What’s the plan for Revelstoke-area mountain bike trails?

A master trail plan for the Revelstoke area gives us a glimpse into our future singletrack

Proposed new ‘Sunnyside’ trails south of Revelstoke on the east side of the Columbia River.

This story first appeared in print in the April/May 2019 issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.

Vision is a trait not uniquely human. In fact, we’re probably at the shoddy end of the mammalian scale in terms of eyesight. But what we do have is the ability to envision and shape our own future, and that’s exactly what Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC), a division of the Ministry of Forests, has been doing over the last couple of years. In cooperation with the Revelstoke Cycling Association (RCA), RSTBC has created a comprehensive trail master plan for the valley that outlines how existing trail networks should be managed and what trail expansion opportunities may better fulfill growing demand for singletrack. Essentially, it’s a glimpse at what trails we’ll be hiking, biking, and running on in five to ten years time.

“Revelstoke has unique opportunities and areas that can possibly be developed. This idea behind this study was to get professional recommendations on how this should be done,” explains Steve Scott, RCA Director of Trail Planning.

File photo: The B.C. Enduro series race in Revelstoke. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

Mount Macpherson and Boulder Mountain — Revelstoke’s stalwart anchors of mountain biking — will remain largely unchanged for the foreseeable future. No major logging operations are planned, the climbing trail proposal for Boulder has been shelved, and most trails will only see minor re-routes to address erosion or to improve rider flow. In 2019 we’ll officially say farewell to Man Purse and Chair and we’ll welcome a new blue-rated trail — Upper Tall Timber.

It’s also possible that we’ll be welcoming the Blanket Creek trails into Revelstoke’s official network in 2019. The master plan recommends that maintenance for the Baby Blanket, Rolling Stone, and Lost Boys trails be assumed by RSTBC and that those trails be brought up to provincial standards, or best management practices of design and construction. These BMP’s may dictate re-routes of problematic sections of trail, but the network will likely retain its challenging nature and unique rock slab features.

Having received a 5.5-kilometre extension through the alpine in 2018, Frisby Ridge won’t see significant changes in coming years. However, due to the growing popularity of the area, changes are recommended for the Ultimate Frisby trail. This could mean the addition of easier ride-arounds for steeply graded sections, or possibly the construction of an entirely new blue-rated trail.

Volunteers work on bike trails in the Mount Macpherson area. Photo: Bryce Borlick

So far, so good, right? Well the RSTBC master plan saves the best news for last. On the low elevation slopes just north of Mount Cartier, dubbed Sunnyside, an extensive new trail network is in the works. Chosen for its southwest exposure and its lack of tenure, logging, and wildlife conflicts, the currently undeveloped mountainside would offer ‘enduro’ style biking and would significantly expand Revelstoke’s riding options.
The ambitious plan for Sunnyside calls for a 10-kilometre blue-rated climbing trail that would access a wide variety of over 700-metre sustained descents. Staged development would see the lower third developed in the next two years, the middle third in two to five years, and the upper third in five to ten years. Although the specific trail routing has not been established, the master plan estimates the costs at $300,000 in the first five years and $750,000 by the ten year mark, with those funds expected to come from provincial and federal grants. Possible inclusions are e-bike specific trails, a helipad at the top for heli-drops, and connections to the alpine trails currently being built on Mount Mackenzie. (Since this story was published in the April/May 2019 print issue, RCA secretary Alex Cooper contacted the Mountaineer to clarify that while the RSTBC master plan includes reference to heli-biking on the Sunnyside trail system, the RCA, “do[es] not support heli-biking … This suggestion is in the trail plan, but it is not in our plans.”)

Exciting times lay ahead for trail users in Revelstoke if these grand plans translate into reality. Popping the champagne may be premature but given this community’s proficiency at getting things done, you might want to keep some on ice.

Want to know more? Read the RSTBC Revelstoke Mountain Bike Trail Plan here.

Bryce Borlick is a world traveler, outdoor enthusiast, and urban refugee whom you’re most likely to find wandering the mountains in search of nothing in particular. With an unruly interest in sustainability and permaculture, he may be the only person in Revelstoke dreaming of one day doing burnouts in an electric F-250 towing a tiny house.