Is Rossland a quaint ski town with some of the best cycling available? Or, is it a serious road and mountain biking destination that just happens to host the snow-covered steeps of Red Mountain? Rossland is all of this and a fun town with plenty of pubs, restaurants, B&B’s, and arts and cultural events to round out an otherwise adrenaline packed trip.
Rossland is located just across the US and Canadian border, about 127 miles north of Spokane and is best known as the home of Red Mountain Resort. Nowadays, almost as soon as the snow stops flying, Rossland becomes a serious bike town.
The main attraction for mountain bikers in the Rossland area is the Seven Summits Trail. It was Bike Magazine’s Trail of the Year for 2007. Named for the seven mountain summits that can be seen (or climbed, if that’s your thing) from the trail, it can best be described by these seven adjectives.
The Seven Summits Trail is truly “epic.” IMBA (International Mountain Biking Association) has awarded the trail its Epic classification. The length, almost 23 miles including the downhill Dewdney Trail section, makes for a full day of riding. The first major section of the trail is “breathtaking” – literally. Estimates vary as to how much elevation gain is actually earned, but it’s close to 4000 feet of lung-busting climbing. It’s definitely “challenging.” Sections of the singletrack trail have significant exposure. Rocky ascents and technical descents are interspersed throughout the route. The mountains surrounding Rossland are also a “historic” treasure trove of old mining roads, routes, and trails that date back to the turn of the last century. And the trail is “beautiful,” with amazing views, even through the cloud layer or fog that often settles on the peaks and ridges. The Seven Summits Trail can also be “dangerous,” especially if you’re not prepared. Be sure to pick up a trail map from Revolution Cycles on Columbia Ave. downtown Rossland before you begin your adventure. It’s easy for riders to get separated (cell phone coverage is limited) and flat tires are common. There are only a few rideable routes back to town if you get into trouble, and there isn’t any water along the trail. And perhaps best of all, the Seven Summits Trail is a “local” trail that everyone in Rossland seems to know and respect. While this trail will take most riders four to eight hours to complete, local legend has it that fit riders can ride the entire trail, starting and finishing in Rossland, in 3 and a half hours!
Once you have the Seven Summits trail checked off, Revolution Cycles has a chalkboard that lists all the other local trails with difficulty ratings and status updates. “When I moved to Rossland 20 years ago, the mountain bike movement was somewhat fringe,” says Tyler Merringer. He and his wife, Caroline, own Revolution Cycles and are almost always in the shop helping customers and offering sage advice about Rossland’s cycling opportunities.
“The number of local riders has more than doubled and the improvements in bike technology and the maturation of the trail building scene has made the trails in and around Rossland more accessible and enjoyable for all rider skill levels,” Tyler added. And, if your bike took a beating on one of the local trails, or needs a check-up before you head out, the staff at Revolution Cycles will take great care of you and your ride. More trail info at: www.revolutioncycles.ca
Rossland also features not one but two mountain bike skills parks. Need to work on drops, skinnies, or features? One park is geared toward wooden features and is a great place to build confidence, while the other, somewhat larger park, is more of a dirt-jump park and better suited for expert riders. These parks will definitely build and test your skills.
Road and Railgrade Biking
Mountain biking is not the only cycling attraction in and around Rossland. You’ll see almost as many vehicles loaded with road bikes as mountain bikes. If it’s pavement you prefer, there are multiple popular routes that will satisfy every level of roadie, especially if you like climbs. Almost every route out of Rossland will require some degree of climbing. One of the most popular rides is up Highway 3B to Nancy Greene Lake, a sub alpine lake inside Nancy Greene Provincial Park. The scenery and a cool dip in the lake are sure to take your mind off the pain. Tourism Rossland lists several other popular road biking routes around Rossland: www.tourismrossland.com/road-biking-0
Also popular in the area is riding the Kettle Valley Railway (KVR). Those of you who enjoy the Route of the Hiawatha Bike Trail in north Idaho will surely want to check this ride out. Like the Hiawatha, it is an abandoned railway grade that is never at more than a 2.2% grade but includes tunnels and white-knuckle trestle crossings. Riding the KVR is a great way to get some exercise and absorb some of Rossland’s mining history. www.kettlevalleyrailway.ca/
Written by Brent Emmingham