Exploring BC’s Beautiful Backroads
This is a guest blog post by professional freeride mountain biker Thomas Vanderham.
In our line of work, summer is the busiest season for professional mountain bikers who want to explore backroad riding areas. The season tends to fly by very quickly. Before you know it, the dust will have settled on another busy Crankworx event. With the changing leaves in our (already) beautiful province With the moisture returning to the air and cooler temperatures; it is the perfect time for long days spent outside. Summer is definitely my favorite time of year to be home and exploring the beautiful BC backroad riding areas.
It’s easy to talk about friends getting together for a summer adventure but not everyone’s schedule always aligns. Therefore, it was by a small miracle that in early September, our group of friends made it happen. We congregated at Mount Currie Coffee in Pemberton to fuel up for a week of riding and 4x4ing in the Lillooet region of BC. Curtis Robinson and Dylan Dunkerton had found some time to get away from their duties as co-founders of the Coast Gravity Park. We convinced Nic Genovese (half of the production company MindSpark) to take a detour with us to Lillooet. Off we all went, on to one of the most scenic highways in the country – Duffy Lake road and up over the Coast Range and down into Lillooet. We also made a stop at the infamous Lightfoot gas station. We topped up our tanks, jerry cans and snack supplies before turning south and leaving the pavement behind for the backroads.
It would be putting it mildly to say that we needed to be efficient with our space as Dylan’s 1994 Tacoma and my 4Runner were packed to the brim. It carried all the supplies we would need for our 4 man crew: food, water, tools, bikes, riding gear, camping gear, camera gear, drone and bear spray. We packed for the worst and hoped for the best. For the next week, our vehicles will provide much more than daily transport but it will also act as our full-time home base. With a bit of bike shuttling, deadfall clearing, and mountain climbing on the side. Therefore, we rely heavily on the reliability of our vehicles, especially when we will not be close to any gas station or auto shop.
First Stop – Della Creek! It is a backroad riding spot that is quickly becoming the stuff of legends in the mountain bike world. The trail itself is a seemingly endless descent, down ridgelines and chutes that take you to numerous viewpoints along the way. But the real draw is the fact that you can camp within an arm’s reach of the trailhead. After arriving, we set up the tents and went to bed. We knew we had 1000 vertical meters of dreamy trail to wake up to. If you ride Della Creek in the right conditions, it might just be the best trail you will ride all year. We enjoyed a few dust free laps before retiring back to our campsite; where a well-deserved beer and fire roasted chicken. Having filled our appetite for riding, we turned our attention to Molybdenite Peak. At almost 2800 meters, the summit is one of the highest places you can drive a vehicle to in BC and maybe even Canada. After hearing some reports of snow at the top only days prior, we departed for the alpine with cautious optimism. If it had not rained off, snow would make the road far too dangerous to drive. The only way to find out was to get up there and see it for ourselves. After airing our tires down we made our way from the banks of the Fraser, up the narrow and technical old FSR, right up to the treeline and set up camp at Molybdenite Lake (2050 meters). Our camp spot was perched on a shoulder overlooking the lake and mother nature treated us to a beautiful alpine sunset that reflected off of the water. There was a group consensus that even without making it to the peak, camping by the lake made the drive worthwhile.
We woke up to dry skies and the wind. This makes it a perfect combination for drying out the moisture sitting on the road. Reaching the top was looking promising. With a whole day set aside for the ascent, we took our time. We made a few stops to take photos and we even did a few shots with the drone. We even ran into another group. Now we were a convoy of 5 Toyota’s, all different shapes, sizes, and generations. The road is famous for it’s final stretch to the top. A narrow rocky shelf with major exposure to one side. Definitely, no shortage of panoramic views to distract you from the task at hand. Reaching the top was an amazing feeling and we had a 360-degree view without any town or highway in sight. It had our whole group pondering the fact that we were able to drive vehicles to a spot like this.
After soaking in the views we pointed our trucks back downhill. We headed for home having checked a couple things off our BC bucket list. I can’t say enough about our week in the Lillooet area. I would highly recommend it to mountain bikers, off-roaders or mountain enthusiasts alike. Hopefully, our trip has helped to inspire your next adventure out in BC’s beautiful backroads. Travel safe!