Winter Park

Winter Park is a new town situated at 2755 metres altitude. Although there has been an important railway depot since the 19th century the place feels new. A lot of holiday apartments have been blown up the last decades along route 70 to cater to skiers. Winter Park and the neighbouring town Fraser has enthusiastically taken to mountain biking. There is a great number of designated MTB-trails, it would take a week just to ride them all, and some you would like to ride repeatedly. There are several excellent bike shops. And, there is a free brochure, Mountain Bike & Trail Guide to Winter Park & the Fraser Valley, that describes and maps most of the trails. There is no doubt it is one of the best places in the world for singletrack. Two electronic maps are available. They are displayed here with permission from Winter Park Recreational Association. There is plenty more useful information on Epic Singletrack.


Fraser Valley Map

Winter Park Resort

There are three campsites, one Idlewild between Winter Park and the ski resort, St. Louis Creek Campground, and Bayer's Creek in the valley west above Fraser. We stayed at the Idlewild. It was a splendid site, coniferous forest, a tumbling brook, though a major drawback was the enormous diesel engine trains that rumbled all night.

Most mountainbiking is done on the west slopes. There is a complex web of trails, that are well maintained, and offer a lot of different options.




Idlewild campground

The Tipperary trail refers both to a particular trail that consists of a long climb up to crest that is higher than 3000 metres and to the Tipperary Race course.

We had splendid singletrack, beginning with the Gavelo Trail, continuing via the North East Passage to a dirt road up to the beginning of the Tipperary Trail.  One passes a ford. Then follows fine switchbacks that climb up the mountain, through coniferous forest and meadows.

 

Climbing Tipperary

Once one has reached the highest point, a bit higher than 3000 metres, there is a fine downhill, on fast singletrack along a trail called Spruce Creek. Great fun. The rims get pretty hot. The decent ends at St Louis Creek Road.



 
Ford Tipperary trail






Descent Spruce Creek
       
On the other side of St Louis Creek Road one goes a short bit on fire road and then one takes the Flume down. It is a winding, mildly technical singletrack.  Great fun!

Then one gains a bit of altitude again on Chainsaw. There are a couple of fairly steep technical climbs. One passes the Elk Road. Then one find the Elk Meadow, bit of road bit of singletrack. Beyond one ascends the D2 fire road.

The riding is great all the way.


Flume


From the D2 one finds the WTB. A splendid bit of singletrack: quite technical with some tight and challenging switchbacks. It would be hard to find more fun singletrack anywhere.


WTB

After WTB the trail goes on fire roads, with splendid views and some exhilarating descents, down to Vasque Creek Road which one follows upwards. One passes some camp spots and then reaches the Vasque Creek ford. It is a bit hairy to cross, unless one picks the right spot one is likely to be stopped in the middle by some rock.


Vasque ford


On the other side of Vasque ford there i short bit of fire road before one hits the Blue Sky trail, a fast rolling descent mostly on fine singletrack. We were smiling all the way.

Blue Sky is followed by Ice Hill, a narrow technical singletrack that has some short difficult ascents. Some sections the path is pretty exposed carved out ledges on the steep slope. It is great fun.


Ice Hill


Those who are fit and acclimatized may do the Tipperary Course all the way from the Givelo Trail to Winter Park Resort the same day. We did not. We did it piece meal, not least because we got hungry, and went down for lunch. The Resort is serviced by lifts. We did not use them but saw quite a few bikers bombing down on down hill rigs. We preferred to climb.

We began by riding the Serenity trail, one of the most ridden in Winter Park. I winds along traversing the western slope between the Resort and Winter Park. Some bits are quite technical and fun.

Then we ascended to Sunspot, the end station of the lift, at 3261 metres, a long strenuous climb via Lower Cherokee, Upper Cherokee, Long Trail, and Cheyenne.


Serenity

Serenity



The reward for the hard climb is a virtually continuous down hill to Winter Park. Beginning with the switchbacks of Cheyenne. Not particularly difficult unless you are going fast.


Cheyenne
The Cheyenne was followed by Arapaho, Lower Arapaho, Upper Cherokee and Lower Cherokee. All narrow singletracks, with roots, rock gardens, and  switchbacks.

We had a splendid outing.




Lower Arapaho

To sum up Winter Park was great fun. We only stayed three days largely because we were eager to get ahead as we were just starting our trip. Later we often thought we should have stayed longer. It is certainly a place we would go back to if get the chance.

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