Distance: 4.3 km
Time: 1 – 2 hrs
Elevation Gain: 395 m
Elevation Loss: 16 m
Technical Rating: Intermediate
Physical Rating: Hard
Season: May – October
Permit Required: No
Middle Earth is a climbing trail which begins halfway up the mountain in the Mackenzie Area. Built as a bike climb, this amazing route, mostly in the trees, offers up several viewpoints of the mountains and valley below. There are numerous switchbacks along this narrow singletrack trail taking the rider up towards the second launch pad and cell tower. From the cell tower one can descend down the expert trails Gravatron and Gravatrout, or continue to climb Skelula7 to access the epic ride Jack the Ripper.
Access to Middle Earth is found 5.3 km up the Mackenzie FSR for those riding or shuttling the access road. The trailhead is marked with a paragliding sign and starts to the right of the fork. Alternatively, if you’ve climbed up Let it Go to the launch site, take the FSR from the launch pad to the fork. At the fork look for a faint singletrack trail entering the woods north of the FSR, this is Middle Earth. The climb up the trail begins on a narrow singletrack lined with numerous switchbacks. You will notice a faint down track cutting across the switchbacks, which may seem confusing. Pay no attention to the trail cutting directly across the switchbacks, this is used as a shortcut for paragliders heading up to the second launch site, and continue to climb up along the well-worn trail. After a few hundred metres of climbing the trail becomes well-defined and very easy to follow until it finally pops out onto the Mackenzie FSR. From there turn right and head east on the FSR for about 1 km till you reach the cell tower.
Due to the higher elevation of the Middle Earth trail, it will take some time to thaw out in the spring and it will most likely have deadfall along its route until the local trail fairies have time to clear it. Make sure to check with the boys at the Bike Co, the PVTA or refer to the bikepirate.com trail report before heading out if unsure of the current conditions.
TRAILHEAD | N50 21.100 W122 47.813
Access to Middle Earth is via Let it Go or the Mackenzie FSR. The trailhead is marked with a paragliding sign and heads into the trees just north of the FSR at the fork. It is located 5.3 km up the Mackenzie FSR and 160 m before the first launch site.
bikepirate rating: 4 Skulls
An exciting loop that combines Middle Earth with Jack the Ripper, an expert trail, is best done by shuttling up to Middle Earth. Begin this ride by climbing up Middle Earth over to Skelula7 and back down and across Jack the Ripper. This loop will take 2 – 4 hours and finishes at the start of Reid Road.
The experienced endurance athlete will enjoy a much longer loop which begins by pedaling up Happy Trail accessing it from town or the gravel pit. From the Happy Trail take Waco Connector to Nimby, pedal up Nimby to Let it Go, Let it Go to Middle Earth, right on the FSR to the cell tower, up Skelula7 to Jack the Ripper and across Jack the Ripper to finish on Reid Road. From there ride Reid Road to Mission Impossible; descending to the gravel pit. This loop will take anywhere from 6 – 8 hours to complete.