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Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part One – Silverstar Bike Park and Predator Ridge

Oct 22, 2016
by Lee Lau  
Silverstar and Beowulf

Vernon sits at the north end of Okanagan Lake in the British Columbia Interior. Vernon's origins are farming; it benefits from being situated on a thoroughfare along the Okanagan Valley in bucolic lake country. Vernon's rolling terrain and warm sunny climate make both travel and farming easy in the area; a characteristic of terrain which also makes for choice trail building. There is diverse mountain biking and an enormous trail system (200kms approx) in the North Okanagan/Vernon area.

Silver Star's bike park is considered a destination of choice for downhill mountain bikers throughout North America, consistently being voted among the top three offerings in the continent. With Silver Star's expansion into the epic cross country realm with the Beowulf trail and their proximity to Sovereign Lakes cross country area (also in the confusingly named Silver Star Provincial park), Silver Star alone has no shortage of riding choices.

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We had the privilege of riding Beowulf with Cam and Claudia Sorensen, Cam is the Bike Park Manager of Silver Star Resort as well as main trail designer for the park and the new cross-country Beowulf trail. He also put in a fair amount of volunteer time on some of the more tech trails in the Vernon area (Big Ed and Hammered Cow to name just two). Cam and Claudia gave us a preview of the 35 km long Beowulf. We bypassed and also cut short some sections as the trail is still in progress but nearing completion for an official opening in summer of 2017.

Beowulf at Silver Star

Beowulf (the trail) is a 35 km loop to be fully completed in summer of 2017. The trail starts in Silver Star's subalpine and winds through three different bio-geo-climatic zones - an entirely appropriate way to showcase the diversity of terrain. Beowulf is also an Old English epic poem set in Scandinavia.

From wiki - Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes, whose mead hall in Heorot has been under attack by a monster known as Grendel. After Beowulf slays him, Grendel's mother attacks the hall and is then also defeated. Victorious, Beowulf goes home to Geatland (Götaland in modern Sweden) and later becomes king of the Geats. After a period of fifty years has passed, Beowulf defeats a dragon, but is fatally wounded in the battle. After his death, his attendants cremate his body and erect a tower on a headland in his memory.

Consider this your biking cultural moment.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part 1
Beating the rains to ride the Beowulf trail with Cam and Claudia. Beautifully routed and well-constructed trail with fun pumps and rollers for grade reversals to shed the water (going to get a lot of snow and rain here in the subalpine portion). Some portions of trails are two years old already; the pine needles are freshly reloaming the trail bed.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part 1
As you descend you cross into a pine then a cedar forest with organic loam imparting more natural suspension. There's quite the challenge in routing some sections especially given the variety of soil and vegetation but it should be a destination trail when completed

Silver Star Bike Park

Following our morning ride on Beowulf on our first day we were going to ride the Bike Park in the afternoon, but rains and wind came in strong. Instead we hung out in the village and enjoyed the hot tub at the Snowbird Lodge. The next day the weather broke for the better so we took advantage of the rental fleet's carbon Pivot Phoenix and carbon Devinci Wilson and slayed bike park blue runs. Now a bit slippery following the rains but still running tremendously well.

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Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part 1
The rental shop where they have carbon Phoenix Pivots, Devinci Wilsons, and Norco Aurums. All for sale at the end of the season!

Predator Ridge

Closer to Vernon there is a resort run by Predator Ridge a business that is actively promoting tourism in the area. While their focus is golf and real estate, they are well aware that a viable community must offer other activities and exceptionally aware that cycling is a rapidly growing tourism and recreational activity; something which draws visitors to the area

Predator Ridge has found the road and mountain biking religion and hasn't just paid lip service to support the sport. Notably Predator paid to build a trail from their resort area to the Ellison Provincial Park trails. This Ellison Connector trail is professionally built by Cam Sorensen and allows you to avoid a circuitous drive through Vernon and connecting to the cross country Ellison trails.

Another plus for Predator is their close proximity to Kalamalka Provincial Park in the little town of Coldstream (only 25 minutes away). Kal Lake trails offer a bewildering choice of almost 100 trails on which you are allowed to ride. Diversity includes the Epic Pali Gap trail to create a 30+km epic with a 1000m singletrack climb to shorter scenic grassland riding overlooking the blue waters of Kalamalka Lake. More on Kal Lake riding in the next segment.

A note that the public trails are maintained by the North Okanagan Cycling Society - NOCS - Feel free to donate if you enjoy their trails! Donate directly or donate through Trailforks if you use this service to plan for your trips.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part 1
Sunset on the Ellson Connector - biking in Predator Ridge.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part 1
Trails right from the resort! The connector itself is 2.08km, with 184m descending and 56m climbing when riding from Predator Ridge to the Provincial Park.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part 1
On Blisters Sisters; a trail in the Ellison Provincial Park public trail network adjoining the golf course of Predator Ridge.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part 1
Commonage Road is the road paralleling Hwy 97 that offers a nice scenic road ride. It connects Vernon to Predator Ridge


While at Silver Star we stayed at the Snowbird Lodge. This location is perfect for biking. We stayed right on the mountain with views of the ski and bike park area. It has secure bike lockers with a bike wash station; a hot tub in on the Patio and was so close to everything that, if we wanted to, could fire a potato cannon and hit people wandering through the village.

As we were two couples and a dog we had two adjoining rooms with their own well-equipped kitchen and bathrooms. Snowbird Lodge has exceptional value for the location.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part 1
Outside and bike storage.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part 1
Rooms and Hot Tub - also dog friendly.


Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part 1
Dinner at Red Antler - slow cooked ribs! So good we ordered seconds.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part 1
Lunch at Bugaboos Bakery and Cafe

Other Activities

Silver Star Bike Park and the village area had plenty to do for non-mountain bikers. Another couple with us took their dog for a nice walk along village hiking trails. Then one of the non-mountain biking couples rode his road bike 44km to Predator Ridge (where we stayed the next two days) along the secondary roads. Road riding is very popular in the Vernon area and you can see why. Uncrowded secondary roads and scenic views abound.

Vernon Fall Mountain Biking Part 1
Walking the dog through the Silver Star resort

When to Go

The warm season lasts from mid June to early September  with an average daily high temperature above 23°C. The hottest days of the year are in late July, with an average high of 29°C and low of 14°C.The cold season lasts from mid November to late February with an average daily high temperature below 6°C. The coldest day of the year is early January, with an average low of -6°C and high of -4°C.

A good time to go is coincidentally when the weather in the coast turns bad. March - May and Sept - Oct can be prime biking months in the North Okanagan. Trails get a bit of rain (but not too much rain); daytime temps are nice but not scorching. The sandy soil of the region soaks up moisture and turns tacky. Rooms, campgrounds, roads and hotels are uncrowded.

Maps from Trailforks
Beowulf - Track is hidden since it is not complete.

Predator Ridge to Ellison Provincial Park

MENTIONS: @leelau

Author Info:
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Member since Oct 18, 2009
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  • 49 2
 I'm going to be that guy and say it... The jumps at silverstar need serious work. Some of them are down right dangerous. Your wheel base doesn't fit into the transitions making them very "Bucky" and the landings aren't suitably sized to allow for progression either. In many cases the jumps will actually decrease in size as you move through the line. Cam did an absolute stellar job banging out some serious km of trail on Beowulf but SS was foolish to pass on the opportunity to inject some young into the park with Tom and bas' offer to build there with the support of red Bull. I remember when silverstar was progressive in the dh/DJ world but those days are gone. New rockstar is a disaster, it still has no flow. The bike ranch, a public city park, has bigger and safer jumps because they are better made. Stop focusing on taking out wood bridges across drainage ditches at road crossings and actually fix the trails.
  • 12 1
 The 140-160 travel bike park...soon to be hardtail bike park
  • 15 1
 As much as we should all be grateful to have a resort like Silverstar, I would have to agree with this. The lower Rockstar revamp is not only flawed but dangerous. I have ridden this resort since the expansion over a decade ago, and the new jumps that were built (instead of just tweaking the old ones) are treacherous (especially the 2 before the Superstar bridge crossing). Its obvious the original trail builder (whose work was commendable) is no longer digging.

The explosion of enduro has "shifted the focus" (or so it seems) away from the DH trails. Easy to understand from many angles, but regrettable for those who stick to the gravity terrain. The good news is that Beowulf will be done next year, and perhaps the DH side may start to get more attention, as days gone by.

Still a great resort in every way ... just needs some tweaks.
  • 15 1
 I've ridden the park for 5 years and I have to say the same thing. especially as a 650b rider the new rockstar jumps and also the bottom of prostar were just awkward and unnecessarily scary. I absolutely love the park and its atmosphere but in order to keep up with big white (which is opening next summer) you guys need to make it bigger and better. Bring in real diggers who aren't going to dumb down the park and iron out everything else. In the last 3 years you have focused on the people who are newer and only want to ride xc which is perfectly fine but maintain your fanbase or they're all going to ditch you for big white.

Again, commendable that you're trying to expand and grow your fanbase but don't do it at the cost of everything else sucking.
  • 7 2

Sorry silverstar :'(
  • 7 0
 I hope SilverStar is listening... people are watching this.
  • 6 0
 Ah man I thought it was just me. Thought I was being snobby or something, being more used to the whistler jump trails. I went to Silver Star and the jumps were scaaarrryyyy, really had to slow down going in to them just to hit the landing and focus on not going over my handle bars. The park was fun for sure, but I agree it could use some work especially the jump trails.
  • 8 0
 Thanks for saying it, lots of us have been thinking this the last few years. I find the trails extremely inconsistent.. one minute you have to pedal your ass off just to get over a lip, then next jump you have to squeeze the breaks so you don't get bucked or over shoot the tranny by 10ft. High speed jump trails should flow safely with a bit of speed checking the odd time. I have had a season pass for 6 years but will not be getting another one until trails improve. Cam needs to open his ears or the crowds will keep getting smaller. Lets hope Big White builds a legit DH park.
  • 5 1
 Thanks for all your comments. We are definitely taking note and have several sections on our list of improvements for coming years. As commented, Beowulf will be getting finished and opened early in 2017 and you'll see more work happening in the DH park! Thanks for riding SilverStar and your feedback. See ya next summer!
  • 2 0
 @SilverStarBikePark: Like Beowulf its self, you guys built a trail all the way to the bottom and it's going to be a long gruelling climb back up...
  • 2 1
 @josht1: long climb- yes, gruelling... hopefully not. It's designed to be a moderate grade to not kill you and make the long climb only hurt as much as your fitness provokes.. As with all other "epics" it's not for everyone but should see many riders! And thankfully there is 10Km of down before the climb!
  • 26 2
 ridebikes 131 is bang on in his assessment of the trails this year at Silverstar.
I started the season at Silverstar on the bike patrol. I saw injuries that I believe were caused by crappy, bucky transitions on jumps. Also agree the "new" Rockstar is a flop. Uphill grade for the biggest jumps on the trail? Seems like a basic kindergarten understanding of physics should be enough figure out that won't work well.
I left after one month, due to the nature of injuries, in comparison to the $12/hr they pay to help people with injuries serious enough to cause fatality if not treated. Not to mention how much certification costs to do that job.
If that is not enough for cheapness, they charge the other resort staff over $100 for a bike rental if they wish to go out and enjoy the place they work at. They also make for $10.50-$12/hr. So an employee that doesn't own a bike, yet works at the bike park, can choose to go riding at the resort they work at, but they have to forgo a meal or two to do so.
I would not return to work at this mountain unless they made a change with their rate of pay to reflect the over one thousand dollars worth of certifications that is needed for patrol work. They are incredibly cheap and the staff occasionally reflect that in their outward performance. Frown
P.S. the people I met and worked with were really great people. My rant is directed at the resort owners and upper management that set the wage for their "Valued" employees.
After leaving Silverstar I went to work for Fernie. What a difference in treatment there. Night and DAY. For the better.
  • 6 9
 @B-rad I'm sorry but go to many other Resorts and lets see how much you get paid with 0 years experience sure you have certs doesn't mean you now what your doing. Why don't you talk to some people from whistler and see how much the average employee makes. If you think SS has a bunch of nasty injuries then you clearly haven't spent much time at a bike park with a comparable amount of people riding the trails sure compare it to Fernie's injuries we have way more because we have way more people on the trails.
  • 13 2
 @robert89: With all due respect Robert. What do you know about my full experience?
I did go to another resort and got an $8/hr raise, 15% more off retail goods and 20% more discount on food at the resort.
The bike patrol in Silverstar needed an emergency increase in maintenance allowance near the end of the season, as some guys were starting to be unable to do their jobs, because they couldn't afford to fix their own bikes, that they are required to use daily for work.
$12/hr is unacceptable in my mind, so I quit. I kind of look down on the ones that stay and allow that to even happen. I spoke with a former long time Ski/Bike patrol and he told me when they cut the pay years back lots of them quit. Good for them I say.
PS. I lived in Whistler for 8 years. I am fully aware of what they make and why Whistler is still talking about the same sustainability issues that they were talking of, in the mid 90's.
If you enjoy working for a resort that pays a poor wage and my rant offended you, then I guess I am sorry, to you, Robert89
  • 3 5
 @B-rad74: If you lived in whistler for so long then you should be familiar with how the industry is. I agree you get paid less but you should know that this is an industry problem not a SS problem and its not going to change anytime soon when they can always find someone to work for $12.
I think its hard to compare when you are doing two different jobs.
I'm not offended I just hold people who have been in the industry long enough and i respect to a higher standard because I feel like you should know its not always fair. Just Disappointed
I also agree some changes need to be made to SS and the industry as a whole
  • 2 0
 @robert89: I would like to add to this thread that my rant about Silverstar was clearly about my own displeasure with my wage, for a job that I consider to be crucial to the users of Silverstar, and that I felt that perhaps some of the IMBA trial building standards in regards to jumps may be flawed.
These were MY OPINIONS.
I still do believe that Silverstar is a great resort. The fact that they are trying to be progressive and follow a set of standards is commendable. Often trying to make something better comes with some growing pains.
I want to make it clear that in no way was I trying to rip on the guys (and gals) that do the trail work and patrol work at Silverstar. All those that I worked with were tremendously comitted to bringing the best experience possible for all those that visit Silverstar.
Knowing those folks, I will say that I believe that Silverstar will use the feedback they have recieved on forums like this to make changes to ensure the continued enjoyment for all that visit. If this entails re evaluating some portions of trails, then I am sure that is what they will do.
Futhermore, it should certainly be noted that the equipment and training that the bike patrol has is as cutting edge as you will find at any resort, bar none.
The people that do the patrol job are some of the most commited people in the industry.
Am I dipleased with what they pay these people? Absolutely, but it does not take away from the professionalism that those people display on a daily basis. Just ask those that have needed their help.
Also, the trail crew is probably some of the hardest working people I have worked with in any industry. It was in retrospect that I felt that perhaps my words were seen as critical of the people I worked with.
This is meant to clairfy that my complaints were motivated solely by my disatisfaction with the wage, given the injuries that I myself dealt with.
  • 9 1
 I lived in Vernon for a few years and the mtb culture is fantastic. Still one of my fav places to ride and I wish I could be back in Vernon full time. I'll have to settle for a few weekends a year. While Vancouver's North Shore and Whistler are covered with 3+ weeks of hardcore rain and the friggin 'feds decide to shut down Mt Seymour, the North Okanagan has supreme riding.
  • 7 0
 Thanks Jeff for the headsup on other accomodations. Ellison campground was booked solid in July. Looked amazingif you can get a spot. We did put in more info about Ellison and Kal Lake in part 2 with credit to other builders like Olympia and NOCs.
  • 9 3
 Did you stay up at predator? I hope the addition of the MTB product changes the vibe of the resort... Even when accompanied by long standing members the staff (Particularly the front desk and wait staff) come across as arrogant ass hats.
  • 6 0
 We went by in July once without the PB credentials and they were nice. This time around we were treated well but then we're there to write about them so it won't be too surprising.

I heard they ran a toonie and it was good? Plus they're talking about bringing more trails online.
  • 5 10
flag vernonjeff (Oct 23, 2016 at 8:38) (Below Threshold)
 not likely crawford. they are going to realize pretty quickly that there is no economic benefit to mtb trails and will probably try to start making the locals pay for day passes even though the main trails are in park lands. That is the way predator rolls...
  • 5 0
 Vernon rider here, thanks for the area recognition! NOCS does a great job and has amazing volunteers. Unfortunately, our tool trailer was broken into recently and our trail equipment was stolen. I would appreciate if anyone reading this could spread the awareness that this equipment is out there: www.castanet.net/news/Vernon/179050/Thieves-rob-non-profit-group
  • 5 0
 I really liked SS. Agree the jumps are a bit unique... more kick than most. Having said that I kept it to blues plus Rockstar and Pipe Dream.
For the record, I also saw a load of pretty bad/serious injuries...
Cool people there for the most part. Good lessons for my kids and wife. Zero lineups. Camped in the parking lot.
  • 7 1
 @leelau Thanks for the great write up of the area and promoting all the different networks around Vernon! Great write up promoting the vast trail networks that cater to all levels of ridership!
  • 8 2
 The pike patrol in ss is out of control. Insted of promoting a fun vacation like atmostphere they scream at you for riding in the village when your the only one there. Wont be back.
  • 4 2
 Yeah I got yelled at once by the "mayor" of silver star for one-pedal pushing my bike at 8am. Between that guy and Kyle at the rentals, you'd think they actually despise visitors.
  • 4 2
 I think "scream" is probably a bit of an exaggeration. Just because you're the only one there at that time doesn't mean that you aren't always the only one there. It's about forming good habits.

Maybe it's common sense for you to walk your bike through the village when it's busy, but they don't know you and they don't know that. You would be surprised at how many people ride around completely oblivious even though there are visible signs posted at every entrance.

Walking your bike through the village is common practice at all bike parks. All they are doing is keeping the safety of all the guests in mind.
  • 2 0
 I visit here semi-regularly cause my Dad lives in Cold Stream, but now I'm feeling hard up for some time in the valley. This is the ultimate geography and climate for me, just wish I could find a job a little easier.
  • 5 1
 Could I bring my dog with me on the Beowulf trail?
  • 5 0
 Yup. Long ride but lots of water
  • 3 0
 @leelau: Do you have to pay to ride Beowulf or do I just have to ride fast like Tinker for 37 kms? By the way - rode the Predator connector over Thanksgiving. It's a bit of a roadride (and Ellison is no different), but I enjoy any ride as long as there is dirt/rock under the wheels
  • 6 0
 @deepcovedave: There will be a cost to ride Beowulf and I'll check as to price. It won't be close to the price of the SS bike park ticket. That's true that Ellison are mellow trails but they're definitely for families or beginners of for chill rides. There's the attraction of ending up close to the lake and being able to jump in; in summer anyhow
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