Have you ridden in Rossland yet? A question I now frequently ask riders touring British Columbia since spending a week there riding and documenting the trail network for bikepirate a few weeks back. Known for its IMBA epic x-country ride, the Seven Summits, and the well maintained and super buff trail network, Rossland is worthy of being added to a rider’s bucket list of places to mountain bike. It’s not just all about the x-country riding either. Rossland has an active downhill/freeride community who have built a large network of shuttle trails located in and around town. Most trails are maintained by a full-time trail crew and volunteers (Kootenay Columbia Trails Society) , ensuring they stay in tip top shape. The community as a whole is working hard to promote their network of trails and if you’re after a map to help with trip planning, just drop Tourism Rossland a line to have a complimentary copy sent right to your door.
The week of July 29 I loaded up my all-mountain and downhill bikes into my trusty 1997 Ford Explorer, also referred to as Granny, and set-out on my trip to explore the trails of Rossland. July to September are the perfect months to visit this quaint little town located in southern British Columbia. Built in an ancient volcanic valley deep in the Monashee Mountains in the Kootenay Rockies region, Rossland with a population of 3,278 is a mountain biker’s delight. Not to mention it holds many outdoor recreational opportunities for those members of your family not so much into the riding. Hiking, cross-county skiing, downhill skiing and snowboarding, cat-skiing, golfing and more is what one will find in abundance during their visit. Depending on where you’re coming from, driving times will vary. For me it was a nine hour scenic drive from Whistler. And for my friend Pat driving in from Canmore, it took about seven hours. Rossland is served by five airports, including the Canadian Rockies International Airport near Cranbrook (3.5 hour drive), Kelowna International Airport (3.5 hour drive), Trail Regional Airport (15-minute drive), West Kootenay Regional Airport in Castlegar (30-minute drive) as well as Spokane International Airport in Washington (2.5 hour drive).There are daily flights from Vancouver and Calgary (via Air Canada Jazz) into West Kootenay Regional Airport, and Pacific Coastal Airlines flies from Vancouver to Trail providing several options for easy access. The goal of our trip was to ride and document the Seven Summits, while getting out on some of the more gnarlier downhill and freeride shuttle trails. If you haven’t already heard of the Seven Summits and you love to ride x-country, this one is a worthy addition to your bucket list. The Seven Summits is an incredible ride, well deserving of its IMBA Epic ride status. Not for the inexperienced rider, due to its length and advanced technical rating, this point-to-point trail should be a part of every experienced rider’s itinerary when visiting the area. Completing the ride along the Seven Summits is a worthy accomplishment and one not easily forgotten. However, if big alpine riding along endless ridges surrounded by stunning hill tops ending with a 14 km descent is not for you, then not to worry, there are other trails in the area to explore. From gnarly downhill and freeride trails to cruisy gravel pathways for your family to enjoy, this place has it all.
Where to ride during your visit?
The obvious draw is the Seven Summits trail. This is a must do ride for most when visiting the area. However, it’s not for everyone and does require a certain level of stamina and skill set. For those looking for something a little shorter or different, then I would recommend exploring the following trails during your visit to Rossland. Many have already been added to bikepirate with links to full write-ups, including maps and GPS data for your reference.
Without a doubt, the must do ride is Seven Summits. However, if you’re looking for something a little less epic, consider riding the out-and-back trail Redtop; a formidable climb up to the summit of Red Mountain from the base of the Red Mountain Ski Resort. Or check out the Redhead Loop, which links a section of Redtop and several other Red Mountain Trails in the area to form a fun and flowy 1 – 2 hour loop.
Other trails worth checking out are Kooteney Columbia which takes you to the advanced KC Ridge descent. Combine it with KC Ridge or with Techno Grind if you want to keep to an intermediate ride.
If staying at the Rossland Motel, ride Drakes. Drakes is a fun and flowy cruise that heads down towards town from the Rossland Motel and serves as a great warm up to the x-country trails found in the area. Ride Drakes as an out-and-back or take it all the way to the Railgrade trail and from there into town (only about 6 km).
The classic trails Whiskey and Crown Point are a must do for anyone looking to shuttle or ride their big bikes. Both can be ridden on an all-mountain, but will flow much better on a downhill rig. They’re located in the same part of town and access is via the Malde Creek FSR. Flume, also in the vicinity is well worth checking out. I found Flume easier to ride on an all-mountain, only because it had a few pedally sections that really made it tough going when your only option is a 38 tooth ring. Both types of bikes will serve you well, just depends on your set-up. If you’re an expert rider check out Cherry Poppins, an expert run with several steeps and huge jump lines.
There are plenty more downhill trails in the area, allowing the rider to easily spend a day or two shuttling here. I would recommend checking out MountainShuttle if you’ve got a couple riders, or a group, and would like to be driven to all the best spots around town; Ian and Natasha are both accomplished riders that enjoy showing off their area.
There are plenty of beginner to intermediate rides located in and around Rossland to enjoy with your family. Consider heading to either of the two skills parks located right in town or check out the Railgrade trail, a cruisy 7.1 km gravel pathway located in the east end of town rolling all the way to the village of Warfield. Another great option is the Red Mountain Trail network where you will find Centennial Trail; a nice and wide gravel pathway heading from the north end of town to the Red Mountain Ski Area, about 2.2 km in length.
Rossglen Bike Skills Park is located at the southeast corner of Esling Drive and Irwin Drive. The Beginner to intermediate Skills Park includes ramps, jumps, ladders, boardwalks, hills and a large backboard.
Centennial Bike Skills Park is another option for the more experienced rippers in your group. It is rated an expert skills park with advanced jump lines and features. Centennial is located on the west end of town, accessed via Dunn Crescent.
Places to Stay
Our accommodation was arranged by Tourism Rossland and we stayed at the bike friendly Rossland Motel. The Motel had everything a rider could possibly ask for; clean rooms, plenty of space, a bike wash, a repair room with a stand (bring your own tools) and a large outdoor hot tub. Rooms are clean and comfortable, with plenty of hooks and hangers on the wall for drying your equipment (bags, helmets and pads).
For a list of other hotels and motels in the area, please visit tourismrossland.com/accommodations
Places to Eat
Being a small town, Rossland is limited on places to dine out. However, the current restaurants, coffee shops and bar in the area will more than make up for the lack of choices you might encounter in a larger city.
A great place for a beer or to refuel before and after your ride is The Flying Steam Shovel. The Flying Steam Shovel offers up a great atmosphere and good pub food at a reasonable price.
For breakfast and lunch there are plenty of options, including two of my favourites. Clansey’s makes a mean bacon and egg breakfast offering up several other great options, including awesome coffee and tea along with baked goods. The Grind is another favourite and provides some very healthy options, that taste incredible. And not to mention some good coffee.
For dinner consider Idgie’s Restaurant offering up a great selection of delicious meals along with several specials throughout the week.
Shuttle and Guides
MountainShuttle. From the airport to the trails and back, mountain shuttle will take you there. An awesome shuttle service in the heart of Rossland providing transportation to the Seven Summits trail or shuttles for the downhill trails located in and around Rossland.
Our trip to Rossland was a whirlwind and although it was short, we enjoyed riding some of the best trails Rossland has to offer. Thank you again to Deanne from Tourism Rossland, Natasha from MountainShuttle, and Jennifer from the Rossland Motel for your help and hospitality. Patrick and I enjoyed our trip immensely and cannot wait to come back to explore more of your local trails.