Bucket List Inland NW Backcountry Rides

Editor’s Note: All of these backcountry trails are home to grizzly and/or black bears, so follow the advice of experts and be prepared and bear aware.

Whether you’re a shuttle enthusiast or a pedal purist, the Inland Northwest has no shortage of epic backcountry singletrack. The four rides below should be on any backcountry rider’s bucket list.

Seven Summits Trail

This 18-mile north-to-south traverse of the Rossland Range (of which Rossland’s Red Mountain Ski Resort is a part) in southeast BC is perhaps the premier backcountry mountain bike ride in the region. In recognition of its destination-worthy dirt, the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) awarded it the Epic designation. Usually done as a point-to-point, the Seven Summits has it all: alpine terrain; long, grinding climbs (nearly 3,600 feet of cumulative elevation gain); and no-less-taxing talus-strewn descents.

Kettle Crest

Eastern Washington’s premier subalpine bikeable route, the 45-mile Kettle Crest Trail, is outside the realm of one-day rides for all but the most hardy (or foolhardy). But Sherman Pass, which bisects the trail, allows for manageable out-and-back rides that start high and stay high. South of the pass, the 5.5-mile loop around Sherman Peak samples the scenery, and it’s easy to extend the ride south for as long as your legs allow. With some shuttle-rig logistics, the web of Kettle Crest feeder trails open up a world of point-to-point possibilities.

North Fork Silver Creek

Descending almost 2,900 feet in five miles off Abercrombie Mountain, northeast of Colville, the North Fork Silver Creek Trail boasts some of the best backcountry aspen groves around—if you can slow down enough to notice them. With narrow, rough tread and tight switchbacks, this is a true backcountry experience. A trailhead campground gives riders the option to ride this trail’s rougher sibling to the south.

Ruby Ridge

Oftentimes, shuttle logistics are the sticking point for point-to-point backcountry routes. The Ruby Ridge ride, northeast of Bonners Ferry, is about as good as it gets: a mostly-paved forest road to a pass on the Idaho/Montana state line. From Canuck Pass, the trail traverses subalpine tech for nearly three miles before diving into a forearm-frying six-mile 3,700-foot descent on buffed singletrack. This is grizzly country, but the hoots and whoops this ride induces should give them plenty of notice.

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