The north breeds a rugged independence and character that is undeniable. British Columbia is so big that we start calling things ‘north’ when you’re just halfway up the province, because past that, there’s not a whole lot besides wild rivers, forests and mountains. The east-to-west corridor of civilization linked by Highway 16 not only provides access to this incredible wilderness but is a vital link between communities who help each other in every aspect from mountain biking to breweries.
Traditionally the taste of the north was intensely domestic—lagers for loggers is a motto that is slowly changing with craft breweries slowly sculpting the palate of more adventurous beer drinkers towards flavourful IPAs and sours. The mountain bike scene is developing just as quickly due to passionate volunteers and accessibility to grants earmarked for the north. Each town, no matter how small, has embraced mountain biking as a gateway for tourism and to improve the lives of the residents.
Each community is as diverse as the landscape as you traverse the Chilcotin Plateau out to the Coast Mountains. Prince George is the largest town in northern BC and is watered by Trench and Crossroads Brewing. Both are pushing the limits of traditional beer styles and local favourites like the Fang IPA and Clearcut Lager and are perfect after riding the fast flow and jumps at Pidherny.
The mountains begin to grow as you get to the quaint Bavarian ski town of Smithers—the ‘East Van of northern BC’. It’s no surprise that the beer selection is more cosmopolitan here with Smithers and Bulkley Valley Brewing, but it couldn’t be more different from the riding with the steep and technical trails of the Bluff and Ptarmigan areas taking their heritage back to ’90s North Shore riding.
Finally, as you reach Terrace, the golden dirt and granite slabs are akin to its southern neighbours and is home to one of the fastest-growing bike networks in BC. And what mountain bike destination would be complete without a brewery? Sherwood Mountain fits the bill with a packed covered patio. No matter how you slice it, northern BC has its own flavour built from hard work and helping hands and is well worth taking the time to explore.
We acknowledge that we work, live, and ride on the unceded traditional territories of the Kitselas, Kitsumkalum, Gidimt’en, Witsuwit’en, and Lheidli T’enneh First Nations. This Acknowledgement comes with our support for these nations’ efforts to reclaim and revitalize their territories.
Learn more about the BC Ale Trail and Mountain Biking BC.
Credits: Ben Haggar @benhaggarphoto / Mike Gamble @mikegamble
Featured Breweries: Prince George – Crossroads Brewing & Distillery, Trench Brewing. Terrace – Sherwood Mountain Brewing. Smithers – Smithers Brewing, Bulkley Valley Brewing.
Featured Trails: Prince George – Otter Alley, Dixie. Terrace – Lichen Loop, Shangri-la. Smithers – Huckin’ Eh, Penetralia.