Bikepacking the Best of the South Chilcotin Mountains
Skyler Des Roches
For many mountain bikers living in the Pacific Northwest, a floatplane assisted trip into this wilderness park sits high on the bucket list. But, for anyone who enjoys pedaling, there is no need for a noisy and costly flight. The wide-open Relay and Big Creek valleys offer climbing on top-notch singletrack, and only the climb from Lorna Lake to Lorna Pass requires a short hike-a-bike.
The riding is characterized by generally smooth, fast singletrack through mid-elevation meadows, dry forests and open alpine in an area full of high mountain peaks and subalpine lakes. This route connects many of the best, most continuously rideable trails, with some quiet dirt road riding to close the loop.
79 Mi.(127 KM)
- Must Know
- The riding along almost the entire route is flowy and captivating
- The wide-open views from subalpine grasslands and high alpine meadows
- Seeing the wildflowers in bloom in June and July
- No mosquitoes
- The route is best-ridden in an anti-clockwise direction for maximum trail riding fun.
- Snow covers this area for much of the year. Trails are typically rideable from mid-June to late-October. July and August are the busiest, with enough floatplane traffic near Spruce and Warner Lakes on weekends that the noise pollution can be seriously annoying, though trail traffic remains light. (Be part of the solution, go self-propelled!)
- The author parked at Tyaughton Creek Recreational Site, but since this route is a loop, it can start anywhere on the road section. Other good parking options are at Tyax Wilderness Resort at the north end of Tyaughton Lake, or at the end of Gun Creek Rd.
- An excellent map of the area, by Trail Ventures BC (http://www.trailventuresbc.com/maps/south-chilcotin/order-chilcotin-map), is available for order online or at Mountain Equipment Co-op in Vancouver and the Bike Co. in Pemberton.
- Yield to hikers and especially to horses.
- Long-term mountain bike access to this provincial park is currently under dispute, so be polite and demonstrate how mountain bikers can coexist with other users. Besides, some of the riders on horsepacking trips are novices who have enough trouble controlling their horse without it getting spooked.
- This is bear country. Make noise to avoid an encounter. Carry 14m of 3mm cord in order to hang your food high in a tree at night. Carrying bear spray as a defense weapon, in case of a confrontation, is recommended (and is more effective than a firearm). Leave no food scraps, since bears that have discovered human food become dangerous.
- Driving times from Vancouver are about 4-5 hours via the Hurley FSR (rough 2WD) and an hour longer via Lillooet and Road 40 (mostly paved).
- If you’re coming from far away on an extended weekend, you’ll probably want to drive to the trailhead the night before. There are several established (free) forest service campsites in the area (see Trail Ventures BC trail map).
- The most strategically located forest service campsites are Friburg (Tyaughton Lake), and Tyaughton Creek.
- In the park there are many established campsites (see Trail Ventures BC trail map). Some, like at Spruce Lake, have bear-proof food storage boxes and pit toilets.
- Bring all the food you’ll need, there are no stores on route, and the store in Goldbridge has limited hours and limited choices.
- Post-ride victory meals can be had at Tyax Wilderness Resort, or better (larger, cheaper) at the Mineshaft Pub in Bralorne.