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Bike Parks BC Road Trip, Part 3 - Kicking Horse & Fernie

Posted on Jul 31, 2019 by The Free Radicals / Riding: The Free Radicals & Braedyn Kozman


Whistler // Sun Peaks // Silver Star // Big White // Kicking Horse // Fernie

This is the third and final installment of the Bike Parks BC Road Trip. In case you missed the first two be sure to check out the links below!

The Route

Part 1: Whistler & Sun Peaks
Part 2: Silver Star & Big White
Part 3: Kicking Horse & Fernie

Kicking Horse Bike Park

In this final chapter of our road trip, we leave the rolling hills of Okanagan/Shuswap Highlands and head East over Rogers Pass, through Glacier National Park and into the Purcell Mountains to our fifth of six bike parks. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, located just outside of Golden, BC, has strong ties to the community. Formally Whitetooth Ski Area, which was owned by the municipality, Kicking Horse was sold, and underwent serious expansion in the late 90s before re-opening under its current name. Mountain biking has been present at the resort since 2001, but began unconventionally with guided only access to the volunteer-built trails. Most of these trails were built quickly by advanced riders, which established a gnarly reputation for the mountain.

Our drive through the Okanagan to Revelstoke was HOT as Haiti. A stop for some soft-serve ice cream was much needed to cool everyone off and keep morale high.

Once you leave Revelstoke and start up Rogers Pass, the mountains go from stunning to f***ing stunning, road-side stops are highly encouraged.

Much of the trail crew's efforts over the last decade have been focused on updating or decommissioning these gnarly, old, unsustainable trails to modernize the bike park. They have worked hard to maintain a natural trail feel within the park by adding some hand-built new school tech trails and one of the flowiest alpine trails we have ever ridden called "Dragon Chaser". The mountain's alpine tenure has recently expanded, providing Kicking Horse with the opportunity to build more gondola accessible alpine trails, which we would LOVE to see.

Kicking Horse boasts 3,700 ft of ridable vertical, all accessible from one quick ride up the Eagle Eye gondola. They have an "Enduro Pass" which provides great value to riders who aren't afraid of a little pedal power. The Enduro Pass gives you access to two gondola lifts, and when combined with the Excalibur alpine climb trail, you can have a pretty full-on day of riding. We would suggest 2/3 Crystal Bowl laps followed by Magic Carpet Ride to Pioneer. On your second lift, access T4 to LSD to Canyon Creek. This ~15km long, 6,200 ft descent takes you out of resort bounds and back towards town and is a must-ride when at Kicking Horse. You can either drop a car at the Moonraker parking lot to shuttle back to the base of the resort or earn some more post-ride beers by pedalling the single track via Odonata and Scalli-Mag.

The climb trail Excalibur was built in Crystal Bowl a few years ago to allow riders to get several laps of the upper alpine trails from one gondola ride.

Kicking Horse offers free boondock camping in their RV lot which is very close to the base of the mountain. There are no amenities, so if you're in an RV or camper be sure to sani-dump and fill your water before heading up the hill from town.

Double Black is your best bet for pre-ride fuel. Located right at the base of the gondola they pull a mean espresso shot and have some killer contemporary breakfast options mixed in with the classics.

Our go-to warm-up lap in Kicking Horse was Dragon Chaser. The green flow trail winds its way through the alpine of Crystal Bowl like a downhill pump track. It was easily our favourite way down the upper part of the mountain.

Our go-to warm-up lap in Kicking Horse was Dragon Chaser. The green flow trail winds its way through the alpine of Crystal Bowl like a downhill pump track. It was easily our favourite way down the upper part of the mountain.

Magic Carpet Ride is a blue flow trail that was built in such a way that the features are fun for all abilities. Kozman pulls hard to find a 2nd landing with the Rocky Mountains looming in the background.

Shark is over 6ft tall, which has its advantages with the ladies, but causes him some grief when the branches hang low. Here he keeps it tucked while sniping another 2nd landing on Magic Carpet Ride.

The Eagle Eye restaurant sits on the edge of Crystal Bowl at the top of the Gondola and gives you an incredible view of the Purcell Mountains.

Our lunch at Eagle Eye was the best meal we had on the whole trip. Kozman goes pinky out in an attempt to class up his riding kit. Despite the fancy fare, we didn't feel under-dressed in our riding gear and would highly suggest you eat here between laps.

Pioneer, the DH race track at Kicking Horse, reminded Mark and I of riding in Quebec. The rock-slabs aren’t the grippy granite of the coast mountains, rather limestone that turns icy-slick when wet. Between the rocks are webs of roots, everywhere. Kozman and Shark debate lines in this lower section of the trail.

Kozman makes easy work of a highline over the rootball.

Speaking of icy-slick, Stickrock is one of the most iconic trails at Kicking Horse, but riding it when wet is a big NO-NO.

Rule #2: No dirty shoes or kit in the RV.

Our Favourite Kicking Horse Laps

Mark - Dragon Chaser, Dirt Devil, Magic Carpet Ride, Blaster, Pioneer

Kozman - Dragon Chaser, Dirt Devil, Magic Carpet Ride, Blaster, Pioneer

Will - Dragon Chaser, Dirt Devil, Magic Carpet Ride, Blaster, Pioneer

Fernie Alpine Resort

After slipping and sliding around on the roots and rocks of Kicking Horse, we set off down the road to Fernie Alpine Resort, the final stop on our tour. Fernie boasts the oldest lift-accessed mountain bike park in the province, and maybe in North America. The resort has been letting riders up the Elk chair since 1990, which makes Fernie's bike park 8 years older than Whistler's and by my count 1 year older than Mt. Ste Anne, Quebec, the oldest continuous World Cup DH venue. PLEASE FACT CHECK ME PB ARMCHAIR EXPERTS, but I don't think there is a longer continually operating mountain bike park on the continent.

This season, Fernie is operating with an abbreviated bike park as their Timber Chair is out of commission for summer service. But don't let this put a damper on your plans as the Elk Chair is still turning and provides plenty of opportunities to supplement your ride time with tanning. Nick and the bike park crew at Fernie know how to make some wicked trails, we had a blast on Cat's Pyjamas and Case Closed. We actually had so much fun on Case Closed we never even stopped to take photos.

The resort in Fernie is only a short drive out of town, so we spent a fair bit of time chilling downtown. If you are in town on a Wednesday night, be sure to check out their town social, there was live music, local beers and tons of food trucks to sample.

As the name implies, there are a couple of berms on Mr. Berms, and a few with exceptionally distracting views of the town. Will ‘gets pitted bro’ in our favourite right-hander on the trail.

Steep loamers with solid catch berms, no this isn’t the Darkside, this is Fernie’s bike park. Nick and the trail crew at Fernie are giving the people what they want this season! Kozman navigates his way down the steeps on Cat’s Pyjamas.

Sharky and Grom make quick work of the corners on Lower Cat’s Pyjamas. The grade in the latter part of the trail flattens out a bit, allowing one to unclench their butt-hole a little and let the bike run.

Thursday Nights are Fernie Resort's local race night. Five bucks gets you a race and a beer at Legends. If your trip falls on a Thursday you're a fool if you don't take part; everyone from groms to moms were out having fun.

Fernie Bike Park has a ‘no jumps’ policy, but that didn’t stop Sharky from styling it out during the Thursday Night Race on Top Gun.

Sharky channeling his inner Maverick and tries to get into an inverted 4G negative dive on Top Gun.

Another loamer in the Fernie Bike Park. Grom leans it over somewhere on Track 3.

We felt pretty spoiled during our stay at Fernie, they set us dirtbags up with a place at Lizard Creek Lodge, which couldn't be much closer to the mountain.

More photos of dirtbags trying to be fancy. We had a pretty bomb dinner at Cirque, the restaurant in Lizard Creek Lodge. The bruschetta and beat salads were particularly good and both Grom and Shark ordered the Chicken Supreme, which looked damn tasty.

The pump track, Lizard Lane gets a full rebuild every year. The trail crew changes up the layout and features then constructs this masterpiece in a few days, it is short, but one of the most fun sections of trail on the whole mountain. Kozman gets sideways on one of the "big rollers".

Our Favourite Fernie Bike Park Laps

Mark - Mr Berms, Case Closed, Playground, Eville

Kozman - Mr. Berms, Case Closed, Duff Dynasty,

Will - Cat's Pyjamas, Cedar Trail, Eville

Special thanks to Kicking Horse and Fernie Alpine Resort!