From hopping fences to negotiating access, a story of progression

Enjoying a trail in Kamloops. Photo Sam Egan

Story by Sam Egan

Mountain biking in Kamloops looks a lot different than it did just ten years ago. It has matured from the wild-west era when the city was known as a freeride mecca to boasting hundreds of kilometres of mapped and legal trails within city limits.

It’s been a long road, or trail, to get there, and following the development of two of Kamloops’ favourite trail networks illustrates how far the community has come.

The Pineview trail network has seen prolific growth in recent years on just about every side of every fence in the area, and 2019 marks a major milestone for the local mountain bike community. Pineview opened for the first time this spring without restrictions placed on many of the popular trails in the west side of the area, thanks to agreements with landowners that have been evolving alongside the city’s mountain bike culture.

This has been a complex relationship to forge with many private landowners involved and it’s a nod to the efforts of the Kamloops Performance Cycling Centre (KPPC), who manage the trails, for building and maintaining that relationship with landowners and with residents as well as to the Kamloops Bike Riders Association (KBRA) for bringing group rides to the area, introducing locals to the trails, getting more people riding bikes and introducing measures like teaching their groups how to interact with cattle.

It shows the Kamloops riding community is playing by the rules that landowners have put in place, and by demonstrating this social responsibility they’ve allowed access to increase. The area’s trail offerings have exploded in recent years and cover a huge area including the addition of the Iron Mask corridor that brings a whole new chunk of terrain off of Lac Le Jeune road into the equation, adding a new dimension and different riding style to the map. Beyond the trails Pineview is now also outfitted for its increased capacity with multiple access points and proper facilities like parking lots, signage, and washrooms.

The Harper Mountain trail network has also seen significant change, from the consequential wood feature that defined its early days. Though many of those features have been removed due to safety or consistency considerations, some favourites like the wooden corkscrew have been recreated with standardized building practices to improve safety and structural integrity. Many classic routes remain, and two new dirt jump trails have arisen from the ashes of the wood that built Harper’s beginnings.

A lot of work has happened behind the scenes to provide access to Harper, because the trail network we seamlessly enjoy traverses the interests of BC Parks, crown land, the Kamloops Indian Band, and a few right of way agreements. There’s also a portion of Harper Mountain Resort’s controlled recreation area the trail passes through. The entire area is a multi-use Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC) site, where mountain biking is the primary use but where hikers also roam.

The KPPC has a management agreement to maintain the trails within the site, where volunteers, including a few exceptionally committed champions (some of whose names can be found by deciphering trail names) largely build and maintain the trails. Some larger projects are subcontracted to an approved list of builders provided by RSTBC to ensure a difficulty level that is consistent with the trail distinction and what riders expect from top to bottom.

The notoriously-rutted shuttle road linking Harper Mountain Road to the top of the trail network has seen recent repairs, helping transport equipment into the area for trail upgrades and improving access for daily riders and emergency response teams alike. It also addressed drainage issues that arose from having big ruts that formed puddles, causing drivers to avoid the craters and spread road damage further.

Today, Kamloops boasts the world’s largest municipal bike park at the Bike Ranch, the province’s largest municipal park with Kenna Cartwright which boasts its own massive trail network famous for its cross country flow and hundreds of kilometres of legal single track that reach far beyond the areas profiled here. It’s a good time to be a mountain biker.