Whitehorse a great destination for mountain biking road trip
Like many other mountain bikers in An-chorage, I enjoy biking the singletrack trails in Kincaid Park and on the Hillside. And I love riding trails on the Kenai and in the Valley. But riding new places is always an adventure, and last summer I finally made the pilgrimage to one of Canada’s popular mountain biking destinations: Whitehorse, Yukon. Lucky for my husband, Jon, and me, we have a friend who relocated to the town on the Yukon River, so we had a host to show us some of her favorite spots both on the trail and off.
Our 11-day adventure was framed with two days of driving on both ends of the trip, so that left a week for exploring the area. Our friend Mary took us up Mount McIntyre (Mount Mac) to get our legs going after the drive. The loamy singletrack through the boreal forest climbed to views of the surround-ing landscape, including Grey Mountain just east of the Yukon River where we would ride later in the week. Mount Mac is also the cross-country ski area, so it has a combination of wide ski trails and flowing singletrack, making it a good first ride in the area. As in Alaska, Whitehorse has a growing fat-bike community with winter riding opportunities on those same singletrack trails.
Each day, we’d tackle a different ride, with vary-ing difficulty levels. One day Jon and I explored Grey Mountain on our own, using a city map to navigate around small lakes, finding swooping descents and arriving at a teeter-totter that I rode several times just to play with the chang-ing direction of the feature. (Tip: Take your time by not riding it too fast.)
While in the area, we took a day trip to Carcross, where we bumped into friends from Anchorage. Carcross is known for its shuttle runs on Montana Mountain and miles of relatively new singletrack trails that have been built by First Nations trail builders. We could have spent several days exploring the trails there, but the day trip gave us a taste of what we hope to do on future visits.
Jon biked each day that we were in the area, while I chose to take a rest day to check out the art galleries and a bookshop in downtown Whitehorse. I couldn’t visit every gallery but Arts Underground and Yukon Artists at Work are just two in the heart of downtown and feature exhibits by local artists. (I couldn’t resist a small pottery bowl!)
After a week of riding, we headed to the nearby Tahkini Hot Springs where we set up our tent and then headed to the pool for a long soak, followed by dinner at the cafe. The next day we returned to Whitehorse for a mushroom hike with a local ranger and prepared for the trip home. Jon and I have often done long road trips in the Lower 48, but the trip to the Yukon reminded me of the adventures that are just a few days away and allow us to enjoy the long days of our northern summer.
WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO TO WHITEHORSE
Not everyone will have a personal guide or a place to stay when they visit Whitehorse, so here are a few resources to get you started.
Lodging ranges from hotels to RV parks to a campground with tent sites with easy trail access.
Local shops offer bike rentals, but if you’re driving, you’ll probably want your own bicycle.
Explore the trails with a trail map (available on the city web-site), use a guide service, visit a bike shop or look up the lo-cal mountain bike club. The Dirt Girls hosts group rides each week, and for $15 Canadian you can become a member and join them. (Sorry, the guys don’t schedule weekly rides.)
www.yukonbiking.ca: shows all trails; use the “rides” tab to find popular routes
www.whitehorse.ca/departments/parks-and-community-de-velopment/trails: trail maps
www.xcskiwhitehorse.ca/trails-map: winter bike information
shop.icyclesport.com and cadencecycle.squarespace.com/rentals: local shops
cmbcyukon.ca: local club information
be-yukon.com: guided trip
robertservicecampground.com: camping in Whitehorse