and a long drive home.