If you were to comprise a list of Ontario mountain bike destinations worthy of a multi-day visit (yeah sure there is a handful of places where you can mix single track with cottage country) the top of that list would have to be Collingwood, Ontario. Nowhere else can you bomb downhill trails all day, disappear into forest single track for hours, hit the beach, partake in a staggering number of outdoor activities from zip lining to offload Segway then party the night away. Sleep, ride, party, repeat sounds about perfect.
I must admit this is not a far-flung escape for us. We have made this two-hour jaunt north on a number of occasions but it always has been of the day trip variety. With the National Enduro series making its Ontario debut, this is a good time to mix some racing with pleasure and test the theory that memorable experiences don't have to be far away.Blue Mountain Resort
Taking its lead from west coast cousin, Whistler, the village at Blue has developed a reputation as the party place to be. This is instantly evident as the car door swings open. It’s Samba festival weekend and the Latin beat goes straight to your hips, the energy is electric and the plug won’t be pulled till late into the night.
We’re not here for the dancing, it’s what’s above the village that has our interest. Blue Mountain Bike Park has been doing downhill mountain biking right for more than a decade. With seventeen lift access trails that range from green to double black diamond, there is something for everyone. Unfortunately, Mother Nature has been playing havoc with the area’s clay based soil. More rain than sun means some of the tougher trails are closed. First things first, lift pass, maps, waivers, and it’s time to play.
Things are a bit quieter on a Monday morning
It doesn't take long to put smiles on our faces. We hit the cluster of blue trails on the far end of the resort. The Ridge, Raisin Run, Fresh Air; instant confidence boosters, Embryo; wicked fun. Next are the jump runs, well actually next is the assessment. Before you are allowed to jump you need to prove you know how. With our extra bike park credentials, we hit Haole: jumps, drops, wooden features—awesome. H2O is a double black jump run and it’s a definite step up from Haole and its fun factor goes up with speed and commitment. With practice for the enduro race in progress, we are able to try a couple of the tougher runs that would be typically closed in these wet conditions. Grab Bag and Waterfall, yeah, steep lines and wet clay—you can imagine how that went.
There is no better way to compliment an experience than trying to make it last as long as possible. We rushed down before the lift closed so you can squeeze in one more run; good times Blue Mountain, thanks.
No bike no problem, these guys can set you up with all the gear you need.
Today’s crop of all mountain enduro bikes are perfectly capable of handling what Blue has to offer, but these are downhill trails built with downhill bikes in mind and there is something to be said for having the right tool for the job so if you want to maximize the fun, the rental fleet is pretty sweet. Day Two – Three-Stage
Fifteen minutes from town you will find some of the best singletrack in the province. Three Stage is a maze of trails straddling the side the Niagara Escarpment. With 257 meters in elevation from top to bottom getting down is fun, getting back is long. I will admit that every time I ride here I get lost. Not lost in a forever way, but lost enough that by the time I find my way back to the car I’m dragging my ass near exhaustion. I know that a challenging time makes for good memories but I would rather finish the ride with a smile, so we acquired the services of local guide, Tim Carter from Rideguides to show us around. With navigation a non-issue, it’s not to say the ride wasn't without challenges as mother nature once again thought we were in need of a shower. We ended the ride wet and muddied but smiling.Day Three – Kolapore Highlands
Another local spider web of trails offering all that a mountain biker desires, root, rock, mud, and solitude. This area is a popular winter ski touring destination so here you will find signage to point you in the right direction and there is even a map that you can purchase at the Country Market in Ravenna, the Kimberley General Store, and various bike shops in Collingwood. Proceeds from map sales support these trails.Beyond the Trail
As outdoor adventure towns go, Collingwood has it going on. From beach front to mountain top. Whatever your outdoor pleasure, bike, climb, ski or paddle there something here for you. Add to that accommodation, from camping on up that can fit all budgets, good food and a hopping nightlife, it’s an outdoor playground with perks.
Winery, cidery, brewery and a distillery looks like the area has the party covered.
What About The Race You Ask?
Who needs a spa when you can have this after a day's ride.
Finally, a proper enduro for Ontarian's to get their race on. Mother Nature wasn't too kind with all the rain and the most in demand tool was a stick to get the mud out of cleats and tires. The race went off without a hitch and it was smiles all around. Hopefully a first of many races to come.
The pro women all smiles, all the time.
The faster half of the Mountain Bike Tourist team scored a third place finish in the U21 men, well done Preston.
Three days, two hours from home. Day trips might be fine but there is nothing better than full immersion. As perhaps Ontario’s only all-encompassing mountain biking destination, Collingwood delivers and proved once and for all memorable experiences don't have to be far away.
Special thanks to RSD Bikes
, Blue Mountain Resort
, BruceGreySimcoe Tourism
for the assistance in making this adventure happen.