Wheels are spinning, dirt’s flying and my heart is pounding. I’m hanging onto my handlebars and enjoying the total freedom of riding mountain bike trail networks that reach forever. Racing downhill, I gear down madly for the steep climb ahead. My quads burn as I churn up the ascent. Cranking hard to the top of a ramp, my wheels leave the ground and I’m airborne. Nailed the landing too – what a perfect jump.
Mountain biking in Alberta attracts enthusiasts and Olympic hopefuls from around the world. Whether you want to aim for glory, test your skills in a challenging bike park, or just hit the open trails, you’re in for some serious fun.
Hinton Bike Park
There's something for everyone on the 100 km (62 mi) of backcountry trails at the Hinton Bike Park. Located halfway between Edmonton and Jasper National Park, it’s our favorite place to stop and burn off some energy on a summer road trip. Ride the hidden trails with the family, or test your abilities in the skills area where you can polish your style on the jumps, teeter-totters and skinnies – narrow logs, planks or boards. Whether you’re a gnarly novice or an extreme daredevil, Hinton is a wilderness paradise and mountain biker’s dream.
WinSport Canada Olympic Park
All ages can tackle tricks at WinSport Canada Olympic Park in Calgary. My kids have been taking lessons here ever since they were out of training wheels. Choose from a half-day, full day or season pass. Bring your own bike, or rent one and all of the safety gear. Learn to ride on dirt in the Discover Park and then head to the Skills Centre to practice drops and skinnies. You’ll find trails that range from beginner’s green to totally advanced double black diamond.
Canmore Nordic Centre
Whenever we’re in Kananaskis Country, in the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies, we ride the extensive trail loops at Canmore Nordic Centre, hoping to spot an Olympic athlete in training. When the kids were smaller we’d stick to the wide dirt roads and pull our bike trailer. Now we hit the rolling cross-country ski trails, which are narrower and more of a challenge. The Skills Park is also a fun hangout, even if you just watch the talent. It’s free and has everything you need to try out new tricks. Trail Sports, located onsite, offers drop-in lessons, skills camps, rentals and end of season bike sales.
Alberta Mountain Bike Trails
The fun doesn’t stop there though. In the northern Rockies, we ride at Athabasca Lookout Nordic Centre where there are trails for all abilities as well as spectacular views of the Canadian Rockies. Devon in Central Alberta, Strathcona County outside of Edmonton and Red Deer in Northern Alberta also have radical rails and cool trails.