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Guide to the Sun Peaks Epic XC Ride

 

The Sun Peaks Bike Park has garnered a reputation for its rough and rowdy DH trails and although the mountain’s cross country tracks have been overshadowed by lift-accessed offerings over the past ten years, this secondary network has been quietly developing to create an intricate and extensive patchwork blanketing all three of the resort’s skiable peaks. Lift-access to Mt. Tod’s alpine out-and-back route, “Altitude” moves this relatively remote terrain within the sights of many more riders and if you’re gunning for something ambitious, you can queue this up as stage one on the unofficial Sun Peaks “Epic” xc ride!

Make sure you stock up on snacks and water before heading out, you’ll want plenty of fuel along the way but you’ll have a couple options to remedy this en route if you underestimate how much you’ll need. “Epic” in its purest form is a bit of an overstatement here, but you can indeed bag three peaks in a day if you’re up for it. You can bail out plenty of times along the way if you’re over your head, or just tackle one of the three stages right out of the gate. Elevation has a range of drool-worthy XC and Enduro rentals if you’re packing solely DH heat and need a more suitable tool for the job.

Stage one of said epic will take you from the top of the Sunburst chairlift across Vista to Altitude, out to Tod Lake and back. The trail is advanced intermediate single track with plenty of technical rock gardens, roots and punchy climbs, all fairly low angle with expansive views and dense wildflowers if your timing’s right. Keep your eyes peeled for trail markers, Altitude is a multi-use trail crisscrossed with alternative hiking routes that won’t be much fun to navigate if you get sidetracked.

Riding back towards the top of the Sunburst chairlift from Altitude head out towards Big Rock Ride, a less technical intermediate cross country trail that will take you through the woods and past the resort’s snowmaking reservoir to the top of Sundance and your second peak. The first bit of this trail is the toughest before it branches off Sugar, with some nice undulating single track extending all the way to your next destination.

Watch out for cow patties and knocked over trail signage in the obvious spots along the way. Once the single track gives way to double track, keep an eye out for the unmarked road to your right, more or less at the crest of the hill, that leads to the top of the Sundance chairlift where you can see both where you’ve come from and where you’re going.

After scarfing down some goods from your pack and taking in the view, head back down the trail and hang a right on the main Big Rock Ride trail to continue down an old access road swinging around the backside of the slope. Watch for signage on your right to take you across the face of Sundance and back into the lower reaches of the Bike Park where you can pick your poison to the bottom. 

Heading across Sun Peaks road and through the covered bridge, pedal up the golf course cart path towards the tenth hole tee box and watch for the start of the double track Packhorse Climb on your right, which will take you all the way to the top of your third peak, Mt. Morrisey. 

You’ve got some options for your final descent but the route of choice will take you around the southeast side of the mountain through some pretty wild high country terrain, denoted as the advanced recommended route here. Back in the village at the bike wash station the entire ride will have you clocking into Strava just shy of 50km, making for a pretty massive day in the saddle!

See you on the trails!

- Sun Peaks Bike Park Team
DH Race Track Completed & Shred Hard Camps Tear It Up!

The Sun Peaks Bike Park has seen some huge improvements over the past month or so, with significant machine time spent reworking corners on the majority of the network’s flow trails; Smooth Smoothie, Route 66, Steam Shovel, Biker Cross, and Home Run are all boasting buff new berms and hits, and riding better than ever!


Route 66 snakes its way down the mountain under the Sunburst chairlift.

Dylan Sherrard’s Shred Hard Bike Camp participants have been revelling in the goods this past week, with thirty young shredders breaking in the new trail while dodging puddles and manoeuvering through muddy stretches, between bouts of tack and airtime. 


Homerun’s lower berms got a rebuild over the past week, with the campers laying first tracks upon reopening.


Consistent rainfall has changed the nature of many familiar trails, and the wildflowers are loving it!


Shred Hard Bike Camp groms showing coach Matty Miles their skills on Steam Shovel’s dual rock faces.

In addition to massive amounts of flow trail upgrades, the Trail Crew has just completed Sticky One, the last remaining piece of this year’s new race track for the 2016 Canadian Downhill Championships, coming to Sun Peaks next weekend! The new course will start right from the deck of the Sunburst Lodge, so if you aren’t racing you can catch all the action complete with expansive views, and of course cold beer.


This year’s Canadian Downhill Championships at Sun Peaks Resort will start right from the top of the chairlift, from the deck of the Sunburst Lodge.

The course starts on Sun Peaks’ classic Insanity One, which has hosted racers of a different era of downhill weapons many years ago, before being displaced by DH. This singletrack double-black features a number of rock faces and plenty of roots and drops, with hand built singletrack linking it all together.





Hanging right around the notorious ‘Twisted Sister’s Sister’ on the lower reaches of Insanity One, Sticky One takes you out of the woods across Sting ski run and back into a coastal feeling forest loaded with fresh trail and loamy corners, ripe for the picking.


New trail Sticky One crosses two ski run meadows en route, offering big views of the valley below and loaded with wildflowers.


Fresh, loamy corners that set the tone for Sticky One will keep racers on their toes next weekend.

Sticky One is a relatively tame interval between the technical demands of both Insanity One and its latter connection with Honey Drop, with both the exception to that rule and defining feature waiting right above Lower Shortcut... A fresh, mossy rock face with catch berm below for the bold, and a considerably slower ride around route for the rest.


Rolling into the rock drop on Sticky One and into a freshly packed catch berm.


Tough to properly capture the scale of this feature but it’ll be a make or break course feature.

Sticky One meets Honey Drop roughly half way down its vertical footprint, right above a giant boulder that will either force you over to the right or squeeze you around to the left. 

Sticky One, with the exception of the rock face, rides a lot like the recently opened Resurrection which was featured in last week’s update with mostly fresh, rough, loamy singletrack, and a few strategically placed berms to maintain speed.

Honey Drop is an entirely different beast, however, featuring some of the most difficult terrain on the mountain. When you’re out of the woods on this trail you can breathe once again, with the uncompromising tech turning to tight, flowing single track right into Resurrection.

With Sticky One complete and open to ride, Sun Peaks’ new top-to-bottom race course is now officially ready for next weekend’s 2016 Canadian Downhill Championships! This is the third year running here at Sun Peaks and this year’s course promises to be a game-changer.

Not only does a whole new course offer a fresh challenge for racers, but the new course is much more self-contained than its predecessor and allows the majority of the park trails to stay open while racing ensues. In addition to Insanity One, Honey Drop, Resurrection and Sticky One which make up the track; Wagon Wheel, 4 Road and Lower Shortcut are the only other trails effected and closed by the event. And with chairlift hours running from 10am to 7pm each day, you can ride well into the evening hours!

Enjoy the trails and we'll see you next weekend for the 2016 Canadian Downhill Championshipsat Sun Peaks Resort!

- Sun Peaks Bike Park Team

Spring in July Brings a New Trail to the Roster

The spring weather that Interior British Columbia seemed to have dodged as the ski season came to a close has returned with an unrelenting perseverance, delivering steady rain and chilly temperatures day-after-day, making the weather an extraordinarily – even by Canadian standards – frequent topic of conversation as of late. With the 2016 Canadian DH Championships July 23-24 looming just a couple weeks away and one of the fresh trail additions to the course, Resurrection, now complete and open, we loaded the chairlift to suss out the new trail and see how the park was faring after all this rain.


Dropping into Resurrection from Wagon Wheel.

To our surprise overall conditions were good and aside from water accumulating in the usual spots, our tires held traction and all the moisture seems to have solidified some of the early season trail work with Route 66 and Smooth Smoothie feeling much more firm.

 We found Resurrection part way down Wagon Wheel, and as we descended were astonished by how much new trail had been cut. Dropping off Wagon Wheel, a stretch of fresh singletrack leads you into a beautifully sculpted section of berms and small machine-made hits that flow perfectly from one to the next. From here you may have the illusion you’re on Sun Peaks’ newest flow trail, but you’d be wrong. 



True, the top bit of trail is buff and flowy but a raw and technical challenge is what racers wanted, and that’s just what Resurrection delivers. Once you’ve railed a few berms and gotten a bit sendy, the trail turns to fresh, raw, rooty and loose, often-off-camber singletrack driving through the trees right to the bottom of the mountain. It even approaches the elusive “loam” we usually only find in select stashes near the riparian regions of the park.

Resurrection is an intermediate trail suitable for both your trail and your big bike, and will take on an entirely different persona at race speeds. All-in this makes for a strategic addition to the Sun Peaks Bike Park trail network as a whole, providing a technical blue option on the lower mountain matching the likes of Gummy Bear, Mach and Barn Burner. It’s still a bit rough around the edges but like a fine wine, it will only get better and take shape with age.

The second section of fresh trail slated for the new DH race track, Sticky One, which connects Honey Drop with Insanity One, has seen progress derailed a bit with heavy July showers creating challenging conditions for blazing new trail.


One of those "usual spots" on Sweet One.

The Trail Crew have been logging long, wet days out there and with both the top and bottom of the trail bookending what’s left to do, it’s expected to be completed for next weekend. Don’t miss next week’s Sun Peaks Bike Park update for a sneak peek at the last remaining link in the Canadian DH Championship race track.

See you on the trails!

- Sun Peaks Bike Park Team
Happy Canada Day! 2016 Trail Update #3

With the first week of the Sun Peaks Bike Park operations in the bag, local professional rider and Sun Peaks Coach extraordinaire Dylan Sherrard summed up early season conditions on the trails nicely,

I'm so happy to be back on the Bike Park trails. These first few days in the park have been dreamy to say the least. The trails are mint, the turns are tacky, and the overall vibes are buzzing at an all time high. It's going to be wonderful to watch the rest of this already rad season unfold." Dylan Sherrard, Sun Peaks Coach & Professional Athlete

One week in and with a little fresh rain from the previous evening’s storm still keeping the soil moist, we caught up with local shredder, guide, and President of the Sun Peaks Recreational Trail Association, Jase Petersen, on the last day of June for a few laps and an updated trail report for y’all on this most glorious of national holidays!


Jase sending it off an optional tree stump feature on Gummy Bear, a great intermediate tech trail.

The Trail Crew have been keeping their machine busy on the rework of Smooth Smoothie, the Park’s beginner flow trail, and with the top-to-bottom facelift expected to be complete by the middle of next week we dropped in for a warm-up lap to scope out the progress made thus far.


Smooth Smoothie starts its descent down the slopes of what you may recognize as Crystal Lane in the winter months.

We were surprised and impressed to find much taller berms than this beginner route has ever hosted in the past, they’re relatively low angle to accommodate lower speeds make them less intimidating for beginners. They’re well placed and routed, and have the desired effect of reducing braking for both a better rider experience and improved longevity of the trail surface. Technical jargon aside, it’s way more fun!


The new corners on Smooth Smoothie allow you to carry your speed through the switchbacked descent, and the beginner berms offer a good opportunity for progression into the steeper banks of the intermediate Route 66.

Smooth Smoothie will be open top-to-bottom this weekend, closing Monday for the remainder of work to be complete by mid-week.

From Smoothie we turned things up a notch and headed for the double-black Creeper, running through the rocky shale slopes skier’s right off Munroe Ridge. Creeper’s a niche trail that you may have overlooked, this gem features some very technical, tight singletrack not for the faint of heart.


Dropping into the top of the Creeper’s singletrack off Munroe Ridge ski run.

Creeper will definitely keep you on your toes no matter how much off-camber roots and tricky rock gardens are your jam, it’s a great mid-mountain route to link up your ride to Steam Shovel or Behind Bars and conditions are about as good as they get in there at the moment.


The middle section of Creeper gets especially rocky, line choice is paramount and the trail earns its namesake as you creep through the path of least resistance.

The Bike Park’s north-east facing intermediate trails – Gummy Bear, Barn Burner and Mach – often take a few extra weeks to dry out. This was addressed last year with measures for improved drainage, and they’re already riding great this summer! All three trails are buffed and flowing really well, and we noticed small improvements throughout that had us sending little rocks into perfectly placed transitions left right and centre.


The wide and fun woodwork midway down Gummy Bear gives a break from the otherwise technical, root-filled trail surface.

On its course down the mountain the machine will detour to work a small section of Steam Shovel on Monday, making few annual tune-ups before resuming work on Smooth Smoothie Tuesday. We’d been playing nice and keeping the rubber side mostly down on our tour until now, so we headed for Steam Shovel to remedy that and grab a “before” look.


Jase’s carbon Norco Aurum sticks like glue to the double rock face that sets you up for the rest of Steam Shovel.


Lower Steam Shovel features a long line of trail speed-ready dirty jumps including tables, doubles, step-ups and downs, creek gaps, and rollers to scrub.

Once Smoothie and Steam Shovel are complete, the machine will be making its way to Home Run on the opposite end of the Park for a few improvements on this high-speed blue trail.

Canadian DH Championships are quickly approaching for a third year running in Sun Peaks and selections of the fresh trail additions to the new race track are ready for their first riders, with most of the all-new Resurrection now open for business! The connection from Wagon Wheel should be complete by mid-week, until then please access the rest of Resurrection from the Burfield Outrun off 5 Mile Road. It has not seen many tires so it will still be soft and fresh, and corners and other details will be addressed next week as it sees some initial traffic. Sticky One’s still projected to open July 8. Watch for next week’s update for more on these new additions and the 2016 Canadian DH Nationals race course! 

Jase’s shiny new carbon Norco Aurum was compliments of Elevation Bike, Ski & Board, Sun Peaks’ local bike shop located adjacent to the clock tower in the Sun Peaks Grand Hotel & Conference Centre. In addition to a giant fleet of Norco Aurums they also have a bike-envy-enducing quiver of XC, Enduro and DH Demo rigs from Norco and Rocky Mountain Bicycles in their rental line-up. Elevation has everything else you may need, or want, for your ride and it’s also where you’ll rendezvous for your guided tours and lessonsFall Line Tuning & Repair Centre is on-site for any work your ride needs, and to install any new components you might find yourself acquiring during your visit.

See you on the trails and happy Canada Day!

- Sun Peaks Bike Park Team
Lift-Accessed Riding Starts TOMORROW! Sun Peaks Bike Park Opens Friday, June 24

The Sun Peaks Trail Crew samples Route 66’s Dusty Berms, pre-dust, June 2016.

You’ve been longing for this day nearly as much as the struts on your trusty shuttle vehicle… The Sun Peaks Bike Park opens tomorrow morning, offering nearly 2,000’ of lift-accessed vertical! Long-time local rider and Sun Peaks Bike Park Coordinator James Jeffries says we’re in for a treat this weekend,

Overall trail conditions are great, it’s hero dirt out there! There are a few of the usual wet spots still to dry up. Route 66 is still soft after a full machine re-work but it will tighten up as it gets tires on it and settles with time.” James Jeffries, Sun Peaks Bike Park Coordinator

The Trail Crew’s been busy with a top-to-bottom machine grooming of the park’s signature green route, Smooth Smoothie. This upgrade will improve trail smoothness and flow, while also assessing drainage issues for better trail sustainability. In a similar vein as Route 66’s facelift, Smoothie’s work is toward the end of making the trail more approachable for beginner riders as an introduction to lift-accessed riding, for overall progression through the Bike Park’s many trail options.

Smoothie’s upgrade is still in the works and though the trail is expected to be open to the public, you’ll notice a marked difference as you pass the parked machine illustrating how far the crew’s progress has descended. The full upgrade is expected to be completed by the end of next week and, like Route 66, will be soft for the first little while. Both trails will tighten up as they get tires on them and settle with time. In case you're wondering about the process; after the initial machine build is complete on a section of trail, the Trail Crew moves in to manually remove large rocks, rake the surface smooth, and shovel-slap pack/tamper-pack as terrain allows, all before it sees the first rubber.

The new race course for the 2016 Canadian DH Championships is shaping up nicely, new trail components Sticky One and Resurrection are still works in progress and will complete the new top-to-bottom singletrack assault once finished.

The new race course is nothing like the track used in the past, it will test racers’ bike handling skills for the fastest times. The new course is 100% singletrack, with a select few machine built features and segments to keep things interesting, starting from the top of the Sunburst chairlift on Insanity One right to the base of the mountain.” James Jeffries, Sun Peaks Bike Park Coordinator


Bicycle Café ripper and Trail Crew 9-5’er Kurtis Walton shows us the race lines on Insanity One, part of the 2016 Canadian DH Championship course, in June 2016.

Beyond focusing on improvements to the mountain’s beginner and intermediate machine-made flow trails, the trail crew has been tending to the usual pre-season maintenance that often gets glossed over, but make the biggest overall difference to your ride out there; repairing water damage, brush cutting singletrack, general trail surface buffing and jump lip/landing shaping.

What can you ride tomorrow? Just about everything!

The Sun Peaks Bike Park is home to 40 lift-accessed trails – check out the trail map here and trail status and descriptions here – from those 40 options 36-38* will be open to ride, with the exceptions being:

  • Resurrection and Sticky One are shaping up nicely but are still works in progress, as new elements to the DH race track. Both new trails are slated to be open to ride by July 8, or sooner, with Sticky One likely coming first. 
  • Vista and Altitude XC trails remain closed for early season riding due to moisture issues and lingering snowpack in the alpine, this route will be open as soon as conditions allow. Check out recommended routes on the Bike Park trail map for alternative XC and All Mountain routes.
  • *Behind Bars may need some additional time to dry out and Smooth Smoothie is in the midst of a full facelift, it will likely be open but the full upgrade is not expected to be complete until next Friday.

Get yourself to the bottom of the Sunburst chairlift and enjoy as much riding as you can handle, with a day stretching from 10:00am through to 7:00pm (last lift up at 6:45pm) you can get your fill of DH with plenty of time to swap out for the trail bike and explore the mountain’s lift-accessed cross country and all mountain trails, or earn your turns with a pedal on the Mt. Morrisey XC trail network


Taking in the view from the top of Route 66, high above the Shuswap Highlands.


Root Dog is a great stretch of super technical trail on the lower reaches of the mountain, a great option to tie into your trail bike route or bomb through with more travel as a technical alternative to the Flow Zone and Biker Cross. Looking mint in June, 2016.

Bike Park season is finally upon us! We hope you enjoy the trails this weekend and that hero dirt that us interior riders usually only dream of. If you see the trail crew lads out there be sure to toss some extra high fives their way for all the blood sweat and tears they’ve put into making your day in the saddle a rad one.

See you on the trails!

- Sun Peaks Bike Park Team
Sun Peaks Bike Park Opens Next Friday, June 24!

The Sun Peaks Bike Park is set to open for lift-accessed riding next Friday, June 24, and the hard-working and hard-shredding lads of the trail crew have been busy making moves for some time out there! After an epic winter snowpack seemed to quickly melt from the mountain, we’ve all been curious how things have been shaping up on the trails.

Outside Operations Director Barney Mouat was one half of the original 2-man Bike Park trail crew back in the late 90’s, responsible for Kaboom, Keener and the original Barn Burner with the assistance of other local riders exploring the trails at the time. He oversees a much more evolved crew these days, with resources that he would have dreamed of back in the era of borrowing quads and skidding logs for bridges, and put our minds at ease with a positive update before heading out to take a look first-hand,

There are some areas that saw heavier than normal erosion but the way the trails were put to bed helped ensure erosion was minimal, and overall the trails are in good shape. We only had a few hot spells in May that rapidly melted the snow and from what the trail crew has reported, there’s nothing much out of the ordinary that will delay trail openings.” Barney Mouat, Outside Operations Director for Sun Peaks Resort

After chasing the trail crew down a selection of bumpy shuttled descents, it’s a bit wet in the expected spots but overall the riding is already excellent and looking very promising for opening. At this point most trails are expected to be open to ride next Friday with the exceptions of our high alpine XC trail Altitude, Sweet One and Gummy Bear which usually take a little more time to dry out, and new trails Sticky One and Ressurection which are currently being built (more on these below).

Facelift for Route 66

Route 66 is Sun Peaks’ quintessential machine-made intermediate berm trail and, running under the chairlift for the bulk of its tenure, if you’ve ridden the Bike Park you’ve witnessed every manner of rider railing (or attempting to rail) these corners over the years. Trail building techniques have come a long way since Route 66’s inception and the trail crew came up with a reroute to the existing track that will increase flow and make the trail more approachable for a wider range of riders, by reducing speed and the associated excess breaking, skidding, and hand cramps that were commonplace on the old trail. The new work begins below the popular “dusty berms” (don’t worry, these are still intact), creating a winding serpent of fresh trail under the chair.

Bike Park progression as a whole is at the heart of this re-work, with the new Route 66 offering a bridge between the green Smooth Smoothie and Lever Lovers, and Sun Peaks' more advanced blue trails. It’s a great option to get used to riding berms and higher speeds before introducing the more technical aspects of rocks and roots that many more advanced intermediate trails offer. Read descriptions of the Bike Park trails here.

The trail crew led the way down for the trial run, claiming the very first tracks on the fresh dirt layed down by the excavator. Although the skies temporarily closed in with a quick June flurry for the first few turns and the dirt was still a little soft to really pin it, the route felt great and we were all excited to give it another go once it’s firmed up.

New DH Race Track for Canadian Championships

The Sun Peaks Bike Park is poised to host the Canadian DH Championships for the third year running on July 23-24 and this summer, racers will find an entirely new race track awaiting their arrival. The new course utilizes two legendary pieces of Sun Peaks singletrack that have seen race tape in the earlier years of downhill madness on the mountain; Insanity One and Honey Drop. We took a run down Insanity One earlier in the week and it’s looking great for opening day.



New to the roster to complete the top-to-bottom assault is Sticky One, which will connect Insanity one to Honey Drop, and Resurrection which will pick up where Honey Drop ends with singletrack through the trees with some man made features to accommodate the higher race speeds. Both trails are in the works at this time so stay tuned for updates as they come together! Check out the Sun Peaks Bike Park trail map here to see where these new routes fit into the big picture.

Extended Lift Hours for Summer 2016!

New this summer, the Sunburst chairlift will be running an extra two hours every day, from 10:00am to 7:00pm. That's two extra hours to sneak out for a ride after work, or to enjoy the cooler hours on the trails. New discounted “Twilight” tickets offer mountain access from 4:00pm to 7:00pm which, in addition to Season Passes and Peaks Bike Cards, gives you tons of options to explore the mountain more, for less this summer. Shop online 24/7 here.

Stay tuned for next week’s update for a more detailed report for opening day of the Sun Peaks Bike Park – Friday, June 24. See you on the trails!

- Sun Peaks Bike Park Team