Video & Photo Story: The Making of Whistler's Dark Crystal Trail

Aug 18, 2021
by BoscheBikeSystems  

Legendary singletrack doesn’t just happen. It takes passion, vision, creativity, and a commitment to hands-in-the-dirt work that never ends. Whistler’s Dark Crystal trail and its builders are that story.

When it comes to singletrack gems, the world might not have a more bedazzled quarry than Whistler, British Columbia. Guarded by high alpine peaks and dark old-growth forest, the mystical location is home to over 1,000 kilometers of legendary mountain bike trail.

One ride stands out. Dark Crystal descends nearly 700 vertical meters through a moss-carpeted wonderland on Blackcomb Mountain. Built in 2015 by Scott Veach and Ben Haggar, it has become one of Whistler’s more iconic trails and as such, sees a lot of traffic. In keeping with its namesake—the 1982 cult animatronic fantasy film from Muppets creator Jim Henson—the legend of the Dark Crystal trail comes with both a blessing and a curse.

Scott Veach in Whistler BC



bigquotesWe wanted to make something fast and flowy, with no surprises.Scott Veach

"We wanted to make something fast and flowy, with no surprises," explains Veach, a web developer who relocated to Whistler from Santa Cruz, California, in 2014. “A trail where everything linked together as naturally as possible. One where you could just let it go.” There-in lies the blessing: Those riders who grind their way up seven kilometers of steep, unrelenting gravel road to the Dark Crystal trailhead now have a wickedly fun, wildly challenging descent between their bars. The curse? Through countless volunteer hours of trail maintenance, Veach has pledged to keep the original vision of the trail secure.

The trail, nearly three kilometers in length, travels through a variety of classic Whistler terrain, dropping exposed granite slabs and navigating technical roots and rocks, linked together by loamy berms and natural booters. It’s a jewel paid for by passion. Veach estimates that 2,400 hours of volunteer labor went into building this hallowed ribbon of dirt, and an additional 120 hours are required each year to maintain it. “I want people to enjoy their time on the trail, and I want to preserve that feeling of enjoyment. It’s not a pride thing, it’s more an experience thing. And I want that to be high-quality, not just for me but for everyone who rides it.”

So, for some 30 to 40 days a year, Veach puts on an 80-pound pack full of tools, jumps on his Trek Rail e-bike and in 30 minutes he’s at the trailhead—a crushing climb that used to take him well over an hour on his old mountain bike. “I call it the time machine,” chuckles the husband and father of two young girls. “It’s been a crucial tool in not only trail maintenance, but family maintenance as well.”

Next time you drop in on Dark Crystal, and all your focus goes into keeping the rubber side down, as you whiz through fluorescent green singletrack bliss, take a moment and pay homage to the forces that crafted this beauty, and the passion that keeps it gleaming.

More info about Bosch eBike Systems.

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach and Ben Haggar in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC


Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach and family in Whistler BC

Scott Veach and family in Whistler BC

Scott Veach and family in Whistler BC

Scott Veach and family in Whistler BC

Scott Veach and family in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC

Scott Veach in Whistler BC


Produced by Andrew Shandro
Directed and edited by Matt Miles
Additional cinematography by Scott Secco
Sound mix by Jason Chiodo
Writing by Mitchell Scott
Photography by Sterling Lorence

Posted In:
Videos eMTB Bosch



62 Comments

  • 36 0
 DC is one of my favorite trails ever. I got the opportunity to ride it early on when it was still super loamy. Unbelievably good and has evolved into a stellar trail. They do an amazing job in the Whistler Valley of building progressive trails. Thank you
  • 5 0
 Agreed, one of my favorites too. Amazing work, and standing up extremely well.
  • 4 0
 Same... The trail is fantastic as it is now but those early on laps on it when it was still loamy were just magical. Big thanks to (all) the builders!
  • 2 0
 100%. I think about this trail and the experience it provides all the time. It's epic! Thanks for your dedication builders!
  • 5 0
 Same. Before it became public knowledge. Trail perfection.
  • 5 0
 Loam (/lōm/): a soil with roughly equal proportions of sand, silt, and clay.
  • 1 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: Are you implying loam is not the correct word?
  • 7 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: Apologies, I had the opportunity to ride it before it was a hardpacked trail when it was covered in decomposed organic matter such as tree bark and pine needles that provided a similar feeling to powder skiing Smile
  • 4 0
 @simcik: The decomposed organic matter that most people refer to as loam is actually duff...I think.
  • 2 0
 @gb8561: thats probably accurate. @TEAM-ROBOT would you mind clarifying?
  • 5 0
 @simcik: The problem is that loamer sounds better than duffer...
  • 3 0
 @simcik: Yes, loam is dirt. Dirt is loam. Dirt Merchant is made of dirt, which is to say Dirt Merchant is a loamer. When you and the rest of the lucky few were done skidding all of the decomposed organic matter, tree bark, and pine needles off the newly-constructed Dark Crystal, what was left underneath was... wait for it... loam.
  • 1 0
 @simcik: A few of us were lucky enough to do so. It is a memorable experience!
  • 38 7
 Is this just a cleverly crafted e-bike ad?

"The time machine"
  • 17 0
 posted by BoscheBikeSystems so literally yea. Although an ebike as part of a trailbuilders arsenal is such a sick concept I hadn't considered so I'm all for it. Hopefully Bosche gave Veach a decent discount on that thing!
  • 19 0
 Not an ebike fan at all, but its hard to argue against the notion that time is only true currency in our short lives. If more miles equals more smiles, what are you gonna do?
  • 6 2
 Ebikes for trail building are a good thing, still not convinced beyond that
  • 6 2
 Am I the only one sick of a storytelling video about an iconic trail just turned into an ad for an ebike? I mean, I get how the world works I do alot with media as well, but that was an ebike commercial.
  • 16 0
 So thankful for people like this, who dedicate themselves, for the love of the sport and the love of others, and put this kind of time and energy into making mountain biking so awesome for everyone!
  • 12 0
 Also takes a community and land owners that dont seem to care what you build. BC seems to have the most lax rules regarding it that I have come across. Maybe I am wrong there and I am sure there is some red tape but no where else in the world do you have that many high level, technical trails with huge features, outside of bike parks, that are just dug by locals without them getting torn down the next week. Props to Veach for all the hard work and dedication to this. None of this would be possible without people like him picking up shovels day after day.
  • 2 1
 @dolface: could be true. But to my knowledge, most of those trails up there are legal, they just allow insane stuff to get built. The whole community and area has rallied around mtb and that level of mtb. Those that get dug illegally also just get adopted as legal eventually.
  • 8 1
 I could (and have written in piece meal) articles about why BC has been the epicentre of trailwork since the inception of biking. Putting a coherent piece together however would be a lot of work and frankly, technical and of almost zero interest to the vast majority of Pinkbike readers.

I'll post links to some odd articles later if there's interest. You may also find some old pieces I wrote for PB in my profile when editors were more interested in advocacy pieces
  • 2 1
 @dolface: the article you linked is good. In particular read Owen's comments
  • 3 0
 @leelau: I rode with Scott back in 2015 and his plan was build it and they'll make it legal. I believe that's how most of the valley trails came about.

Seb Kemp wrote a few pieces a good few years ago how they came about.
  • 3 0
 @Heckles: agreed
  • 6 0
 @leelau: no you should absolutely continue this. who cares if it's incoherent at first, it would become coherent once pieces are added. it would appeal to more readers than you think and more importantly create a historic tablet.

speaking more broadly the economic impacts of this type of recreation generated from trail building is still not widely recognized in Canada. slowly we are showing that trails and things like pump tracks are overtaking traditional field sports etc. but opening the eyes of local government and the old boys is still difficult.

build your piece!
  • 2 0
 @leelau: great piece here (you probably know about): 2flat.net/2012/11/05/whistler-an-alternative-history
  • 2 0
 @Heckles: yup - i contributed some of the background on that. It was well- written. Seb also did one for the history of the Shore and also put in some stuff and background from myself and many others.
  • 1 0
 @leelau: Please do so. Open game on PNW Mountain Bikers. Advocacy is #2, second only behind the passion and joy of what we do on two wheels in the first place.

I'm thankful to have been able to cut my teeth on BC trails. It could only be better if one lived in Vancouver or nearby.

- Aaron
  • 1 0
 I feel the same way. It's like BC is the wild west of trails and the rest of us all have to deal with the fun police. Canadians have trail building in their blood. Keep up the great work hosers Smile
  • 9 2
 trail builders truly are the heart and soul of our sport. before my boyfriend started going hard at building again, i had NO idea what went into trails and features. the time, effort and money. pro tips: always respect builder pleas, closures and leave the trails as you find them, don't braid their efforts. also, they would never be unhappy to find a six pack or tall boy hidden under one of their buckets. hopefully i can get to ride DC one of these days! thank you for the work, as always!
  • 5 0
 The best thing about builders like Scott, is they recognize that you can't just build a trail and leave it deteriorate or to others to maintain. If you commit to adding a line to the forest, make sure it's a good line, and make sure you're going to be committed to it long-term. You never know if you may be building the next DC and 300 riders/day on weekends in peak season means that trail is gonna' need alot of love and a legacy of stewardship.
  • 4 0
 Was given the nudge by a certain Chris Ball, you need to ride Dark Crystal when you are here was the call. What a trail, loved it from start to finish, living in Tweed Valley sets the ball high, but this one went into the stratosphere
  • 2 0
 Good ole Bawbag, certainly knows a thing or three
  • 4 0
 i had to chuckle that they took photos of him on a suspension bridge with all of his tools that's nowhere near the trail at all =D

one of my favourites and i am definitely blessed that i get to ride it more than once every single summer!
  • 2 0
 Labor of love that becomes an obsession!
When you cant stop thinking about how much better trail would be by changing bits of the trail
But do not even started digging unless your waking up in middle of the night, with clear idea of what will work?
Once started you must also want to finish like your life depends on it!
But all this comes with experience, so best to try out lines to the sides of worn line & see if main line changes?
Also be aware how erosion & drainage will be effected!
  • 2 0
 well done! great video and images. looks like a fun trail. wish more riders would join in and appreciate the dig aspect of biking. truly no dig no ride...... kudos to the builders out there. it aint easy.
  • 3 0
 Beautiful photos!! You have really captured the beauty of the area that I call home. As for WORCA, the trail fairies are the real heroes. Thank you for all that you do.
  • 5 0
 How do you write this article and not tell us where to Venmo beer money?
  • 4 0
 Maybe here? www.worca.com
  • 7 0
 Great question! Most of the Blackcomb pubs have a Dark Crystal tab! Thank you.
  • 3 0
 Top 5trails of all time. I’ve ridden in Europe and Australia and North America. Not a ton of places but spectacular trail. Good job sir.
  • 2 0
 What a great trail!
And the end is only metres from the Yummy Numby climb so the last 3 times I've done DC (2017,18&19), I've continued on to the descent of Comfortably Numb. You just have to...
  • 2 0
 Good to see you out there building sick trails Scott! It was always fun building with you back here at home in Santa Cruz. I remember when you were all about the Rouge Hoes and kept breaking them! LOL! Rip it!
  • 3 0
 F*$k yes Scott ... Stoked to see you getting some recognition for all your hard work !! Legendary dude and builds a legendary trail
  • 2 0
 You know what's up!
  • 4 1
 Such a good trail. Such superb trailwork. We're pretty lucky to be able to create such forest art in BC. Props to Scott Veach and Ben Haggar on this gem
  • 2 0
 Brilliant! Every so often I ride a trail I never want to end. This is one of those trails! Massive respect to Scott and Ben!!!
  • 1 0
 Thank you Scott profoundly! Year 1 was something of a lifetime memory maker. Now DC is harder, more challenging and has you more on your toes and you dance down through the trees. We all appreciate your hard work!
  • 4 1
 Come to Cali if you get bored... Smile
  • 3 0
 Fantastic work Scott. glad to see you are still digging!
  • 2 0
 Cheers buddy, you got to see my earliest days of finding my way into building trails. Glad to hear some of the legacy I've left in Santa Cruz is being taken care of and still enjoyed!
  • 2 0
 Road DC for the first time this year... Won't lie its a special piece of single track
  • 2 0
 Thank you, thank you and thank you! One of the best trails in Whistler. Loam or no loam. Still amazing.
  • 2 0
 One of the best trails I have ever ridden. Deep gratitude to the builders.
  • 2 0
 I love this trail so much.
  • 2 0
 Incredible trail and effort. Great storytelling. On the list...
  • 1 0
 Thank you trail builders and maintainers for this fantastic experience etched into mind. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
  • 1 0
 No interpretive dance? WTF pinkbike…
  • 1 0
 Don't remember much about the trail the climb up still very vivid
  • 2 5
 patagucci making work shirts now?

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2021. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.011906
Mobile Version of Website