The riding on offer in the sea-to-sky is second to none. Riders from around the world will flock to the region for its glut of exceptionally shreddable trails. For anyone that’s ridden here, it’s clear why the irresistible web of singletrack, bike park, and alpine trails attracts hordes of riders like moths to a flame. Except the flame is not the end. It is the beginning—the beginning of a lifetime of endless shredding. A rider could spend a lifetime here shcralping every corner and tweaking every air. But, after a while, something happens. Riders get a call to a higher place. A place where the ride only begins when the trail ends on the horizon. That place is called the South Chilcotins.
People have been travelling through and exploring the region since the dawn of time. The days are big, and the chances of getting through them without something going sideways are nil.
So if you’ve heard this story before, I bet you’d like to hear it again. Because every trip to the Chilcotins serves up a big, delicious slice of “I don’t have a spare derailleur hanger” pie.
That’s why, if it’s your first time, it’s great to have a guide to show you around and inject toxic positivity into your oxygen-deprived blood, which was what we did. We partnered with Tyax Adventures, set ourselves up with a killer guide and went on a two-day heli-assisted ride to try and answer that higher calling.
The MTB community often looks at the South Chilcotins as a proving ground. A place where they can push their bikes, bodies, and brains to the edge (that is not what we did, by the way). We took a decidedly different approach. Instead, we opted to put the “Chill” in Chilcotins. There are so many epic vistas to take in along the route, and it would be a shame to miss them due to the abundance of black spots that tend to dominate one's vision in the throes of a foolish effort. And why should ginormous rides through this pristine landscape hog all the glory? Don’t get us wrong, we still covered a lot of ground and had our fair share of bonks, mechanicals, and inclement weather. There were highs and lows, but no one ever felt like they were getting sandbagged and couldn’t feel good about completing the ride. Thanks mainly to our guide, Ben, who artfully managed the ride and the vibe.
The Chilcotin range is as steeped with history as it is with gorgeous landscapes. While we caught our breath at the top of each pass, Ben calmly told us about the nations that travelled the region and pointed out features of the region’s complex geology. He told us how the indigenous people and horse packers carved these trails through meadows, along ridge tops, and across rivers and creeks. He pointed out beautiful mineral deposits in the shale slopes and trailside animal tracks.
We rode down Tyaughton Creek Trail and made our way past Bear Paw Camp, through creeks and over the crossing, on our way to Spruce lake.
We spent one night at the Spruce Camp, where a camp host welcomed us with snacks and libations. Not that we needed any assistance falling asleep, but the torrential rain beating on our tents served as the perfect lullaby and a buffer to block out the snoring from even the most ferocious of mouth breathers.
By the time we woke up, the rain had subsided. The clouds parted for a moment, revealing a sliver of blue sky and snowcapped mountain tops.
If we thought things looked epic up to this point, we were in for a new level of mind-blowing landscapes, punctuated with a push through High Trail’s snowy, fog ladened Windy Pass.
Aptly named, we quickly made our way off the pass and into our glorious 1500 m descent to the valley bottom. The singletrack back down to Tyaughton Lake quickly wiped away any memory of broken hangers, dodgy derailleurs, and frozen fingers.
It’s no surprise everyone who rides here returns year after year. The options for routes in the region are endless. We took a pretty relaxed approach to our journey and had an absolute belter of a time. Whether you’re out there to push the limits or your friends’ buttons while you push your bike up some very big hills, you’re guaranteed to have a trip that everyone will talk about for years.
Thank you to the Tyax Adventure team and our guide Ben for everything!
We would like to acknowledge that this ride took place in the unceded territory of the Tsilhqot'in, St'at'imc, and Secwepemc First Nations. We are grateful to be able to access these lands, trails, and routes.