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Video: Backcountry Biking in British Columbia's Photogenic South Chilcotin Mountains

May 4, 2022 at 11:26
by Michael Fox  
Views: 4,048    Faves: 21    Comments: 0


On the Eastern flank of British Columbia's great Pacific Coast Range, sits a high inland plateau, a place where the valleys widen, and the glaciers end.

This vast and wild country is woven together by a patchwork of old trails, ancient trade routes and game paths, worn in over centuries.

Each summer, adventurous mountain bikers ride these trails, following them as they wend down valleys, thread through high alpine passes, and as they lead to ancient peaks of granite and basalt, richly-coloured in a tapestry of red, purple, and gold.

For those bikers who seek the pure experience of real wilderness riding, this place is paradise.

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Following Tyaughton Creek Trail Northwest Towards Elbow Pass

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The Magnificent View Westward from Elbow Pass

If you haven't done so already, put the Deer Pass Trail on your bucket list. It is a slog to get up, but the view from the top is surreal. To the North is an endless sweep of red- and gold-coloured peaks. To the South are the jagged and glaciated peaks of the Coast Range. You will literally ride the divide at the confluence of two vast wildernesses, shaped by inconceivable forces over countless eons of time. The descent is one of the most photogenic in the Chilcotins (and that's saying a lot).

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The Photogenic Deer Pass Decent

After several hundred vertical meters of white-knuckle descending, you come to an abrupt stop at a three-way intersection with Gun Creek Trail. This is a good place to have a snack and let the lactic acid dissipate out of your arms.

When you're ready to start riding again, take a left at the three-way junction. After some pedalling, you'll reach Hummingbird Lake, a crystalline blue lake at the base of a bright red rock slope. Continue to follow the trail south as it winds past Trigger Lake, through forested slopes, then through grasslands, and eventually into your second night's camp at Spruce Lake.

You'll no doubt sleep soundly after such a big day. You'll need it, because there's one more demanding day ahead of you.

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Sleeping Under the Stars at Spruce Lake

There are three routes back to Tyax Lodge from Spruce Lake, each with its own appeal. The fastest and flowiest route is Gun Creek Trail. It starts out in the sub-alpine just south of Spruce Lake, has great views of the Dickson Range, and descends through lovely forests of spruce and birch. If you like speed, you'll like this trail.

The other option is to pedal and push your way up to the aptly-named Windy Pass and then onto Eldorado Pass, at which point you'll take a hard right and gain some elevation as you head for the famed “Ridge-O-Rama” trail. Stunning views and endless ridge riding (spiced up with some exposure) make this a route that will not disappoint.

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Ascending Towards Camel Pass

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Nearing the Top of Ridge-O-Rama

If you want to check out Windy Pass and Eldorado Pass but are too exhausted to do yet more pushing (or if you're not a fan of exposure) then the third option is to bail out via the Taylor Creek Road. This is a pretty easy out, but it's an uninteresting ride mostly on an old mining road and doesn't compare to Gun Creek or Ridge-O-Rama. If you do make it all the way to Eldorado Pass, you should try to dig deep and summon the strength and nerve for Ridge-O-Rama; it's well-worth the effort!

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The Absolutely Epic Ridge-O-Rama Trail

At the end of your epic journey, you'll find yourself back at Tyax Lodge where (if you're smart) you will have booked yourself a room for the night. Shower, eat, drink, and be merry. Tomorrow you'll hit the road for the nerve-rattling drive back to civilization.

The trails you just rode did more than traverse the landscape, they led back through time. The indigenous peoples and old prospectors who wore in those trails so many hundreds of years ago would have seen the same vistas, crossed through the same passes, and made camp for the night at the same spots. They would have known the harsh and unforgiving nature of the land, and also the awe and reverence that this place inspires.

The South Chilcotins are remote and untamed. As the centuries tick by, this place will always beckon those with wild hearts, who search out exploration, adventure, and freedom.

Author Info:
callofthewildphotos avatar

Member since Jun 9, 2015
3 articles

17 Comments
  • 9 3
 Loved my chilcotin tyax adventure but I'd suggest to skip Tyax lodge at the end. We weren't impressed. No air conditioning in the rooms (which was rough during last summer's heatwave) and food at the restaurant was overpriced and mediocre at best. The food that gets up to the mountain huts by pack-horses is 1000x better. At the end of a multi day bike trip you want to gorge yourself on some comfort food and we were disappointed. Plus they don't offer breakfast, which made zero sense. They sold us a coffee, some costco granola bars, and yogurt for like $28. I'd do a chilcotin ride again but wouldn't stay at Tyax a second time. Bring your own food and stay at Gold Dust Motel in Gold Bridge.
  • 1 0
 Thank you
  • 4 1
 Song choice was so good. I can't stand country music, so I was surprised at how much I liked it.

(The filming/editing was gorgeous)
  • 3 0
 Technically, it's a cover of The Who- Baba O'Riley. Hardly recognizable though.
  • 2 0
 @fielding: I knew it was Baba O'Riley right away. My first thought was, "Uh-oh, they country-fied it." But then they crushed it. So good.
  • 1 0
 Lil more bluegrassy than country. Sick vid btw
  • 1 0
 @weezyb: def Blue Grass not country
  • 2 0
 That's my boys The Ghost of Paul Revere! Great group of acoustic rockers from Portland, ME. They put on an awesome live show
  • 3 0
 thanks so much for the stoke , heading up there this summer , set the scene nicely
  • 1 0
 If you can manage the money take the flight to Lorna lake and ride back from there. Not because it's easier but because it's an amazing float plane ride. I've had the fortune of a fair number of small plane rides in the BC/Yukon mountains and that one is right up there for best ever. You're in the drone, not watching the drone footage!
  • 1 0
 @goffboy: thanks for tip ,
Was doing Warner lake by plane , but open to options … who would you advise for flights ??
  • 3 0
 Great cinematic shots!
  • 1 0
 What's the best time of year for riding in the mountains there, July/August?
  • 1 1
 before fire season. After June you're fooked
  • 1 0
 late summer/early September is typically really nice. flowers out earlier in the summer, later in the season the vegetation dies down a bit, stream crossings are generally lower
  • 1 0
 Nicely done, it's a beautiful area for sure.
  • 1 0
 I didn't see any camping equipment







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