Bikepacking Across BC's Rossland Range in a Weekend

Jul 25, 2018 at 13:57
by Patrick Logan  


“It’ll be fun and we can do it in two days no problem.” That’s what I told my friend Paul who was taking a week off work to come out west and ride. He called me up from my cabin while I was on lunch break and was saying that we should ride the Sevens Summits (Rossland’s IMBA Epic Trail, not Everest, Aconcagua, Denali etc.) while he was out, then we could head to where I live in Nelson and ride after work. I had other ideas though. I had been eyeing up a 2 day bikepacking route that would take us over the Seven Summits trail, then down into the valley between Rossland and my family cabin at Christina Lake where Paul was sitting while I pitched this idea, up a dirt road to the top of the mountain range that parallels the Seven Summits, then down a 1300m descent on freshly maintained singletrack bliss before finishing off with 10km of highway then 10km of lake-side cross country riding to the north end of Christina Lake. He was in. The only condition was that we leave late the first day so we could finish early the third day.

I believed this route was/is bikepacking gold. In my opinion, most bikepacking routes are just long gravel grinds. I’m not trying to put those rides down though, they just aren’t for me. Plenty of them have little to no singletrack and follow forest service roads through the bush. As a true mountain cyclist, I do not find I enjoy riding on a dirt road that much when I know there are berms out there that need brapping. This route only takes two days so you can pack light and brap those berms, and it has plenty of loamy and alpine singletrack. That’s why this route I had planned had me pumped. In the end, the route was better than I thought and had a lot more climbing than I thought. We rode 105km with 2965 meters of climbing.

You'd think we would have everything prepared and packed but like most good adventures, we only decided we were going 48hrs before.

I even had to use the half hour car ride to the trailhead to finish my framebag.

The weapons of choice. 27.5+ 120mm Rocky Mountain Growler and the 140mm Rocky Mountain Instinct.

We planned to set off on the first climb on the Seven Summits Tuesday night around 7-8pm. I got off work at 5 and needed to drive to Christina Lake to pick up Paul and then drive to the trailhead. I got to Christina Lake around 7 and we set off on the first climb around 9 (We don’t have the strongest time management skills). Behind schedule but ahead on stoke levels we slapped on our bike lights and set off to our first camp at 2200 meters on top of Mt. Plewman, the highest of the Seven Summits (again, not Everest, Denali etc.) It was a little windy but that worked in our favour as around 4 in the morning when the wind died down the swarm of mosquitoes came and ate us alive while we "slept" in our emergency bivy sacks that we opted to use instead of a tent.

Originally we planned to leave with some daylight. Didn't work out.

I got out of my bivy sack long enough to take one shaky photo of the 4:30 am sunrise before being eaten by 20 mosquitoes since the wind had gone.

If any of you haven’t heard of the Seven Summits you really need to do some research. It is a 29km piece of alpine and sub-alpine singletrack that winds it ways up down and around 7 summits of the Rossland range. It’s also not just some cross country ride. This is real all mountain riding with 3 main descents that are true black diamonds that you could expect to ride at any trail center. It is well worth a trip to Rossland to ride. The final descent can be combined with the Dewdney trail for an epic 1300 meter descent (4300ft, all conversions from here on must be done by yourself. Get with the system) that winds from alpine into old growth forest down to the highway. In our case though we needed to turn east instead of west. We had planned to ride a trail known as Sheep Creek on Trailforks which would have made for a potentially even longer singletrack descent had it not been for 4 trees down in 100ft of overgrown trail that swayed us to decide to ride the road down into the valley. There is a chance we missed out but we didn’t want to risk hauling our bikes over logs with limited time.

Who needs coffee when you wake up to a pristine alpine descent?

Flying through alpine with Rossland's famous Old Glory Mt. in the background.

There is no reliable source of water on the Seven Summits so we took any opportunity to refill.

Climbing up to Rossland's Red Mountain Resort. Even though there is no bikepark here there are some sweet trails on the mountain. If you're ever in town check out Paydirt and Redtop.

Paul checking Tinder before we were out of cell service.

With the area being hit by a recent heat wave the trail was super fun and dusty.

After the final descent on the Seven Summits, we dropped in on the Old Cascade Highway to the valley bottom. Lucky for us there was an awesome creek to rest at. We had our siesta here to avoid climbing up 950 meters of road in toasty 32֯ weather. We lucked out with the creek as well since it turned out there is a perfectly sized pool to swim in and cool off while we took our 2-hour break. Once we regained the motivation to ride we strapped out backpacks to our bars and took our shirts off and set out to grind out the least fun portion of this trip. The big gravel climb. Luckily though, this gravel road is the perfect road for riding up. It had a gentle grade, was freshly grated and was almost entirely shaded. This part of the ride was type 3 fun but well worth it for what we had in store for the next day.

The Old Cascade highway is the perfect thing after riding the Seven Summits. You coast down for what feels like forever with the wind cooling you off in the heat. Just don't get squashed by a logging truck.

We were surprised to see some farms down here.

The largest fauna we saw on the ride.

Big Sheep Creek. Perfect spot for lunch and a nap.

The foot soak felt great.

Make sure you bring a water filter since your bound to catch something from either this guy or my feet.

Now for the grind. Bikepacking pro tip: Strap your backpack to your handlebar and take your shirt off for long FSR climbs.

We started the route at night so we could finish by the afternoon on the third day. If you wanted to do this on a weekend I would start early on the Seven Summits and camp here which was part way up the Old Cascade Highway Climb.

The only other biker we saw. Although he had a motor.

We made it to the top in a reasonable amount of time. It was a grind though and we were toast.

Day 3 was here and it would be the most fun day of them all. We had less than a hundred meters of climbing before our biggest singletrack descent of the trip. Christina Lakes Double Dewdney. Now Christina Lake is not a riding destination. They have a relatively small trail network with basically all of their trails being shuttle only due to the long forest service roads to access trailheads. There trails also have had the reputation of being “Old School”. Tighter, narrow, sharp corners and steep. Recently though the owner of Wildways, the Local Bike shop and Kayak/Paddleboard store, Josh Strzelec and his group of local riders and volunteers have been putting in a lot of effort to change this. It has been a real struggle for him since Christina Lake gets pennies to pay for trail maintenance and construction when compared to other places in the West Kootenay like Rossland and Nelson, but his hard work is paying off for sure. Christina Lakes Upper and Lower Dewdney (when ridden together it’s known locally as the Double Dewdney) turned out to be the highlight of the trip. The Double Dewdney is over 1200 meters of descent over 11km and when we rode it there wasn’t a single tree down. The whole trail is hand built and maintained by the dedicated locals and trail builders. It is an amazing blue tech trail that goes from true old-school tech at the top to a flowier modern blue lower down. The best part? The bottom of the trail is less than a 2 minute all downhill ride to a sandy beach next to what is known as the warmest tree-lined lake in B.C (think swimming pool warm, perfect temperature)

Paul hooning around on the dusty dirt.

Every once and a while the forest would open up and you would ride through a heat wave.

Primo loam.

We didn't see a single rotten wood feature.

Even the optional skinnies were good to go.

The Lower Dewdney has lots of hairpins. Be careful or you'll end up sending it deep into nothingness.

Wallrides are always a good time. Even on a loaded up 50lb hardtail.

If your ever in Christina Lake stop into Wildways and thank Josh for the trails. Sorry, my camera wouldn't focus on you!

After lunch and a very well earned beer, we hit the highway for a short ride to the last trail of the trip, Deer Point. Deer point trail is 10km of undulating cross country singletrack with lots of berries, good views, and some serious exposure. This trail is one of my favourites. It is not overly challenging and the views up and down the lake are hard to beat. It also ends at the north end of the lake beside Sandner Creek in a west coast like old growth forest where they used to log back in the pioneer days of Christina Lake. The only downside to ending here is you either have to boat-hitchhike back to the marina or call for the marinas water taxi. It is well worth the ride though.

We stopped for a beer and food at the Christina Lake Visitor center before...

Taking a dip to cool off at the marina on the way to Deerpoint.

The views off Deerpoint are worth the ride alone.

Deerpoint is on provincial parkland so the government maintains it. We did have a few down trees and the ferns were getting close to the trail but it was in good condition overall.

There is some serious exposure on Deerpoint. Don't look down no fall zone exposure.

The trail ends in a west coast style old growth forest with some cedars 4ft and up in diameter. This is a great out and back trail in the fall since you can still swim in the lake and watch salmon spawn in Sadner Creek.

There is also a sandy beach. Perfect for a post 100km ride.

We lucked out and were able to convince some friends to pick us up. Shout out to them for staying an extra hour past our ETA.

The ride was over. 2ish days of biking and we were finished. We rode some of the best trails in the Kootenays and explored a new area we had never been. We also learned a few things about our setup. Chamois butter would be a good investment, don't forget to bring a plus size tube (lucky we didn't flat), prepare your gear before-hand if you have time, consider buying a better bivy sack that mosquitoes can't bite through. If you are wanting to ride this route let me know if you have any questions. I would recommend you start early on the Seven Summits and ride as much of the Old Cascade highway as you can. This is a challenging route because of the amount of climbing. Pack light and fast. Think small, mini stove or make a campfire, bivy sack and no sleeping bag or maybe a light tent and light sleeping bag, dehydrated food etc. After 105km and just shy of 3000m of climbing we were done.

My last article (Shred-Ventures on the Cheap) I saw some people were discouraged from trying bikepacking not by money but by time. That's one thing that really motivated me to make this route and show people what you can accomplish with a weekend. Really the only thing that stops most people from getting out and trying something new like bikepacking is themselves. Out of however many months of the year you are bound to have at least a couple days to get on your bike and go bikepacking (or just shred singletrack)

If you try this route and find yourself suffering, be happy your not the duck in this photo.

Thanks to Rocky Mountain bikes for their support and to the Christina Lake and Rossland riders for keeping their trails in primo condition. Follow me on Instagram @Gravity_Candy for more photos.


41 Comments

  • 13 0
 Thank you for sharing Patrick, this must make for a great adventure! Must go ride it!
  • 2 0
 Thanks for sharing patrick
  • 5 0
 Yeah boys shreddin’ the big epic! That Backside Dewdney (Sheep Creek) could definitely use some love good call takin the road. Throughly enjoyed the write up Patrick!
  • 1 0
 We just rode the Christina Lake area and was fortunate to have shuttle access and guide from Josh at Wildways. We rode Dewdney and had an absolute blast! An amazing trail cared for by a passionate crew. Can't wait to go back there.
  • 4 0
 The Double Dewdney sound very interesting
  • 2 0
 You should check it out. Wildways does a shuttle up there once in a while or if you had a group they would probably take you up there. The more people that ride Christina lake the more money Josh can get for the trails.
  • 1 0
 @GravityCandy: thank. It'd be worthwhile even just to support a cool shop and the Christina Lake trails
  • 1 0
 Christina Lake is an amazing place to ride if you can put a shuttle plan together! Borris, Spooner, Dewdney, and some of the northern stuff are all super fun. That area is a favorite for sure!
  • 1 0
 I agree man, I rode there a couple years ago couple the trials were mint. Borris is a pretty rowdy trail. Rode it in a open face on my trail bike not going to forget about that one
  • 1 0
 So glad the Wildways crew is doing something out there. They should connect with the bike shop in Grand Forks to connect the two areas. It would be a massive draw to get both areas going. It's gorgeous out there.
  • 1 0
 That was when I found out that Canadian Black diamonds are way gnarlier than ours! Rossland rules and Christina lake was Ice cold when I was there. Downtown Rossland was cool.
  • 1 0
 If you want even gnarlier check out Nelson next time your in Canada. Most of the blues are normal BC blacks and one of Kurt Sorge’s massive jump line is rated as a black even with a 10-15ft gap to the nearest corner of the landing on a 90 degree hip.
  • 1 0
 @GravityCandy: Whistler is next, then maybe Fernie or Rossland.
  • 2 0
 So you started in Christina lake and did 7 summits into rossland then back? Do you have a map of your route?
  • 1 0
 You have it backwards and we only went one way. We dis the Seven Summits the rode to Chrostina lake. I tried to make a Trailforks route but since Rossland and Christina lake are two different regions I couldn’t draw the route past an invisible border.
  • 2 1
 Also I’m not sure if the route is rideable right now due to a forest fire in the area.
  • 3 0
 @GravityCandy: ok, i misinterpreted where you went to christina lake, then the trail head at the beginning of the write-up. It would be cool if you could gps it and make a new route on trail forks. that sounds like fun! until this point, i haven't been very interested in bikepacking. This kind of stuff I love. Going across ranges and finding ways to link up areas no done before.
  • 1 0
 I’ll definitely do my best to figure out how to make it a route. Also if you liked this route just wait until this my fall plans. Scree free riding and previously unridden (as far as I know) alpine singletrack in some amazing mountains with good fly fishing. All of it is off limits to atvs and motos now. @makripper:
  • 1 0
 @kwl1: someone has to add the route. Trail forks needs the data :p I wish it was so easy hah
  • 3 0
 One day.......
  • 1 0
 Yep, I know riders who have done it all in one day. Rossland has an epic trail system in general, and its well worth making the trip to check it out.
  • 1 1
 Yeah Rossland has some amazing trails. Probably in my top 3 for places to bike in all of BC. Fernie is another place to check iut if you like Rossland. Very similar style of trails.@Thustlewhumber:
  • 1 0
 Sweet adventure, all the better that you guys were riding rockys. May have to check out a section or two of that this year.
  • 1 0
 Awesome right up!! I've been looking for some 2-3 day trips just like this!
  • 1 0
 Rode those trails a few years ago. Good times! Way to put it together! I need to go overnighting on the bike.
  • 1 0
 now that's an adventure!
That hard tail is a kick-ass!
Thanks for sharing Wink
  • 1 0
 Hey guys! Awesome article, really enjoyed it. Quick question:- does the saddle bag work with a dropper post?
  • 1 0
 Yes. I padded it with underwear though. I wrapped it around the part where the drynag closes in order to prevent any rub from the rubber drybag. I could only use half travel though. Nit because of the dropper but if I bottomed I would buzz the seat bag. You can also buy dropper specific seat bags.
  • 1 0
 Looks like it was a cool adventure!
  • 1 0
 Amazing. Is anyone aware of similar routes in the French
Alps?
  • 1 0
 Theres another Rocky Mountain ambassador who has done stuff way longer than this in the Alps. I cant remember his full name but if you go tonthe ambassador page in Rocky’s website his first name is Tito. You can probably find out more from there.
  • 1 0
 @GravityCandy: thanks for the tip, I will check it out. I know of routes like Chamonix to Zermatt but it takes something like a week, 2-3 days would be a good start for something of that kind.
  • 1 0
 I would recommend some lightweight hammock for next trip
  • 1 0
 Damn you guys are brave it’s been so flipping hot out recently
  • 1 0
 Nice trip fellas, thanks for sharing.
  • 1 0
 awesome!
  • 1 0
 Nice!!!
  • 1 0
 ye boys
  • 1 0
 Excellent

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