Thompson Okanagan

photo credit: Kari Medig

Sagebrush, ponderosa pine, lakes and trails are bound together by a local love for gourmet food and wine.

My roots are in the Thompson Okanagan and it may be the most diverse region I’ve ever ridden my mountain bike! From world-class bike parks and deep lush forest single-track epics to open high-speed desert ripping, the region has everything to satisfy the most voracious mountain biker’s appetite. I hope to one day re-locate to this region and spend my days exploring this vast network!

Wade Simmons

Professional Freeride Mountain Biker

The Thompson Okanagan region is in the fertile southern interior of British Columbia. It’s famous for its orchards, vineyards, grasslands and deserts.

The history and culture of the Thompson Okanagan region is strongly tied to the land, known for its nutrient-rich growing soil. Rolling mountain terrain meets cool, freshwater lakes in the valleys and offers the ultimate respite on a warm day. The seemingly infinite trails here are celebrated for being fast and fun.

Kamloops (a.k.a. “The Loops”) is recognized as the epicentre of freeride mountain biking in Canada and boasts a list of homegrown athletes that have made it to the world stage. The Shuswap area offers more than 400 km of trail for every type of rider, many of which connect the communities around Shuswap Lake. Vernon has everything from steep, technical descents to family-friendly rides in grassy meadows. Kelowna is the major centre for the Okanagan and home to a diverse mix of riding, from fast singletrack to wide open rail trails. Penticton is the southern cousin sandwiched between two lakes and surrounded by hills filled with sweet flowing ribbons of earth.

The region also boasts two of North America’s top lift-access bike parks. Sun Peaks, just north of Kamloops, hosts national and international mountain biking events and features a new high alpine trail that flaunts a phenomenal view. Silver Star, near Vernon, has quickly become a sought-after destination, known for its uncompromising trail crew that has set the standard for fun and flow.

Kamloops

Some of the best mountain biking in BC awaits you in Kamloops, at Sun Peaks Resort, and the Kamloops Bike Ranch. There is everything from classic singletrack to high-speed alpine downhill.

Number of Trails: 270
Total Kilometres: 477 km
Highest Elevation: 1,474 m

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Kelowna

In Kelowna, the Okanagan Valley’s largest city, you’ll find alpine, agriculture, and semi-arid landscape surrounding a lakeside city with an amazing foodie scene, wineries, and breweries.

Number of Trails: 272
Total Kilometres: 549 km
Highest Elevation: 2,168 m

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Merritt

Nestled in the Nicola Valley and known for it’s cowboy heritage and annual country music festival, Merritt is also biking country. With its rolling hills, mountain meadows and breath taking scenery, Merritt has multiple riding zones to explore.

Number of Trails: 101
Total Kilometres: 213 km
Highest Elevation: 1,695 m

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Penticton

The past few years has seen a local boom in trail and bridge upgrades, signage and extensive mapping, and guiding services. Go it on your own, or join a local for a personalized tour. 

Number of Trials: 235
Total Kilometres: 593 km
Highest Elevation: 2,198 m

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Shuswap

A traditional meeting place for the Secwepemc first peoples, Canada’s Shuswap region is where water and wilderness, people and mountain bikes come together.

Number of Trails: 317
Total Kilometres: 564 km
Highest Elevation: 1,679 m

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SilverStar Bike Park

SilverStar Bike Park is steeped in mountain bike history and some of the best trails you’ll find anywhere. Known for our extremely well maintained and built fast flowy trails.

Number of Trails: 58
Total Kilometres: 116 km
Highest Elevation: 1,889 m

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Sun Peaks Bike Park

The Sun Peaks Bike Park boasts a huge and diverse trail network ranging from technical DH and flowing machine-made freeride trails, to incredible and scenic alpine cross country. 

Number of Trails: 50
Total Kilometres: 63 km
Highest Elevation: 2,009 m

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Valemount

Valemount is surrounded by gorgeous snow-capped peak, making for a unique riding experience. Ride the shuttle-accessed bike park or the many trails around this small community.

Number of Trails: 141
Total Kilometres: 726 km
Highest Elevation: 2,641m

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Vernon

Vernon is emerging as a new mountain biking destination.  Located in the North Okanagan, Vernon shares the enviable lifestyle of other Okanagan communities –  beaches and peaches - but has the added benefit of having great hillsides and mountains right next to the city. 

Number of Trails: 304
Total Kilometres: 536 km
Highest Elevation: 1,889 m

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Inspirational Trips

Bikes and Beer in BC’s Interior

Dropping into Kamloops, sleet pelted the windshield as if the coastal rains were unwilling to let us go. We were on our way to meet Lisa Tedesco and her partner Marco van der Wilk, the winners of this year’s Bikes and Beer tour. It would be difficult to find a more deserving candidate: for the past 15 years, Lisa has been a dedicated member of the mountain bike community.

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Riding Penticton

Penticton’s mountain bike scene has always been healthy and vibrant, but like its residents, it has preferred to be more riding and building, with less talking and show. Despite this, word has spread about it’s 4 distinct and extensive trail networks. Each of these being unique to each other with different terrain styles, and ability levels. Conveniently all trail networks in Penticton are mere minutes riding time from the city centre. The headliner is the legendary Three Blind Mice trail network which has hosted the BC Enduro Series 3 out of the past 4 years. One year being a double-day with so many trails to sample.

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Sun Peaks Pedal Fest 2017

It happened almost like clockwork. The shadows grew long as the light softened, a cool breeze bloomed from between the trees, and we gathered at Sun Peaks Resort to celebrate the changing of the seasons during Peaks Pedal Fest this Labour Day Weekend.

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The Grandest Tour of Them All – Trans BC Enduro

Tales of loam infested trails, steep chutes, and rock slabs tantalized me from afar. Sure, we have great mountain biking where I come from; there are more miles of singletrack and bike parks in Colorado than you can shake a stick at. But there was still something missing in my repertoire of riding. Something that you can’t find in the lower 48— wild, raw, and bonafide singletrack that takes you from the highest peaks down to the clearest lakes. Linking up the best trails in four destinations would typically be a challenge for a newcomer to weave together a seamless itinerary in less than a week. But jumping on board the Trans BC Enduro stage race provided the framework for a grand tour of Interior BC.

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Thompson Okanagan on Trailforks.com

Off The Bike

Non-bike activities in the Thompson Okanagan region are as fruitful as the land itself:

  • Foodies flock to the area’s renowned orchards and vineyards
  • Families comb the sandy, lakeside beaches for picnic sites or sunbathing spots.
  • Leisurely outdoor activities draw many recreational golfers, hikers and skiers.

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