Mountain Biking on the North Shore

An Introduction by Nathan 


Well, what can I say about mountain biking on the North Shore.  This place is biking heaven.  The North Shore is world renown for its mountain biking opportunities.  I've seen articles on the North Shore in magazines from the United States, and even the United Kingdom.  Before I go any further, I better explain what I mean by the North Shore.  The North Shore is made up of three biking mountains (going from west to east):  Cypress, Fromme, and Seymour, each has its own style of trails.  The trails on each mountain vary in difficulty, going from easy greens to triple blacks (for professionals only).  I will tell you about all three mountains, but first I want to say something about the type of bike you'll need for the North Shore trails.

* Green circle runs
Well, if you like gravel roads and paths or wide dirt trails, the greens are perfect for you.  Greens are the easiest of all the trails.  They usually don't have stunts and even if they do, you can avoid them if you want.  For these trails you could get away with basically any type of bike.  The bike you take can even be the old Trek 780 (my Dad's); you don't really need suspension on your bike.  The green trails are more for leisurely riders and are usually very scenic--great for dates!!!  Get going and enjoy. 

* Blue square runs
On these runs you can expect more challenge than the green circle ones.  Blue square runs have loose rock, steeper sections, narrower trails, and more small stunts, which are also not mandatory.  For trails like these you may want a bike with some suspension.  If not, the rocks will start hurting your hands, and by the time you're finished you'll be feeling every small pebble.  To say nothing of the wear and tear on your bike.  When it comes down to it, any bike with a shock will do on these trails.  (I managed these runs on a Norco Scrambler.)  Hold on, you're in for a fun ride.

* Black diamond runs
These runs are for experienced riders only.  They're a lot different from the blues and greens.  Black diamond runs are jam-packed with mandatory stunts like drops, jumps, and ladders.  You can't get away with a cheap bike on a black diamond run.  You'll need suspension, preferably dual suspension.  No kidding, these trails can really punish your bike.  Be prepared to launch up to five-foot drops and ride ladders above the ground.  If you take your chances on the Trek or Wal-Mart special you could come home with your bike in two pieces, or worse yet, hurt yourself.  Grab hold, you're in for a tuff ride.

* Double black diamond runs
These trails are for experts only.  A typical double black diamond run has stunts like skinny ladders five feet in the air, five-foot drops, and pit jumps left and right.  To survive these you will need a dual suspension with preferably over five inches of travel both ways.  Travel is the amount of space your shock can move.  For example, if your front shock has five inches of travel, it has about five inches of give in either direction.  Dual suspensions are prime for these tuff and grueling trails.  But I've also seen guys riding hardtails (only front suspension) with no problems.  I should know, I'm one of them.  No average Joe can do these trails. You've got to have talent. 

* Triple black diamond runs
Well, just by the title of this category you can guess how these trails are going to look.  Professionals only!  Mandatory stunts are everywhere.  Stunts can range from a skinny ladder 15 feet in the air to a 15-foot rock drop.  You need a good bike for these trails, like a dual suspension with seven inches or more of travel both ways.  You've got to be amazing to do these trails.

Talking about amazing, I saw Dangerous Dan and the Flow Riders do some pretty unbelievable stunts at Edgemont Village one weekend.  Dangerous Dan actually rode on top of a picket fence five feet in the air.  Guys were launching jumps with no hands or legs holding on to their bikes.  The one stunt no one could do was the next-to-impossible chain suspended in the air.  Can you imagine riding a two-inch wide tire on top of a half-inch wide chain link fence?  My four-year-old brother, Coleman, said he's going to do the chain when he gets bigger.  I'm sure our Mom can hardly wait. 

Now let's take a look at the three North Shore mountains.

1. Mount Seymour

Mount Seymour is by far my favorite of all the mountains.  Almost every single morning my friends and I wake up early to go biking up there.  (That is when we don't have school, and it's not raining or snowing).  Mount Seymour is a great mountain because it has a wide variety of trails ranging from greens to double black diamond runs.  Our favorite run is called CBC.  It has a whole bunch of different stunts you can try:  nice big ladders, drops, jumps, and even two skinny boards five feet in the air.

By the way, it's a good idea to wear arm and leg armour.  You can get chest armour too.  A helmet is mandatory, and full-faced ones are the best.  When we went up to Whistler in August I saw a guy being carried into an ambulance on a stretcher.  He wasn't moving.  I don't want to be him.

The last thing I want to mention about Mount Seymour is the road.  If you're nice to your Mom, maybe she'll drive you, and you won't have to ride your bike up the hill.  You see mountain bikes are not road bikes like the Tour de France.  They are heavy and way harder to ride uphill.  My bike weighs about forty pounds.  Good luck pushing that up a big mountain.  Whatever your method, remember when you do get to the top enjoy the ride down.

2. Fromme Mountain

Well, what can I say about Fromme Mountain-the biking God.  The runs here go from greens to triple black professionals only trails.  Fromme has a lot of green runs.  I myself like a challenge, so I steer away from the gravel paths and manicured trails.  But to tell you the truth, I started on these (although I'd never admit it).  And, if you're a beginner, don't sweat it, there are plenty of people riding the green runs.  I've seen people hiking on the greens too.  I wouldn't recommend hiking along the more sophisticated runs.  You could be in for a big surprise.

If you like intense riding, Fromme is the mountain for you.  It has two triple black diamond runs. One of the trails is called Flying Circus.  It was built by Dangerous Dan and the Flow Riders. This run is filled with skinny ladders and huge drops.  There is no trail below the ladders, so it's impossible to walk.  Unless you have amazing balancing skills and can jump 10-foot drops, I don't suggest this run for walkers or bikers.

But Fromme does have some fun runs for the average black diamond biker, Upper Oilcan and Espresso are two of them.  They have medium-sized stunts and are really fun to go down.  The entrance to Fromme Mountain is at the top of a road called Mountain Highway.  If you're not familiar with the North Shore, Mountain Highway is a major road leading off The Upper Levels Highway.  If you get lost, just ask any local and they'll point you in the right direction.  This is a great mountain, when me and my friends go up, we end up arguing about what run we are going take down.  One thing's for sure, it's going to be fun.

Fromme Mountain Trails (East side)

Fromme Mountain Trails (West side)

3. Cypress Mountain

Well, honestly if you want the truth about Cypress:  I've ridden it twice and both times it wasn't great.  Some of the trails we went on were just so-so, and quite a few of the stunts were broken or in rotting condition.  One trail my friend and I went down had a bunch of broken ladders and it was steep with sharp corners.  You could tell nobody had been on it for some time because you couldn't even see tire marks.  We haven't found anything good yet on Cypress, but there are biking maps on Cypress that you can buy, so there must be some decent trails up there.

Speaking of Cypress, there is some very cool news that has just come out.  In the summer of 2005 Cypress will be opening a bike park.  It will have trails for all riding ability levels.  I can hardly wait.  I'll be able to get tons of great runs in, all on the same day.

Well, that's it for now.  Keep a lookout for my follow-up articles taking a more in-depth look at each of the three mountains. 

Age group:

I've seen all ages of people mountain biking.  The bottom line is you gotta be in good shape.  Children need to be supervised by an adult.

Expense rating:

Beware mountain biking is expensive (and addicting).  A starter bike, for example a Kona Stuff, costs about $1,000.  Add to this safety equipment such as armour, helmet, etc. and you'll be looking for a part-time job.


I started out a couple of years ago, and now I'm hooked.  I live to ride.  It's hard to describe the feeling, but when you're out in the fresh air, and have just finished an awesome ride it's the best feeling.


Get used to this idea: every time you take your bike out for a ride, you're spending money.  It's called wear and tear.  Everything breaks down sooner or later.  I cracked the back half of my frame, and it cost $500 to replace.  Even a small nut cost me $5.  You get the picture.


Here are some web sites where you can get more information about mountain biking on the North Shore:
Dangerous Dan & The Flowriders

North shore bike shops:

On Top Bike Shop
Cove Bikes
John Henry The Bicycle Man
Steed Cycles 
Dizzy Cycles

** Like all sports, mountain biking can be dangerous.  Don't even think about doing it unless you have the proper bike, safety equipment (armour, gloves, full face helmet, etc.), training, and information (maps, biking etiquette).  Never bike beyond your ability.  Exercise caution always.  Ride with a friend. **

Check out my other mountain bike activities: Mountain Biking at Apex Mountain - Penticton, Okanagan, Mountain Biking on Mount Washington - Courtenay, Vancouver Island, and Mountain Biking on Silver Star Mountain - Vernon, Okanagan.


The North Shore (North and West Vancouver)


Spring, Summer, and Fall

Educational highlights:

For one you're outdoors, so you learn a lot about nature.  Biking also teaches about the laws of physics.  I learned quickly how to repair my own bike so I could save money.

Fun for the adult?:

There's a lot of stuff I like that my parents don't, and vice versa.  The older I get, the harder it is for me and my parents to find activities we like doing together.  Luckily, mountain biking bridges that gap.  My Dad never says "no", when I ask him go with me.  And get a load of this, Dad wants to trade in his old Trek for a mountain bike.