Bikepack Cranbrook

June 12, 2024 | By Ali Becker

The city of Cranbrook serves as an important resupply point for some of the biggest bikepacking routes in all of Canada.

Long distance cyclists who pedal the BC portion of the Trans Canada Trail or the recently launched Great Northern Bikepacking Route, rely on the community as a place to stock up on food and camp gear, access bike parts and mechanics, and take advantage of the various opportunities to rest and recover. 

Riders who participate in local, self supported bikepacking races like the Lost Elephant, the Cranbrook Gravel Grind or the annual BC Epic, also count on Cranbrook for race day resources, accomodations, and essential resupply.

With hundreds of kilometres of great gravel roads surrounding town, a plethora of well-maintained bike trails and cycling corridors, and stunning landscapes everwhere you look, it's little wonder why Cranbrook has become a sought after destination on the worlds bikepacking map.

This spring, myself and my partner, Mathieu passed through this beautiful part of British Columbia on a transcontinental bikepacking trip from Victoria, BC to St.John’s, NL on the Great Northern Bikepacking Route. 

After an adventurous, snowy slog up and over the Grey Creek Pass, we were met with sunny, warm weather as we descended down into the welcoming Kootenay River Valley.

The Great Northern Bikepacking Route (GNBR) traverses the quiet, hard packed and enjoyable likes of St. Mary's mainline Forest Service Road before tying into the popular and paved North Star Rail Trail and rolls towards town.

After a much needed top up on our food bags and a few key pieces of adventure gear, we rolled into the Cranbrook Community Forest for some great singletrack cycling.

While the Trans Canada Trail Route takes in the impeccably built, fun, flowy and fabulous Chief Isadore Trail, the GNBR opts for the gentle, steady switchback climb up Pillsit to Roller Coaster and Juniper Lane, in order to take in the serene views of Sylvan Lake.

After weaving it's way through the towering Ponderosa pines, the route explores the edges of Idlewild Park before veering onto Gold Creek Road for a good gravel grind on the southeast side of town.

Before long, we branch off Gold Creek for an awesome, steep and lengthy descent down the mountainside towards the last 10 incredible kilometers of the famed Chief Isadore Trail.

The beautifully beamed corners, and rolling ribbons of tacky dirt singletrack in this section are made even more stunning by the continual vistas of the staggering, snow-covered peaks of the Steeples to the north.

Upon exiting the Chief, we were greeted by the exquisite, fast rolling rail grade of the Wardner Creek trail which gave way to the undulating Tokey Hills and eventually became a grass lined, thin strip of well packed gravel which led us to the wide, paved road into the little village of Wardner.

A short distance on Warder Road showed us the spectacular shores of Lake Koocanusa, and after enjoying the views from Wardner Provincial Park, we continued through the quaint town to find somewhere to rest our heads.

With an exciting day full of great weather, incredible scenery, and noteworthy riding in the books, we pitched our tent in the Wardner Community Park and watched the clear blue skies turn vibrant hues of pinks, purples and reds as the sun set over the westward hills in this little piece of East Kootenays paradise, marking the end to another perfect day.

For more info on the Great Northern Bikepacking Route:
To follow Ali & Mat on their transcontinental bike odyssey:


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