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‘The time of year to stay off the trails’: Mountain bikers head out of the Elk Valley for riding

Mountain biking conditions are good outside of the Elk Valley, but locally you’ll have to wait
Trail conditions in the Eager Hills area near Cranbrook are looking good, but the Cranbrook Community Forest has a little longer to go. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

It’s Spring, the snow is melting and the trails around the region are (very slowly) becoming suitable for riding on, but for mountain bikers and hikers seeking clear dirt, a trip to the South Country or beyond may be on order.

Trail etiquette is key this time of year, as the snow melts and turns the trails below to mud. Picking the right time, and the right place to go riding is important for respecting fellow riders, so for Elk Valley locals they’ll need to travel a short distance.

“The area we call Eager Hills has been riding GREAT for the last two weeks,” said Lisa Barnes, president of the Wildhorse Cycling Club – the Cranbrook area trails group.

Barnes said trails in the Eager Hills area, to the north of Hwy. 3 and to the Northeast of Cranbrook are dry, packed, and being respected by trail users so they’re in good nick.

As one of the first trail areas to thaw out, it’s a popular network this time of year.

“To beat the masses mornings and mid week afternoons are the best,” said Barnes.

The much larger Cranbrook Community Forest isn’t quite dried out as of Apr. 5.

“We are closely monitoring the South Community Forest for the ever popular downhill trails like Green Chicken, More Poultry, Double Shot, Espresso, Coffee Grinder and we anticipate that by next week the trails committee will deem them ready to welcome riders.

“The other well known trails like Hobgoblin, Wizards Castle and Wizard are still snowy in sections and will be a few more weeks before they are shredable.”

Keep an eye on the Wildhorse Cycling Club’s Facebook page on info on when more trails become available, and for those visiting from out of town – make sure to make a donation to help maintain the trails you use. Trail Forks Trail Karma is where to go for that to support trail building and maintenance. If you want to become a member, head to Northstar Bike Co or Gericks Sports in Cranbrook.

Closer to the Elk Valley, the Elk Rim trail, managed by the Fernie Trails Alliance is riding well, but other trails managed by the FTA are mostly under snow or too muddy for riding.

Pat Gilmar of the Coal Creek Heritage Society, which manages the Montane and Ridgemont trails said that it was “the time of year to stay off the trails for a few weeks” around Fernie.

“It’s the time of year to head to Cranbrook or Elk Rim.”

Heading up the valley, Calvin Domin of the Sparwood Trails Alliance said that Sparwood trails were ice or mud, so had a while to go, whole Colin Standish of the Elkford Trails Alliance said all ETA trails were still under snow.

So, riders that still want fatbiking can head north!

“Recommendations for fat biking are Lost Lake Loop North (ETA’s new trail constructed October 2021) and Mountain walk as named on Trailforks,” said Standish.

READ MORE: New blue-black mountain biking trail opens in Montane
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