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As the Rocky Mountains, which give us Americans so much incredible mountain biking, extend north through the United States, they don’t stop at the border. In fact, many people think they only get grander and more beautiful on the northern side of that imaginary dotted line that lies horizontally across the continent. The Canadian Rockies, while perhaps not having the quantity of trails south of the border, are more than a match in beauty and sheer back country feel for those seeking solitude as part of their crank-turning adventures.

The spine of the Rockies in southern Canada separates the provinces of British Columbia to the west and Alberta to the east, and the eastern side harbors many miles of magnificent singletrack. Here are five of Alberta’s best, including long-standing classics and even some new school flow:

Big Sweat/Valley of the Five Lakes (Jasper)

True to its name, the Valley of the Five Lakes gives the rider a series of gorgeous lakes at which to marvel while pedaling through the incredible scenery west of Jasper. In addition to the marvelous lakes and surrounding environs, this route also has rocks, rollers, and rugged descents, making for a classic old school ride through old growth forests and valleys.

“We really enjoy this ride and have done this in almost every season, with regular mountain bikes and fat bikes. There are so many scenic views and some technical stuff.” – chuckpelley

 Jumping Pound/Cox Hill (Kananaskis)

The Jumping Pound/Cox Hill ride combines two of the best trails in Alberta’s Kananaskis Country into one glorious point-to-point shuttle, or a fine loop by adding on the Powderface Trail dirt road. This is one of Alberta’s long time classic routes, and for good reason. Like many great rides, it starts with a killer climb and finishes with a wicked descent, but in between the rider is treated to miles and miles of remote, backcountry ridge top riding with continually-stunning views of the rugged Canadian Rockies.

“As you ride up from the south, say hello to the cows, then get ready to climb. You’ll eventually be rewarded with amazing views, and fantastic ridge-top singletrack. After passing the summit of Jumping Pound Mountain, the trail descends, before climbing up again to Cox Hill, where an amazingly-fast and fun descent drops you back down to the road.” – bikecanmore.ca

Moose Mountain (Bragg Creek)

Moose Mountain is an extensive network that offers excellent variety for just about any rider. It includes gnarly downhills and connectivity to miles of quality cross country riding. Whether you want to don armor or spandex, this trail network will entertain you for a day or repeated visits.

“Overall a great trail network, mainly catering to the AM/downhill crowd. A lot of technical features (jumps, drops, and wooden platforms).  Most if not all the features can be ridden around and there are areas that are suitable for beginners to intermediate as well. The network links up to the Bragg Creek trails (more XC oriented), which are also a hoot.  – aaen

Razor’s Edge (Canmore)

Razor’s Ridge. Photo courtesy of Dustin Leclerc

Just down the road from the tourist hub of Banff, lies Canmore, a much more laid back and homey hamlet that just happens to be surrounded by killer singletrack.  For advanced and adventurous riders, the best of these challenging options is the Razor’s Edge Trail, which can be turned into a loop with the equally-popular Prairie View trail (somewhat misnamed as it has more views of the Rockies than the nearby prairies).

“An awesomely-technical test piece with amazing views, Razor’s Edge is like no other trail in the Canmore area. It starts off gently through the forest, with singletrack traversing along Barrier Mountain to gain the ridge. Once you reach the ridge, things start getting more intense, with sections of slab, tricky technical climbs, and fun descents. Finally, you emerge from the forest onto a long and frequently-exposed descent through rock and slab, with spectacular views of the surrounding peaks.” – bikecanmore.ca

Tunnel Mountain (Banff)

(photo: Jeff Barber)

Canada has a much more open attitude than the United States with regard to cycling use in National Parks, and the Tunnel Mountain Tech Trails are a shining example of this philosophy. While the network isn’t large in terms of mileage, it makes excellent use of natural terrain and augments that terrain with man-made features.

“Epic trail. A playground that I could do over and over. I rode to this via the Coastline and Teddy Bears Playground trails, which were both fantastic in their own right.” – Flamchik

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# Comments

  • kboss

    Finally a more accurate list than previous articles which list Strathcona Park in Edmonton as the best place to ride in Alberta?? (which is ridiculous, as clearly mountain riding is superior to a city on the prairies)!

  • mongwolf

    Thanks for the write up John. My oldest son and his family are moving up to Calgary in about a year, so I guess I get to add some cool new trails to the ole’ Trails Wish List.

  • dpb1997

    I just did Cox Hill and Jumping Pound today from Elbow falls up Powder Face across to Prairie Link to the gavel road. A total 42.5-km. The weather changed for the worst, real cold atop Cox Hill. Enjoyable ride though.

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