Lillooet - Della downhill

Words and photos by Lee Lau and Todd Hellinga unless otherwise noted.


Lillooet Mountain-biking

... really isn't that developed. I would be lying if I said that Lillooet had half the number of trails of New Denver or the diversity of Rossland. Instead Lillooet's signature line isn't even in Lillooet. Instead it's about half an hour south of town on the west side of the Fraser River near an area known to locals as "Della". Della is a buff trail on a ridgeline running SE from Askom Mountain (2553m then down to a plateau above the Fraser River. Della descends so much that you actually cross several varied bio-geo-climatic zones as you pin it downhill; ranging from sub-alpine forest to mixed deciduous and coniferous then down to desert.

More importantly for the freeride/ downhill crowd, Della can be shuttled on a pretty good gravel road. Major hazards are wild horses and (at the present) a rockslide that presents a bit of a navigation hurdle at the 1250m elevation mark. Here are some stats about Della:

Welcome to Lillooet! Mt Brew at 2891 m is over 2.6 vertical km above Lillooet


Typically I am loathe to give beta or hints about undiscovered gems like Della. However, after having spoken to the only guy who is maintaining Della (my friend Kevin Aitken), I decided to run this article about the Della Downhill and showcase the video at the end of this article. To be blunt, Lillooet's main economic driver is logging and, with the collapse of the logging industry in British Columbia, the town is hurting and could use any tourism income it can get. The purpose of this article is to showcase Della; to give the legions of mountainbikers who drive to Whistler and who make treks to the B.C. Interior a reason to stop, ride an incredible trail and perhaps to spend some money in town.


A third of Lillooet's regular riding population and the most active builder and maintainer - Kevin Aitken


Non-biking things to do

I come to Lillooet to ride so disclose that I have not actually tried any of these activities. You may have dragged non-biking significant others along on your road-trip. They will need to eat (so will you) and be entertained. Some food options are listed at the start of the article. Non-biking entertainment options are listed in the Tourism BC site, the Gold Country tourism site, and more information is available at the Lillooet visitors centre.

Some suggested activities follow:

A crew from Whistler joined us. The drive up is on very nicely graded gravel road

The access road to the upper portion of trail is partially blocked by rockslide but you can rock-crawl around it

Fast, drifty corners

More high-speed drifty corners

Tyler on the upper part of the trail

Tyler tails Kevin in the natural half-pipe of the lower section of trail

Della - the trail

There isn't that much to say about Della that the stats can't convey. 1140m (3750 ft approx of downhill. 22 to 30 minutes of downhill, hauling ass on smooth fast trails. Chicanes of trees, scrub, cacti and brush. Ridiculous views and sightlines way down a ridge so you can pin it through forest then desert. Very few visitors (this article might change this) so the trails remain buff, smooth and fast. The pictures in this article tell some of the tale but the video best conveys the sense of sheer speed and flow of Della.

As alluded, Della doesn't see a lot of traffic at the present. Even dirt bikers don't visit (there are MotoX trails closer to Lillooet). Although no-one keeps exact counts, the locals guesstimate that Della is ridden perhaps once a month by usually the same group of locals and invited out-of-towners. This means that Della is in ridiculous good shape for such a long, shuttle-able downhill. It also means that there are no facilities at Della and that riding parties who ride here should plan on being self-supported.

Here are some important things to consider when you ride here:

The Della trailhead is only half an hour to 45 minutes from Lillooet and you can see the Lytton - Lillooet highway from a good portion of this trail. Consider that, at times, you will be about a two hour drive from the closest hospital and almost always out of cell range. Della will give you a flavour of downhill-riding in the "backcountry". It will only be you and your buddies on this trail and it's unlikely that you'll see anyone else here except for the odd black bear, wild horse and rattlesnalke.

If you bring a group out here make sure they are prepared. This is a special place and any freerider/downhiller worth his/her salt should feel privileged to ride here. Don't be like a hapless acquaintance who dragged some bike-park hero friends of his all the way out to Della. They missed the Longhorn and GLC drops so much that he had to leave after a few laps amidst their incessant whining.

You should treat the trail and the consequences of crashing and injuring yourself on Della with the seriousness that is deserved.


Fanny rails high-speed Lillooet dirt ~ Photo Tom Hey

Whistler meets Lillooet ~ photo Jacques Choquette

Kevin hits some local features

Tyler airing out


Other Trails

There are other trails in the vicinity of Lillooet. Of course, the singletrack nirvana that is the South Chilcotin is 2 hours west of Lillooet but is an area more appropriate for those who enjoy pedalling uphill and in the alpine. There are other freeride trails in Lillooet (I've included a snippet from the Mad "Rectal" Miner - the steepest trail I've ever terrified myself on) but those are very committing trails, with incredible exposure and high consequence moves. Those are not trails for the masses. Perhaps if one displays some degree of riding competence and bribes a friendly local with enough beer you will find those trails. For now, you will have to content yourself with "only" the 1100m + (3500 ft +) downhill white-knuckled speed fest that is Della.


Local flora

Elevation profile (NSMB forces a small size picture - click here for a larger size)

GPS map (NSMB forces a small size picture - click here for a larger size). Right click here and "Save As" to download the waypoints.

Mad Rectal Miner - Lillooet, BC from Lee Lau on Vimeo.

Useful Links


Nearby bike rides

Recommended places to eat

Recommended places to stay