words:: Ben Osborne // photos:: Jordy Norris/Courtesy Of Sun Peaks
“There’s a mountain around here?”
No matter how you cut it, the flat, desert-like terrain leaves any visitor to Kamloops bewildered that a year-round resort, revered for its biking and skiing, lies just forty-five minutes out of the arid lowlands of Kamloops, British Columbia.
Sure, I had driven through Kamloops many times before and heard of Sun Peaks through friends, but I never had the chance to visit. British Columbia is fortunately blessed with a lifetime worth of ski resorts to visit—a good problem to have. Alas, after 4 years of Whistler Bike Park’s brake bumps and lineups began to wear on my psyche, and my wrists, I had to give it a chance. Just a short 4-hour drive from Whistler and our group of four curious road-trippers arrived late Friday evening not knowing what to expect.
As we arrived into town, the darkness shrouded our judgement, but by all accounts, the Sun Peaks Village reminded us all of Whistler. However, there was something different—no late-night antics, no bright lights—the “big city” of Whistler behind us, Sun Peaks seemed like more of a safe haven, akin to the small town ski-resort feel we had each grown up with.
After arriving we studied our wall-mounted resort map, trying to figure out how close to lift we were before we went to bed, but that exercise proved to be fruitless. We woke to discover our patio had a perfect view of the mountain—no need for maps, village guides, or calls to the front desk. We quickly realized we could put away the car keys, and no public transit would be necessary for the weekend—everything we needed was no more than a few pedal strokes away.
Riding our bikes into town we were greeted by a small but bustling farmers market, live painting, and a quaint village with everything you needed for a weekend in the mountains, and more. While it would have been easy to be distracted, it was an unspoken group decision to leave the amenities for now in exchange for what we really came for: the bike park.
The best part? Compared to the rough tracks of Whistler, it was like nobody had even ridden them.
By no means am I an experienced bike park rider—the opposite actually. For many years I’ve lightly used bike parks, driven away by crowds, dusty conditions, and the intimidating world that is the Whistler Bike Park. But, I knew immediately the experience at Sun Peaks would be different. With a non-existent lineup on a Saturday morning, the day was already off to an epic start.
We were able to warm up with one of the most enjoyable green runs any of us had ever ridden in Level Up, a winding track full of berms and rolls that anyone from an expert level rider to a beginner can enjoy. As the day went on, the park offered an easy progression with technical blue trails and mellow jumping trails to warm up on, and by the end of the day the stronger riders were stepping up to the large jump tracks, impressed with the quality and flow of each trail. The best part? Compared to the rough tracks of Whistler, it was like nobody had even ridden them.
After tiring ourselves out with lap after lap (it’s easy when there are no lineups to wait in) we had our eyes set on one of the most recent additions to the bike park. From the top of the lifts, pedal just a few strokes and the show begins: wildflowers engulf the sides of the road which quickly turns to single-track, and views of the lush, rolling green hills surrounding Sun Peaks, and even a touch of wildlife as we encountered two deer on our ride. The ride rates as a moderate blue, which was inviting to our tired crew of varied skill sets.
The trail brought us through the sub-alpine and into the beautiful rolling meadows beyond the sight of the top lift, acting as an escape from the now-metropolitan feeling trails of the bike park—funny how relativity has a way of making things happen like that. Just a few hours ago, the very trails of the lower mountain seemed like an escape, and now we were truly feeling disconnected up in the alpine. Besides the flowers, the epic views, and the world class single track—the best part? As we hooted and hollered down our final descent, roosting berms and popping rollers, we took advantage of every last bit of energy we had left, and the feeling was mutual—there was no better trail perhaps and no better ride from alpine to the base of the resort to personify our relaxing, yet adventurous trip to the little village of Sun Peaks. No doubt between any of us, we all left with one lasting thought: we’ll be back.—ML
For more information on how to book or buy lift tickets, check out the website https://www.sunpeaksresort.com/