Vernon in the Fall – Silverstar Bike Park and Predator Ridge

Silverstar and Predator Ridge

Vernon sits at the north end of Okanagan Lake in the BC Interior. Vernon’s origins are farming; it benefits being situated on a thoroughfare along the Okanagan Valley in bucolic lake country. Vernon’s rolling terrain and warm sunny climate make both travel and farming easy in the area; a characteristic of terrain which also makes for choice trail building. While not as well known as other parts of British Columbia, there is diverse mountain biking and an enormous trail system (200kms approx) in the North Okanagan/Vernon area.

Silver Star’s bike park is considered a destination of choice for Downhill Mountain bikers in the BC Interior throughout North America consistently being voted among the top three offerings in the continent. With Silver Star’s expansion into the epic crosscountry realm with the Beowulf trail and their proximity to Sovereign Lakes cross country area (also in the confusingly named Silver Star Provincial park), just Silver Star alone has a plethora of choices.

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We had the privilege of riding Beowulf with Cam and Claudia Sorensen, Cam is the Bike Park Manager of Silver Star Resort as well as main trail designer for the park and the new cross-country Beowulf trail. He also put in a fair amount of volunteer time on some of the more tech trails in the Vernon area (Big Ed and Hammered Cow to name just two). Cam and Claudia gave us a preview of the 35 km long Beowulf. We bypassed and also cut through some sections as the trail is still in progress but nearing completion for an official opening in summer of 2017.

We were going to ride the Bike Park in the afternoon, but rains and wind came in strong. Instead we hung out in the village and enjoyed the hot tub at the Snowbird Lodge. The next day the weather broke for the better so we took advantage of the rental fleet’s carbon Pivot Phoenix and carbon Devinci Wilson and slayed bike park blue runs. Just say no to woodwork after a pouring rain!

Silver Star Bike Park and the village area had plenty to do for non mountain-bikers. My brother and his wife took their dog for a nice walk along village hiking trails. Then my brother, rode his road bike the 44km to Predator Ridge along secondary roads. Road riding is very popular in the Vernon area and you can see why. Uncrowded secondary roads abound. After our morning ride in Silver Star we then had a nice afternoon ride to Ellison before having dinner at the Range Lounge and Grill.

The public trails are maintained by the North Okanagan Cycling Society – NOCS – Feel free to donate if you enjoy their trails! Donate directly or donate through Trailforks if you use this service to plan for your trips.

Beowulf at Silver Star

Beowulf (the trail) is a 35 km loop to be fully completed in summer of 2017. The trail starts in Silver Star’s subalpine and winds through three different bio-geo-climatic zones – an entirely appropriate way to showcase the diversity of Vernon’s terrain.. Beowulf is also an Old English epic poem. The poem is set in Scandinavia.From wiki – Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes, whose mead hall in Heorot has been under attack by a monster known as Grendel. After Beowulf slays him, Grendel’s mother attacks the hall and is then also defeated. Victorious, Beowulf goes home to Geatland (Götaland in modern Sweden) and later becomes king of the Geats. After a period of fifty years has passed, Beowulf defeats a dragon, but is fatally wounded in the battle. After his death, his attendants cremate his body and erect a tower on a headland in his memory.

Consider this your biking cultural moment.

Beating the rains to ride the Beowulf trail with Cam and Claudia. Claudia is one of the principal trailbuilders in the Sovereign Lakes area.

Beautifully routed and well constructed trail with fun pumps and rollers for grade reversals to shed the water (going to get a lot of snow and rain here in the subalpine portion). Some portions of trails are two years old already; the pine needles are freshly reloaming the trailbed

As you descend you cross into a pine then a cedar forest with organic loam imparting more natural suspension. There’s quite the challenge in routing some sections especially given the variety of soil and vegetation but it should be a destination trail when completed

Silver Star Bike Park

In the afternoon it rained, but that didn’t deter many people from riding on the last day of the bike park.

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Muddy riders !

Dedicated.

The rental shop where they have carbon Phoenix Pivots, Devinci Wilsons and Norco Aurums. All for sale at the end of the season!

Silver Star resort is tightly laid out and quaint. I demoed a Pivot Pheonix! This bike begged me for more then I’d ever want to give it…

My brother, Robert, rode down the Silver Star resort and back up, cause that’s what roadies do…

Predator Ridge

Closer to Vernon the Golf Course, Predator Ridge is a company actively promoting tourism in the area. While their focus is golf and real estate, they are well aware that a viable community must offer other activities and exceptionally aware that cycling is a rapidly growing tourism and recreational activity; something which draws visitors to the area

Predator Ridge has found the road and mountain biking religion and hasn’t just paid lip service to supporting the sport. Notably Predator paid to build a trail from their resort area to the Ellison Provincial Park trails. This Ellison Connector trail is professionally built by Cam Sorensen (of Silver Star Bike Park and Beowulf reknown) and lets you avoid a circuitous drive through Vernon which then lets you experience the flowy cross country Ellison trails. Another plus for Predator is their close proximity to Kalamalka Provincial Park in the little town of Coldstream (only 25 minutes away). Kal Lake trails offer a bewildering choice of almost 100 trails on which you are allowed to ride. Diversity includes the Epic Pali Gap trail to create a 30+km epic with a 1000m singletrack climb to shorter scenic grassland riding overlooking the blue waters of Kalamalka Lake. More on Kal Lake riding in the next segment.

Predator Ridge is dog friendly, has a secure bike room, and offers other outdoors and hiking opportunities for non-riding members of your group. They have a really nice patio and high scale restaurant. Especially in the shoulder seasons when trails become even more mint and discounts abound, its worth the stay.

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Biking in Predator Ridge.

Trails right from the resort!

The connector itself is 2.08km, with 184m descending and 56m climbing when riding from Predator Ridge to the Provincial Park.

Great views along the way.

The north end of Okanagan Lake.

Commonage Road is the road paralleling Hwy 97 that offers a nice scenic road ride.

Accommodations

While at Silver Star we stayed at the Snowbird Lodge. This location is perfect for biking. We stayed right on the mountain with views of the ski and bike park area. It has secure bike lockers with a bike wash station; a.hot tub in on the Patio and was so close to everything that, if we wanted to, could fire a potato cannon and hit people wandering through the village.

As we were two couples and a dog we had a room with an adjoining room with its own well equipped kitchen and bathroom. Snowbird Lodge has exceptional value for the location..

Outside and bike storage

Rooms and Hot Tub – also dog friendly

Food

Dinner at Red Antler - slow cooked ribs! So good we ordered seconds!

Lunch at Bugaboos Bakery and Cafe

Other Activities

Walking the dog through the Silver Star resort

When to Go

The warm season lasts from mid June to early September  with an average daily high temperature above 23°C. The hottest days of the year are in late July, with an average high of 29°C and low of 14°C.

The cold season lasts from mid November to late February with an average daily high temperature below 6°C. The coldest day of the year is early January, with an average low of -6°C and high of -4°C.

Maps from Trailforks

Beowulf – Track is hidden since it is not complete.

 

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Predator Ridge to Ellison Provincial Park

 

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