Bikes and Horses in the South Chilcotin – a four day alpine adventure


Chilcotin September 2008

Day 1 – Little Paradise – Manson – Tyoax – September 4, 2008

Words by Lee Lau. Photos by, Sharon Bader and Rob McLachlan unless otherwise noted. (Hyperlinks in the titles lead to the full story with large pictures)

|| Day 1 – Little Paradise – Manson – Tyoax || Day 2 – Graveyard – Elbow Pass || Day 3 – Graveyard – Elbow – Lorna – Tyax – Deer Pass – Spruce Lake || Day 4 – Spruce Lake – Windy Pass – LS Bluffs – Lick Creek – Gun Creek ||

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Cribbed shamelessly from a previous article, here is an introduction to an area that’s getting more well-known by mountain-bikers located just four hours north of Vancouver. Within an area about the size of Belgium lives about 800 people full-time and perhaps as many grizzlies – the South Chilcotin. It’s attraction for mountain bikers is its easy access to alpine terrain and views that have to be seen to be believed. It’s honeycombed with access mining and logging roads that are linked by a network of (mostly horse) and game trails.

The Southern Chilcotin has been getting some play in the mtb media. A segment in The Collective showing riders ripping along velvety singletrack had adrenaline racing and many people saying “Where is that? And how do I get there?” I’ve had the good fortune of knowing the Chilcotin from the days of rigid forks, long stems and cantilever brakes – having embarked on my first expedition there some 12 years ago.

Mountain-bikers are latecomers to this area. While I’ve documented many trips to the Chilcotin with photos and words on my private site (and left just as many trips unrecorded), I’ve always felt protective about the area. Call it elitism, call it secret-trail-society syndrome, the southern Chilcotin has always been my little slice of paradise shared only with a few other adventurous souls interested in venturing off the beaten path.

Things change, the word gets out and as the sport of mountain-biking has grown in popularity the number of people who are interested in venturing away from the safe confines of the Lower Mainland around Vancouver have increased. Resources like the first decent map of the area, and guided tours have made some trails “crowded”. Having said that, crowded is a relative term. I now see other people on the Gun Creek grasslands milk-run where I never used to see other tracks. Fortunately it really isn’t that hard to ride for hours and not see another person if you take the time to explore.

The area where most people bike, hike and ride horses is known as the Southern Chilcotin-Spruce Lake Wilderness Area, designated as such by the British Columbia government in 2001 after almost 70 years of lobbying by environmental and preservation groups. A step of protection below provincial park designation, a wilderness area permits mechanized and self-propelled transport but prohibits resource exploitation (ie mining and logging).

Our bikes wait patiently at the hitching posts then get loaded in the horse truck for transportation 30km down the road to the end of the non 4×4 part of the Relay Creek FSR

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About the author: Lee Lau

Lee Lau calls North Vancouver and Whistler BC home. He's had over 15 years experience riding bikes mainly in western North America and in Europe. Unlike many people who learned to ride bikes on North Shore trails, he actually enjoys riding (and sometimes bushwhacking) uphill.

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