The vast vistas that remind you of your insignificance, but inspires with trails and views. Their slogan – “Larger Than Life” is apt. With big country, big weather and the midnight sun who wouldn’t be daunted by the journey to venture to this Far North.
It’s a bold claim to attach a superlative like “the purest singletrack experience” to any place but if any place can earn it; it’s the Yukon. The Yukon’s slogan- “Larger Than Life”is apt. People come here to visit and never leave.People come here to visit and never leave. Thus is the draw of the Yukon.
First some geography and numbers. The Yukon is a territory of Canada located north of sixty degrees latitude. About 35,000 people inhabit an area a little larger than the state of California (or 2x the size of the U.K.). The majority of Yukoner’s live in the Whitehorse area. Even so, there aren’t a lot of people here. There’s a lot of room to spread out. More importantly Yukoners are very outdoorsy people. A city of 27,000 people has approximately 300 members in their bike club. City of Whitehorse numbers show that approximately 3/4 of city residents use trails on a regular basis whether for hiking, biking, snowshoeing, ski-joring or running. There are 700km of trails in the Whitehorse area; an insane amount given the size of the city. The City so recognizes the value of trails that it has had a dedicated paid trail maintenance crew for some years.
We were entertained by the Northern Lights this trip
Adding to this data the Yukon is not immune to the tendency of Canadians to volunteer time building and maintaining trails. There are a lot of people who are active and the quality and diversity of the trails show their hard work. This trail scene has been developing for over 20 years!
Finally, the very dry climate of the Whitehorse and Yukon area helps. Rolling hills, a near-desert climate (Whitehorse gets the least rain of any Canadian city). Soil that can handle moisture (glacial silt blowing in on westerly winds which carpets the ground has moisture absorbent qualities) all contribute to trail bed surfaces that are basically perfect for creating singletrack heaven.
Whitehorse is a 2 hour plane flight away north of Vancouver; the same time as the drive on the Sea-to-Sky highway from YVR to Whistler. For all those who wish to visit Canada and think all there is Whistler and the Rockies, consider the Yukon. Our two hour flight on Air North was effortless. It’s nice coming into the small airports, where you walk off the plane, into the terminal, get your luggage, car and leave within 30 minutes! We even ate Butter Chicken in the restaurant in the Airport! We picked up our GMC Equinox from Driving Force which would be our transportation.
Whitehorse has two primary riding areas – Grey Mountain and Mt Macintyre. The riding is mostly of the trail and pedally variety with fast wide-open zoom zoom trails but with amazing sightlines. The trails include old mining access trails, hiking trails and recently built mountain-bike specific trails. The riding season goes from May to October. The core of the riding season (June – August) has long daylight hours stretching well into the night. Riding in Sept is cooler, and you’ll be guaranteed vivid fall colours. To show your appreciation for trails check out the Contagious Mountain Biking Club page and donate to participate in trail love!
The Mt Mac biking area is just north of town. There are many trails here in the cross country ski area. Today we rode – Blown Away, Starbucks Revenge, Goat, Kid Vicious. This area also hosts Phat biking in the winter via a huge network of XC skiing trails
We go up with distracting views.
This is actually a photo of the Dempster from a previous trip to compare and contrast fall colours
Well signed network
Steve the Brit Expat, Whistler expat and now Whitehorse ‘local’
Cool Signage! The twisty turny Starbucks Revenge.
Comparing the trail in 2013 and 2017…
Kid Vicious is a newer more technical trail.
Moneyshot off Grey Mountain
The next day the weather was more unsettled but we decided to ride Moneyshot regardless. We also had a friend from Vancouver so we could shuttle! Temps were down to 4C at the top so it definitely had the Winter is Coming mantra. There are too many combinations to speak of in speaking of how to ride the trail system so either get a guide from Boreale Explorers or try to find someone to ride with via the CMBC facebook page.
We had the fortune of a local connection who would ride come hell or highwater and who is also one of the most active trailbuilders in the area. Ladies and Gents – I bring you Paul Burbidge.
Into the mist
Photo from our ride in 2011 with Tony when we could see, we go up that ridge to the start of the trail.
Jeff going into the mist
Duffy duffy duff duff
Over the top!
New and Old map of Grey Mountain to give you an idea of trail expansion over the past decade
Where to Stay
While in Whitehorse we stayed at the Edgewater Hotel right downtown. This hotel is centrally located, has great friendly service, new comfortable rooms with art from Local Indigenous Artists and an attached restaurant for Breakfast – Tonimoes.
Our comfy, convenient accommodations while in Whitehorse.
They also have a Happy Hour!