Mountain Biking in Kelowna, B.C
Kelowna, British Columbia is situated in the heart of the Okanagan Valley and it is no secret that it is home to some of the best mountain biking in the province. Being the largest city in British Columbia's interior, Kelowna has always been a popular mountain biking destination; featuring a diverse range of trail networks that continue to evolve year after year. With so many of the trail networks changing over the years, we thought it would be helpful to create a 2021 guide to mountain biking in Kelowna!
XC, All Mountain, DH
The Myra-Bellevue trails are the most extensive network in Kelowna, offering 112 trails over a total distance of 157kms. The primary type of riding is cross-country, although there are still a handful of fast-paced downhill trails such as Connector and Vapour. The great part about this area is that you can shuttle via the June Springs FSR or park at the bottom and ride up using the parking lot at the end of Stewart Road East.
Another benefit of the Crawford Trails is that it appeals to all levels of mountain bikers, whether you are new to biking or have been riding for twenty years. With 23 beginner runs, 62 intermediate runs, and 16 advanced runs, there is something for everyone at the Myra-Bellevue trails! Watch out for other trail users as this is a multi-use park that can get quite busy. This short video below showcases the trails Vapour, Connector, and Rocky Screech. For more information about Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park, click here. For the most recent trail updates on the network, click here.
XC, All Mountain, DH
The biking trails at Knox Mountain have been around for quite some time, but in recent years the City of Kelowna has been greatly improving the network. Since 2014 the City has established new downhill and cross-country trails, improved signage, and fixed up old trails that were in desperate need of repair. With all of the new work in recent years, and its easy access to downtown (approx. 3 minute drive), Knox Mountain has become one of the more popular trail networks in the region. Similarly to Myra-Bellevue, the Knox trails are more focused on cross-country riding, however there are still a few fast and flowy downhill trails.
With most of the trails at Knox being beginner and intermediate, it is a great place to bring your family or children to ride. The trails are fairly short, but with only 20 trails in the network, the variety can be quite limited. A benefit of Knox is that the snow often melts here first over all the other networks in the area. Depending on the snow levels in town, the Knox trails can be ridden in January and February while all of the other local trails are covered in snow. Watch the below video of Dylan Decker riding the Shale Trail, one of the main downhill trails at Knox.
The Gillard trails emerged in the mid to late 90's when freeride mountain biking was beginning to take off, and is now the most extensive network in Kelowna that focuses on intermediate and expert riding. With 40 of the 72 trails at Gillard being either black or double black, this is by far the largest trail system in Kelowna for advanced downhill riders. Located in the hills just south of Kelowna, these trails are accessed via shuttle up the Gillard Forest Service Road. The condition of the road is quite poor, and the road can be very busy at times, so watch your speed and for other road users. After years of being an illegal network, Gillard has just finally been adapted by Rec Sites and Trails BC, and is in the in the process of becoming fully regulated.
A Brief History
The Gillard trails really made a name for itself in the late 90's and early 2000's, especially after being featured in a number of mountain bike films. At the time, some of the stunts being built at Gillard were helping pioneer the freeride movement. Certain features like The Woodpecker, Carpet Muncher, Boss Hog Step Up, and Nato's Drop will be remembered as having a huge influence on the future generation of mountain bikers, and for freeride biking as a whole. Gillard quickly established a reputation as a must ride area for any mountain biker traveling through the Interior.
Just when things couldn't be getting better for the Gillard network, disaster struck. In the Summer of 2003, the Kelowna Mountain Park fire blazed through the area and damaged the majority of the network, burning the many iconic wooden features to the ground. After the fire some of the original builders had moved on from biking, so the future of the network was left in the hands of the next generation of riders. They worked hard and were able to rebuild the majority of the network, although some of the original trails never returned. Trails were cleared, features were rebuilt, and new trails were established. Even though the wooden features were never rebuilt to the same size and volume as before, it would seem that Gillard was back.
That was until 2007, when a massive windstorm tore through the area and decimated the network once again. The remaining burnt trees from the fire fell like toothpicks as mother nature left another devastating blow to Gillard. Again, the trails were cleared and the network was rebuilt. As the years went on, more and more features were being rebuilt, with a few starting to resemble the big iconic wooden features from the pre-fire days.
A complaint was made about some of the stunts, and with the Gillard trails being an illegal network, natural resource officers started investigating. After a few years of uncertainty around 2014 - 2016, and with the network potentially in jeopardy, discussions started taking place about securing legal status for the trails. The local trail organization in Kelowna, Mountain Bikers of the Central Okanagan (MTBco), decided to step up to the plate to help finally legalize the trails. Fast forward to 2021 and Gillard has now finally been adopted by "Rec Site and Trails BC" (RSTBC) as a trail network, with MTBco having secured a partnership agreement to manage the trails.
The Future of Gillard
Going into the 2021 season the Gillard trails are looking as good as ever. MTBco was able to get a bunch of work done in 2020 (starting a climb trail, making new reroutes, fixing features, installing new signage, erosion management, and much more) with plans to do even more in 2021! They are working to try and secure more funding for projects, host more trail dig days, and add on to all the work they accomplished in 2020. There is now finally proper parking for Gillard too, with Rec Sites and Trails BC having recently installed a dedicated parking lot at the 3km mark of the forestry road.
Since this network was illegal for such a long time, there is a lot of work that still has to be done to meet the standards of Rec Sites and Trails BC. All features have to be signed off on and each trail must meet the requirements of RSTBC. That is the main focus of MTBco for now. Once all the current trails meet the standards, then they can look to expand the Gillard network and create new trails/features. With Gillard finally now protected and properly maintained, mountain bikers can be happy knowing that this network will be around for many years to come. Take a look at a few of the videos below showing some of the different trails at Gillard!
4. Powers Creek
The Powers Creek trail network is located in West Kelowna and similarly to Gillard, is focused on more advanced riding. Although this is a relatively small network, the trails are fast, technical, and full of aging wooden features. Being an illegal network, the Powers Creek trails are not regulated, and rely on members of the mountain bike community to maintain them. You will find that a lot of the olden wooden features are rotting and in desperate need of repair. Some have fallen over completely and left to rot, while some have been fixed and are ride-able. Over the past few years there has been a number of people putting in work on the trails. A local carpenter has been spending time fixing up a lot of the wooden features, making many damaged features ride able again! Click here for the most recent trail reports on Powers Creek.
You can shuttle all trails at Powers Creek and access to the network is up Glenrosa Road driving towards the old Crystal Mountain Ski area. Just before the ski hill, turn right onto Jackpine Forest Service Road. There are multiple trailheads between the 1km and 4.5km mark along this road. All trails empty out at the top of Webber Road in the Glenrosa neighbourhood.
Take a look at the below video of Jeremy Weiss riding the Powers Creek trails. ** Powers Creek portion starts at 0:59**
XC, All Mountain
The Rose Valley/McDougall Rim trail system is located in Rose Valley Regional Park in West Kelowna, with a heavy focus on cross-country riding. There are 57 trails that cover a total distance of 71kms, offering something for everyone. With 14 green runs, 35 blue, 6 black, and 2 double black, the Rose Valley trails are a great place for family rides and for anyone looking to improve their riding and progress on more challenging trails. With that being said these trails are recommended to people who are in pretty good shape, as there are some fairly steep climbs and some sudden, steep drops.
Being in a Regional Park, the Rose Valley Trails are regulated and properly maintained, making it a great place to ride year over year. It is easy access and a popular spot to go for a family ride with children.
Keep in mind this is a multi-use park so there will be other trail users to watch out for. At the end of the day Rose Valley is a great riding area with easy access, great views, and fun singletrack! For the most recent updates on the Rose Valley trails, click here.
6. Smith Creek
XC, All Mountain, DH, Freeride
The Smith Creek biking trails have been growing in popularity over the years and is now a local favourite for many. New trails and lines have been popping up in recent years and with the hard work of the West Kelowna Trail Crew, they stay safe and well maintained. Now at 25 trails in the network there is pretty much something for everyone at Smith Creek. There is even a double black jump run which is a fun advanced trail for the progressive riders out there.
The Smith Creek trails can get quite busy so don't be surprised if the parking area is packed on the weekend. It is important to note that you cannot shuttle these trails. You have to either walk up or ride up along the designated climb trail. Once at the top you are rewarded with some sweet singletrack all the way to the bottom. Fast and flowy trails with many berms and jumps along the way is what makes this riding area so appealing.
From downtown West Kelowna, the Smith Creek trails can be accessed by turning North on Elliot Road and following it as it winds up the hillside. Continue along this road and then turn right at Smith Creek Road. From here you drive up to the gravel section and continue until you reach the small gravel parking area on the left. The trails start from here and you cross the road to get the main part of the network. Watch the below videos of the trails Santa's' Revenge and Feel the Love. Click here to keep up with the latest trail updates at Smith Creek.
The Postil trails have been around for a long time and in their prime were known for some of the best downhill/freeriding in the area. Unfortunately this riding area has been neglected over recent years and is in various stages of disrepair. The trail network was never big to begin with, but tended to focus on quality more than quantity. The iconic trail Addiction was quite well known in its prime, and has been featured in a variety of mountain bike videos.
A few of the trails at Postil are still rideable, but a lot of the wooden stunts and features are damaged and can't be ridden. We definitely recommend checking any features before hitting them.
Although Postil has had its challenges over the last number of years, there is a slight glimmer of hope for the network. The above photo was taken in September of 2020, so people have been putting in some work on the network recently.
The Postil trails can be hard to find due to not having proper signage or a designated parking lot. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done at Postil to bring it back to what it was like in its Prime. To stay up to date with all the latest Postil trail updates, click here.
The below video was filmed in 2013 and shows some of the parts of the network that would still be rideable.
DH, All Mountain, Slopestyle
The Big White Bike Park is British Columbia's newest bike park, having only opened on August 4th, 2017. They still have a long ways to go in terms of building more trails and creating an extensive network, but it is impressive what they have already accomplished in such a short time.
The bike park boasts 19 world class gravity fed trails with a combination of greens, blues, and blacks. Another impressive feat was the construction of the Big White Slopestyle Centre in 2018, which serves as a training facility and a course for the Big White Invitational Slopestyle - an FMB Bronze event.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there wasn't too much going on at the bike park for the 2020 season. The bike park was open briefly, but not too much happened in terms of expansion to the trails. This is what Bike Big White had to say about the bike park leading up to the 2019 season:
"For those looking to log some serious air miles, new for 2019 is the Joker, Bike Big White’s premier jump trail! Gear up for some family fun and come experience some quality BC dirt while soaking in the Okanagan sun at Bike Big White." - Bike Big White
This short GoPro video below showcases one of their trails that opened in 2018 called Black Mamba!
XC, All Mountain
There are a number of singletrack trails that can be found in the hills above Glenmore in the Wilden Development area. Although this network is relatively small, it does offer some fun, flowy trails with nice views of the city. There is no dedicated parking lot for this network, but there are multiple access spots along roads throughout the Wilden area. In recent years the trails have been getting encroached on by developments in the area. Either way it is a great place to go for a quick ride or to try some new trails!
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