Trails, Tailgates & Apres Bike

May 28, 2024 | By Cranbrook Tourism

Chewbacca Connector

Cranbrook, BC, stands out in the Kootenays for its early start to the mountain biking season. While neighbouring regions are still shaking off winter, Cranbrook’s trails are bustling. Known as the sunniest city in British Columbia, our trails are ready for action well before others in the area. Mountain biking here is more than a pastime, it's a key part of Cranbrook’s culture.

The après bike scene in Cranbrook adds to the city’s vibrant biking culture. After spending a day navigating the Star Wars trails, tackling the downhill runs of Green Chicken, or cruising through the South Star Recreation Area, bikers often gather to unwind. Local spots become hubs where you can enjoy a cold beer, burgers, or wings. It’s common to see groups setting up tailgate BBQs at the trailheads, making every ride a social event.

Firehall - Photo by Aaron Hagen 

Trails & Brews

For many riders, the draw of Cranbrook is deeply intertwined with the Star Wars-themed trails in the Cranbrook Community Forest, particularly on the Fraggle Rock side. These paths offer an engaging mix of flowy cross-country trails and more daring black diamond challenges designed for experienced riders. Highlights include Chewbacca Rocka, Ewok and Roll, Pod Racer, R2D Tour, and Loop Skywalker. Among these, Chewbacca Rocka stands out, a favourite for its steady climb followed by a rolling 5km downhill ride. Not to be overlooked, the Padawan Trail around Eager Hill provides a 4.3km loop that welcomes newer riders, families, or those on accessible bikes with its double-wide path.

After a day of vigorous riding, what better way to wind down than with a craft beer from one of Cranbrook’s local breweries? The Heid Out & Fisher Peak Brewery offers local favourites like Elephant Run IPA and Prospector Pilsner. With bike stands within eyesight and a welcoming patio, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy the evening sun.

If you’re more in the mood for a retro vibe meet European Beerhall mixed with some lively entertainment, head over to Encore Brewing Co. Located in a revamped bowling alley, this vibrant brewery serves up a blend of bowling, arcade fun, and homemade pizzas, paired with exceptional local beers. It’s a must-visit for post-ride pints.

Cranbrook Gravel Grind - Photo by Aiden Jones

Tailgates & Trailheads

In Cranbrook, tailgating at trailheads is quickly becoming a beloved ritual among cyclists. With good reason, setting up a BBQ at the trailheads provides a perfect spot for riders to enjoy multiple laps with breaks for well-earned replenishments. Here, biking is more than a way to be active and riding down the flowing trails, it’s a social event and Cranbrook takes pride in it.

But a successful tailgate hinges on the right supplies. For all your BBQ needs, Rick’s Fine Meats & Sausage is the go-to. This specialty shop stocks a range of natural, organic, gluten-free, and sugar-free options in deli meats and sausages, ideal for any post-ride gathering. Don’t forget to swing by one of Cranbrook’s liquor stores to pick up a pack of Naito Beer, the locally brewed gluten-free beer that’s a favourite among both locals and visitors.

Wondering where to set up your tailgate? Popular spots include the trailheads at Fraggle Rock, Isadore Canyon Trail, and South Star Recreation Area. Just be sure to check local guidelines on safe BBQ practices and fire restrictions, and always practice Leave No Trace principles by packing out what you bring in.

Padawan - By Nick Nault

Downhill & Rejuvenate

The Cranbrook Community Forest boasts over 200km of trails, offering a splendid mix of uptrack and downhill routes. For those in search of smooth, flowing rides, trails like Pilsit, Elephant Run, and Roller Coaster are prime choices. If you're after something with a bit more intensity, give Green Chicken, More Poultry, or the challenging Chewbacca Rocka a go.

After a thrilling day on the trails, a bit of relaxation is in order. Western Financial Place, a multi-sport public facility, provides the perfect setting with its hot tub, sauna, and steam room—ideal for soothing sore muscles and unwinding.

To cap off a few days of exhilarating rides, head over to Firehall Kitchen & Tap for a selection of local brews and hearty meals. For a laid-back pub atmosphere, Fenwick & Baker is the place to be. Don't miss out on their signature dishes, "The Hobo" at Firehall and "The Baker" at Fenwick & Baker.

Cranbrook stands out as a premier destination for mountain biking enthusiasts, thanks to its unique combination of well-maintained trails, vibrant social scenes, and exceptional local amenities. Whether you're tearing through the challenging routes in the Community Forest or unwinding with friends at a local brewery, Cranbrook offers an unmatched experience. Remember to respect the environment and local regulations to ensure these trails and community spaces remain pristine for years to come. Enjoy the rides, the friendships, and the exceptional tastes of Cranbrook, where every visit feels like a new adventure.