Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mountain Biking: Cypress Hills

Trip Date: August 2017

Rising from a sea of endless prairie the forest-covered Cypress Hills in the southeast corner of the province contain the best-kept mountain biking secret in Alberta’s cycling community. Mountain biking and the prairies go about as well together as lamb and tuna fish, but thankfully the highest point between the Rocky Mountains and Canada’s east coast is changing all that.

Welcome to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
Prepping for an amazing ride
Starting off
View from the saddle
Climbing, Climbing, Climbing!
The 670 Collective, a local tight-knit mountain bike club so named for the elevation of downtown Medicine Hat, have been building trails in the hills above Elkwater since 2012 when the club was formed. I camped in Cypress Hills last summer and explored several of the trails, but left wanting more. Luckily I found myself there again in early August on assignment for Seekers Media. My task was to ride the trails and report my findings, which I’m happy to say are all positive. For this visit I linked up with Kurtis Peters, the president of 670 Collective, who agreed to show me around and be my official tour guide for the afternoon. Over the next 2.5 hours Kurtis guided me through the varied terrain that encompasses the region while we rode some amazing single-track. My must rides include the Mystery Trails, Cobble Miner, and Last Grizzly, so named for the last remaining Great Plains Grizzly that was shot and killed nearby back in 1890.

View through the trees
The boys out on the trail
Cruising down Last Grizzly
There's even a couple log jumps to keep you entertained!
The view from my Rock Shox!
After the ride, we found ourselves at the Camp Cookhouse, a phenomenal restaurant that serves local cuisine all made from scratch. Do yourself a favour and order the Camp Burger next time you’re there. And what mountain biking adventure would be complete without a few bevy’s? My favourties came from the two local breweries in Medicine Hat; Burnside Blood Orange Ale from Medicine Hat Brewing Company and Chinook Wind Session Ale from Hell’s Basement Brewery.

One of the Firerock Cabins; my home for the night
The cabins offer great views of Elkwater Lake
Panoramic shot of Reesor Lake
After dinner I enjoyed a scenic drive to Reesor Lake before calling it a day at one of Alberta Parks’ newest additions; the Firerock Cabins. In June of this year Alberta Parks added five lake-side cabins to the Firerock Campground. These stand-alone units can be rented by the night and offer guests an alternative to the more traditional style of camping. I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking to try something a little different and they’re perfect for families.

A mother Mule Deer and her twin fawns scamping up the hillside across the lake
A Red-Tailed Hawk perched on top of a tree
This White-Tailed Buck is still covered in velvet
The tall grass provides excellent camouflage for this mother and her fawn
Anyway, to check out the full story about my latest trip to Cypress Hills please visit the ZenSeekers website. You can also start planning your next biking adventure with Tourism Medicine Hat or connect with the 670 Collective on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Also don't forget to register for the Battle Creek Showdown, taking place later this month.

Sunset at Reesor Lake 
The sun setting on an incredible day in Cypress Hills
Don’t let mountain biking’s best-kept secret pass you by, starting arranging your next big two-wheeled adventure today!

Here's a little promo video I created about my mountain biking adventure in Cypress Hills

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