Some geography and numbers about Yukon and Whitehorse before we start. The Yukon is a territory of Canada located north of sixty degrees latitude. About 35,000 people inhabit an area a little larger than the state of California (or 2x the size of the U.K.). The majority of Yukoner’s live in the Whitehorse area so there’s a lot of room to spread out.
More importantly Yukoners are very outdoorsy people. A city of 27,000 people has approximately 300 members in their bike club
. City of Whitehorse numbers show that approximately 3/4 of city residents use trails on a regular basis whether for hiking, biking, snowshoeing, ski-joring or running.
There are 700km of trails in the Whitehorse area; an insane amount given the size of the city. The City so recognizes the value of trails that it has had a dedicated paid trail maintenance crew for some years.
We were entertained by the Northern Lights this trip
Adding to this data the Yukon is not immune to the tendency of Canadians to volunteer time building and maintaining trails. There are a lot of people who are active and the quality and diversity of the trails show their hard work. This trail scene has been developing for over 20 years! You can show your appreciation for trails by checking out the Contagious Mountain Biking Club page
and donate to participate in trail love!
Finally, the very dry climate of the Whitehorse and Yukon area helps. Rolling hills, a near-desert climate (Whitehorse gets the least rain of any Canadian city). Soil that can handle moisture (glacial silt blowing in on westerly winds which carpets the ground has moisture absorbent qualities) all contribute to trail bed surfaces that are basically perfect for creating singletrack heaven.
Whitehorse is a 2 hour plane flight away north of Vancouver; a little more time then the drive on the Sea-to-Sky highway from YVR to Whistler. For all those who wish to visit Canada and think all there is Whistler and the Rockies, consider the Yukon. Our two hour flight on Air North
was effortless. It’s nice coming into the small airports, where you walk off the plane, into the terminal, get your luggage, car and leave within 30 minutes! We picked up our vehicle from Driving Force
which would be our transportation.
Whitehorse has two primary riding areas – Grey Mountain
and Mt Macintyre
. The riding is mostly of the trail and pedally variety with fast wide-open zoom zoom trails but with amazing sightlines. The trails include old mining access trails, hiking trails and recently built mountain-bike specific trails.
The riding season goes from May to October; the core of the riding season (June – August) has long daylight hours stretching well into the night. Temperatures tend to start dropping at night in September which means bugs are dead and you’ll be guaranteed vivid fall colours.
The Mt Mac biking area is just north of town. There are many trails here in the cross country ski area and its surrounds; more then can be depicted in one ride . This area also hosts Phat biking in the winter via a huge network of XC skiing trails
Today we sampled Mt Mac's alpine; riding from the city environs at 800m to 1400m where treeline drops away. This climb of 600m is by way of 4x4 and ATV trails so is easily accomplished. Trails ridden were Blown Away, Starbucks Revenge, Goat, & Kid Vicious.
We go up with distracting views.
Well signed network courtesy of City and YK territory grants and the auspices of the CMBC
Steve Reidles the Brit Expat, Whistler expat and now Whitehorse local leading out on Blown Away
Shar on Blown Away's descent
Cool Signage! The twisty turny Starbucks Revenge.
A short climb with massive views
The ridiculously loamy descent of Goat and Starbuck's Revenge - featuring two of the key builders (Anthony and Alex).
Kid Vicious is a newer more technical trail and the brainchild of Paul Burbidge.
Entry exam to the Kid can be dropped to flat if that's your thing
The next day the weather was more unsettled but we decided to ride another alpine trail but this time in the Grey Mountain area. Moneyshot is one of the older trails in the area and a tech fest dropping off Grey Mountain to the more enduro-goggle friendly zoom-zoom trails of the lower mountain. As with Mt Mac there are simply too many trails in Grey Mountain to profile so these photos show but the tip of the iceberg on this side of town.
Iceberg is perhaps an apt segue as a cold wet front rolled in. Temps were down to 4C at the top so it definitely had the Winter is Coming mantra. There are too many combinations to speak of in speaking of how to ride the trail system so either get a guide from Boreale Explorers
or try to find someone to ride with via the CMBC facebook page. Grey Mountain is 1450m with town at 600m so however you slice it there is ample elevation with which to play.
New and Old map of Grey Mountain. The system has been infilled over the past decade.
Photo from our ride in 2011 with Tony DeLorenzo and Starbuck the dog when we could see, we go up that ridge to the start of the trail.
Into the mist as we start our ride
Paul Burbidge is one of the most prolific Whitehorse builders - it's always a joy riding with him when we get into town
Sharon dropping into the mist
Over the top!
And down to the valley
_________________________________________________________________Where to Stay
While in Whitehorse we stayed at the Edgewater Hotel
right downtown. This hotel is centrally located, has great friendly service, new comfortable rooms with art from Local Indigenous Artists and an attached restaurant for Breakfast – Tonimoes
Our comfy, convenient accommodations while in Whitehorse.
Tonimoes also has a stellar Happy Hour with 50% off appies!