Cumberland: the Topp experience

Last fall Seb Kemp wrote a great piece on the riding found in Cumberland, you can check it out here. Meanwhile, Doug Topp was out exploring all that Cumberland has to offer and had this to say about the plethora of riding options he experienced on the Island and the Coast last week.

Another look

I just spent a couple of really great days in the Cumberland area.  There are two main trail networks, one immediately adjacent to the town site, and one about 15 minutes away by car at the Forbidden Plateau.  Both areas offer great riding, but it must be said that to be able to ride right from your door in town was really nice.  Cumberland itself is largely blue (intermediate) with some really fun black (advanced), while Forbidden Plateau is primarily black.  As in many other BC based riding destinations, climbing is common on FSRs and logging is evident.  Interesting note: The Cumberland Community Forest Society is doing what it can to purchase surrounding land in order to protect their community forest and to preserve existing trails.  Ya gotta love it!


Mapping for both areas is stellar, and very accurate.  Thanks goodness for that, as signage is definitely lacking.  Fortunately the maps make up for it, but it leads to a lot of stopping and map consultation, which certainly impacts the flow factor.  The few signs that do exist allowed us to place ourselves fairly well, though exiting Forbidden Plateau near our parking proved to be somewhat confusing.  Island Mountain Rides in Cumberland offer a MTB guide service, which would have been well worth it but they were still closed for the season.

In the Cumberland network we enjoyed ourselves by continually looping down off the climbs, then climbing back up past the entries, which allowed us to gradually make our way up top, for one long and super fun descent back to town.  Favorites were: Potluck, Thirsty Beaver, Blue Collar, Crafty Butcher, Truffle Shuttle, Black Hole and Space Nugget.  There’s a lot more than that, all worthy of exploring; make sure to get over to the radio tower area.  Over at Forbidden Plateau, it was mostly FSR climbing (we went up via Boston Main) to get up top.  From there get ready to rumble on trails like Cabin Fever, Slither, Two Sheiks, Cabin Fever XC, Black Dog, Cliff Ave, Transmission and much more.  Some very cool exposed rock here, and mostly unmarked near the bottom of the network so pay attention.  Also, there are couple of lengthy and steep hike-a-bikes on the lower part of the network, so be sure to ask the guys at the shop if you want to avoid that.

We stayed at the Riding Fool Hostel, which offers really clean and tidy rooms (private, shared, and dorm style), modern shared bathrooms, a full kitchen and lounge area with pool table, and secure bike storage.   There’s a bike wash on the property if you get muddy (which we did).  The staff are friendly and helpful, booking was a breeze, and you can walk pretty much anywhere for dinner, coffee or whatever.  The much beloved Waverly Hotel is across the street; be sure to drop by post ride for excellent food and cold beer.  The staff there are also very friendly and if you need to eat gluten free, they’ve got you covered.  There are small mom and pop coffee shops and restaurants along the main street, and even a small brew pub, which tends to be busy! Cumberland

The lone bike shop in Cumberland is Dodge City Cycles, located on a visible corner in the same building as the hostel.  The shop does what it can to fundraise, build and maintain and you’d be hard pressed not to enjoy the fruits of all that volunteer labour.  Some of the ladder bridges are hundreds of feet long.  Drop in for maps and directions, you’ll need them!

Sunshine Coast

From Cumberland we went over to the Sunshine Coast and spent an afternoon riding West Sechelt.  The staff at Off The Edge bike shop were ultra-friendly and helpful with maps and trail beta and I highly recommend a stop there if you haven’t ridden the area previously.  We had a nice healthy lunch at The Bakery, right across from the shop, and off we went.  The West Sechelt trail network is full of excellent climbing and descending on a blue/black mix of loamy flow and rocky technical terrain.  There are places where you can test or expand upon your technical climbing skills, then fall into a beautiful flowy ripper.  We basically did one big clockwise loop – on trails recommended by the shop – and we weren’t disappointed.

The Sunshine Coast also offers The Coast Gravity Park, and fantastic XC riding in other areas like Roberts Creek and Gibsons/Langdale.  This whole area is now more well-known than ever thanks in large part to the size of their offering and the ongoing buzz around the BC Bike Race.  You could easily spend 4 – 5 days exploring Cumberland and the Sunshine Coast, I know I’ll be going back.  Again!

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