Tykes on Bikes – Two-Wheeled Trail Treks
Whether your family is interested in serious, technical mountain biking or you prefer a calm, paved cruise, this valley has something for all levels. The biking options below offer a sampling of rides, with a route suited to everyone’s ability. Once your youngsters have mastered these, you’ll be ready to tackle the many trails available to test skills and bring thrills to the whole family.
The Junior Johnson Trail at Lake Lillian
What to expect: This family-friendly, 2.5 km single and double-track trail provides new or young mountain bikers an opportunity to experience the joys of mountain biking without any major scare factor. The gentle trail requires riders to focus on their riding, but is forgiving in its inclines and declines. The trail is marked and easy to follow, though maps are available through the Columbia Valley Cycling Society or from local bike shops. The Jr. Johnson is a loop which takes casual riders 20 – 40 minutes and can be ridden with a tag-along bike trailer.
How to get there: Lake Lillian is en route to Panorama. From Valley Central, travel west towards Invermere. Turn right onto Panorama Dr and follow this road for 6.7 km. Lake Lillian and the parking for the Junior Johnson are at right. The trailhead is on the opposite side of the road.
Panorama’s Paved Valley Trail Loop
What to expect: With no official start point, this popular paved trail can be picked up anywhere along its loop. If unfamiliar with the area, ask one of the resort employees to point you in the right direction. This scenic 5.5 km loop winds its way along the bottom of the ski hill, along the fringes of the Greywolf Golf Course, then meanders along Toby Creek and finally through the village. Resting spots with picnic tables and benches are scattered along the trail and make a great location to catch your breath and take in the alpine views. Being paved makes it friendly for new riders, tag-along bike trailers and strollers. First trip up to Panorama? A bike ride along this path will give you a good overview of the village and surrounding area.
How to get there: From Valley Central, drive west towards Invermere, turning right onto Panorama Dr. Follow the road 18 km as it crosses Toby Creek and heads up to Panorama Mountain Resort.
Panorama’s Toby Trail Loop and Hale Hut
What to expect: This trail is great for families wanting a relatively easy mountain bike adventure. The trail is wide and friendly with numerous gentle ascents and descents, making for a fun ride but not an extreme one. Children still getting to know their gears will most likely need to walk some of the longer ascents. The Hale Hut is a perfect place for tired legs to catch a break. The Toby Trail Loop is about 7 km round-trip, but like so many others, turning it into a shorter out and back is always an option.
How to get there: From Valley Central, drive west towards Invermere, turning right onto Panorama Dr. Follow the road 18 km as it crosses Toby Creek and heads up to Panorama Mountain Resort. There are two options for starting. Families can travel along Greywolf Drive past the Golf Course Clubhouse where the trail can be started just after the bridge, or on the Valley Trail which meets up with the Toby Trail at that same bridge.
The Old Coach Trail Greenway
between Dry Gulch and Radium
What to expect: This 9 km trail was the original highway and often still referred to as the Old Coach Road. Restored for both hiking and biking, the trail has become a popular area and is suitable for all ages. As the double trail winds along the benchlands, single-track trails veer off to the valley ridge and provide breathtaking views of the wetlands below. Most of the trails that veer off towards the upper wetlands are manageable for children; a few single tracks to the east of the main trail are quite challenging. This route can be ridden out-and-back; or if you can get organized to leave a car at the opposite end, it’s a great destination ride. An ice cream or restaurant stop in Radium can be a motivating destination!
How to get there: To begin biking from Dry Gulch, drive 7.2 km north from Valley Central. Turn left and then immediately turn left again. This road will lead to the parking area.
To begin from the town of Radium, turn onto Main St West. Follow that south until you come to the end of the road and intersecting Edelweiss St. The north end of the trail starts there. If that area is congested, another option is to park at the Visitor Information Centre and begin there.
Radium Pump Track
by the Sinclair Creek Greenway Trail in Radium
What to expect: Created and maintained by the Village of Radium Hot Springs, this track is a biker’s playground! Kids and big kids (yes, the parents) will have a blast cruising around various bumps, dips and groovy tracks. Even young bikers can handle many sections and will be motivated to try more! Kudos to the town of Radium Hot Springs for being one of the first local communities to build a pump track. With an ‘if you built it, they will come’ philosophy, Radium built it!
How to get there: From Valley Central, drive north to Radium. From the 4-way stop in Radium, turn left on Foresters Landing Rd. If biking, look for signage on this road and a bike trail that veers to the right and takes you to the pump track. If driving, take your first right onto Horsethief Forest Service Rd and follow to the pump track.
Invermere Pump Track
What to expect: The entertaining Invermere Pump Track was new in 2014. Located adjacent to the popular Mount Nelson Athletic and Skate Park, this pump track provides an additional opportunity to play on your bike. All ages enjoy the topsy-turvy inclines and declines of the pump track. Training wheels are a bit tricky on the track, but children as young as two seem to have no problem zipping around on balance bikes.
How to get there: From Valley Central, travel west into Invermere. Once in Invermere, travel through Main St (7th Ave) to the CIBC on 13th St. Turn right and climb the hill to the T-intersection. J.A. Laird School is directly ahead; the Invermere Pump Track and Mount Nelson Athletic and Skate Park (below) are adjacent to the school on the west side.
Mount Nelson Athletic, Bike and Skate Park
What to expect: Whether you and your kids are ready to rip it up on bikes or skateboards, or prefer to take in the excitement from the sidelines, a visit to this bike and skate park is always entertaining. Several adjoining soccer fields provide ample space to run wild, toss a ball or play Frisbee. If the kids need a break from all the activities, picnic tables abound for snack time.
How to get there: See directions to Pump Track.
Nipika Mountain Resort
What to expect: Well-maintained trails, stunning views of the Rocky Mountains, and crystal clear waters of the Kootenay and Cross Rivers await riders at Nipika Mountain Resort. The Resort maintains 100 km of trails for biking, hiking and wintertime cross-country skiing. The Cross River Canyon North and South Trail systems are maintained for mountain biking by Nipika Mountain Resort. Children can bike to the impressive Natural Bridge and Cross River Canyon Falls. Pack a lunch and make a day of mountain biking and exploring the wonders of the area. There is a donation box located at the day lodge, which helps to maintain and expand the trail systems. Maps for these trails are available online at www.nipika.com or at the day lodge.
How to get there: Leaving Invermere, drive north to Radium. At the 4-way stop, head east into Kootenay National Park. Continue through the Park on Highway 93 for 32 km. Turn right onto Settler’s Rd and follow for 14 km. You will cross the lively Kootenay River and soon after will see the day-use parking sign on the left.
The Spirit Trail at Columbia Lake
What to expect: This historical trail leads riders through the meadows and Douglas Fir forests bordering the east side of Columbia Lake*. The trail extends the entire distance of the lake from Fairmont Hot Springs to Canal Flats, making it a total distance of almost 20km. Most users (especially families) choose a much shorter out-and-back ride. For adventurous and more confident riders, multiple single-track trails veer off the main trail. The lake is accessible from various points along the way and makes for a great lunch or snack spot.
*In 2012, the northern Spirit Trail area was purchased by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. As of time of writing the area allows hiking and biking, however any change in allowable activities should be respected.
How to get there: From Valley Central, drive south to Fairmont Hot Springs. Turn left onto Fairmont Creek Rd. Take your first right onto Columbia River Rd and continue until the road ends. Signs indicating that motorized vehicles are not allowed past that point let you know it’s time to shut off the engine and hop on your bikes!
If you wish to approach the trail from the south side, turn into Canal Flats on Burns Ave. Follow through town to the T-intersection that is Grainger Rd. Turn left and follow until the end of the road at Canal Flats Provincial Park. Though this southern section of the trail is not on Native reserve land, it is traditional Native land and as such should be respected.
The Wasa Lions Way Trail
What to expect: The Wasa Lions Way Trail is an 8km paved path that loops Wasa Lake. This loop begins as a scenic ride through the lovely provincial park and continues around the glimmering lake. With almost no elevation change, it is great for families with young bikers and tag-along strollers.
How to get there: Drive south on Highway 93/95 to the community of Wasa (98km). Turn left onto Wasa Lake Dr. From here, you can park at the first day use parking area. The trail can be picked up here, within the park’s boundaries, to the left of the parking area.
Looking for more mountain biking options?
For more of the best age-appropriate local mountain biking, visit either local bike shop below or contact the Columbia Valley Cycling Society.
1. Bicycle Works
1005 7th Ave., Invermere
2. Columbia Cycle and Sports
#375 Laurier St., Athalmer