In early June we headed to Vernon, BC to a rental property Sharon owns on Okanagan Lake. With Sharon restricted to the couch while her knee healed from an ACL reconstruction surgery I figured I might as well check out some of the local mountain bike trails. My buddy K-Dawg dropped by for a visit from Alberta and brought his new 29er and a bunch of enthusiasm.
I visited the local bike shops to get some trail suggestions and maps. All of them were helpful, but Sky Ride was the best stocked and the most in the know for dirt riding. If you are a mountain biker and find yourself in Vernon BC I would drop in at Sky Ride and say hi.
K-Dawg is a novice rider so we decided to hit up Ellison Provincial Park since it features some easier less technical trails.
We were happy to find out that Ellison was literally right next door to the property Sharon owns. So we could skip the car and just ride from our door less than 1km to the trailhead. The map we got was great for showing the trail network, but not so great for actually finding where the trails are in the park. If you end up on the west side of the main road along the lake where the campsites are you need to go back to the road and head north a couple hundred metres. You’ll see a parking lot on the left in a gravel pit and a map board for the bike trails.
We were pleasantly surprised by how much fun these trails are. They are buff and swoopy with many great turns and twists. The lack of technical features meant both of us could ride together despite significant differences in experience. There is some climbing required to get to the top of the trails network, but none of it is terribly hard. This is the perfect place to bring a beginner and get their feet wet MTBing.
We also rode the nature trail near the campground. There were no anti-bike signs, but I am not sure if bikes are really allowed. We it’s a nice trail with great views of the lake and we didn’t see any hikers on it so no damage done.
The trails are well signed so it’s hard to get lost. I found the blue and black trails weren’t overly difficult. You can take a new-ish rider on any of them without too many problems. It’s big enough for 2hrs of solid riding before you start repeating trails, but they are so much fun riding them in both directions isn’t boring.
I liked Ellison Park so much I went back for a second session on my own. It more than makes up for a lack of technical challenge with super fun woods riding. The fact it’s so close to Sharon’s place means I will be back with my MTB next time we visit Vernon.
The trail map isn’t essential, but buying one supports the local bike advocacy group so it’s a nice thing to do.
This was K-Dawg’s first taste of real trail riding and I think he’s hooked. Next time I am visiting Alberta I’ll have to get him out on some of his more local trails so he can explore and build his skills.
I also visited the larger and more technical trail network at Kalamalka Lake Provinical Park – click to read about it.