Top 10 Trails at Whistler Bike Park
1 May 2014
May 16th is fast approaching and marks the 2014 opening date of the best bike park in the world. A Top Ten Best Trails list seems appropriate to feed the gravity beast within.
Whistler Bike Park has been a regular summer destination for me since 2007. I’ve ridden every trail in the park except for the Top of The World trail. So, when tasked with this article, I said “oh yeah, no problem, I got this!” However, after contemplating my list for a while, I began to question my decision to take-on this project. Essentially, I’m opening myself up to severe criticism on the subject and feeling a bit overwhelmed having to choose only 10 trails. There’s also the nagging question of Old School Gnar vs. New School Flow. Whistler has it all, and everything in between. Really, there are just too many choices. This confession isn’t making it any easier…so; let’s just get on with it!
TOP TEN TRAILS AT WHISTLER BIKE PARK
#10 – CRANK IT UP
Excluding A-Line, Crank It Up is the trail that most fledgling bike parks wish they had. Often imitated, but rarely duplicated. It’s the perfect jump/flow trail to get a warm-up lap from mid-mountain down. With good-sized tabletops, sweeping berms, forgiving wall-rides, and a spattering of wood features, Crank It Up will get the blood flowing and build skills necessary to safely move on to more challenging terrain. It’s still popular among more advanced riders to practice whips and scrubs or to get creative with line-choice as pro-rider Eric Porter demonstrates in the video below.
#9 – BLUE VELVET
Blue Velvet lives on the upper part of Whistler Mountain in the Garbonzo zone. It’s like Crank It Up’s younger brother that’s hip, fresh, and more likely to style-out on the slopes. The first true intermediate trail on the upper mountain, Blue Velvet has established itself as one of the longest trails as well, especially, since it swallowed up the section that was once called Black Velvet. Standout features include a wooden bridge that can be gapped, both wood & rock wall-rides, a couple of sizeable rock drops, hipped step-ups, and multiple big-flow senders throughout.
#8 – DEL BOCA VISTA
Every beginner trail at a bike park should be this good! It is so good, in fact, that many expert level riders now prefer to hop-on Del Boca Vista from the end of Dirt Merchant and join back up with A-Line further on down. "Boca" is just challenging enough for beginners to gain skills over rocks and roots, while attracting faster riders wanting to insert a little single-track ripping between their Dirt Merchant-to-ALine run. I hope bike parks around the world are taking notes on this one!
#7 – NINJA COUGAR
It’s true what they say about this trail; you really don’t need to pedal or use your brakes because the hand-shaped berms and rollers are absolutely PERFECT! Just pump and carve your way down the track while experiencing firsthand what Newtonian Physics is all about. Try to accelerate out of those berms and manual the rollers for maximum fun. Ninja Cougar will not disappoint.
#6 – FREIGHT TRAIN
Holding the distinction as the longest trail in the park, Freight Train’s signature feature has to be the step-up gap jump onto a freight container. Of course, once you’ve successfully gotten yourself up there, a sizeable drop is required to get back down. Freight Train is primarily a jump trail with wall rides, drops, and berms, but it also has some nice technical line choices available for those wanting a bit more challenge. This decidedly black-diamond rated trail is so jam-packed with features that there’s far too many to mention here. The video below will just have to speak for it.
#5 – JOYRIDE
Starting from mid-mountain after a short ride up on the Fitzsimmons Lift, Joyride is the original DH trail built on the mountain as part of Whistler Bike Park. That title alone makes it deserving of a spot on the top 10. Steep, challenging rock faces with multiple line choices and several thrilling wood features rightly bestow Joyride with its reputation as intense, technical, and exhilarating. Once you get your lines dialed, flow can be found and style expressed as the lift passengers high above get a free show. I can personally speak to the consequences of inadequately scouting this trail prior to trying to launch down the slope on instincts alone. Lets just say, I was able to grab ahold of a tree that saved me from a total "yard-sale" type crash. Joyride is, after all, a double-black diamond trail and merits respect.
#4 – IN DEEP
Every year at Crankworx, the Garbonzo DH race includes the entire trail that’s appropriately called In Deep. I seriously considered dropping out of the “Garbo” race in 2008 because Mother Nature had dumped buckets of rain on the course for 2 solid days before the start. Not to be taken lightly under dry conditions, In Deep can become treacherous in the wet. Ultimately, I had to just suck it up and hold-on for a wild ride down the track. Fortunately only crashing once and without injury. Intersecting, crisscrossing, tangled masses of roots litter the trail and lie in wait for a poorly placed front tire. While massive boulders create a conundrum of lines choices. There’s so much depth, contrast and texture to this trail that makes for a wonderfully scary experience. It’s not to be missed!
Technically, the video below does not feature the trail In Deep (there are a few scenes of riders on the trail). However, this rad video does figuratively represent what it means to be deeply involved at Whistler.
#3 – SCHLEYER
Another Whistler classic that never gets old! Over the years, the trail-crew has made minor changes, but the original flavor of Schleyer is alive and well. Mostly, some of the wood ladders have been removed and replaced with dirt. Starting from mid-mountain, Schleyer is the go-to technical DH-trail for us to get a fun rip with friends. It’s cool to lead or follow down the trail and play around with line choices. I think Schleyer is the perfect combination of gnar & flow. It’s also ideally situated on the mountain to link-up with a half dozen other awesome trails.
#2 – A-LINE
What’s to be said, that hasn’t already been said, about the most famous trail in the whole world? Well, for one, it just keeps getting better! Remember the much too-long shale straightaway section on Lower A-Line that burns up already tired arm & leg muscles? It is no longer! In fact, the geniuses at Whistler Bike Park have re-routed this section and added a huge new tabletop jump. Brilliant! Now, in its former incarnation, Steve Smith will forever hold the record time on the A-Line Air-DH race.
#1 – DIRT MERCHANT
Better than all the rest you say; even superior to the legend that is A-Line? I do have to confess that my affinity & aptitude for jumps and flow outweigh my fondness & competence on DH and tech styled terrain. Dirt Merchant is not as wide-open as A-Line, and it has more hipped features to get sideways. Also, the jumps have significant knuckles on the transitions that give the rider a sense of more open space below, as if it’s almost a true gap jump. And, there’s the “Creek Gap” at the end of Dirt Merchant, if you’re still feeling the need to go bigger!
By Trey Clay