We hit the Smithers Riverside Municipal Campground after a very long day of driving on Weds September 4th. It took us 8 hours to travel down the bulk of the Stewart-Cassiar highway due to road conditions, construction and a small adventure in search of gas. At $29.00 per night (electricity, water, sewer, firewood, showers & wi-fi) it is a great place for families. There is a fabulous all wood sustainable playground for kids that is within sight of every campsite so the kids can wander off safely.
Smithers is a town of 6000 people located half way between Prince Rupert and Prince George along the Yellowhead Highway (Hwy 16) in Northern BC. It is a vibrant mountain community nestled between the Skeena river and Hudson Bay Mountain. It came about in 1913 as a divisional point in the Grand Trunk Railway and was named the first incorporated village in BC in 1921. It shifted to a full fledged “town” in 1967 as the economy steadily grew through commercialization of local agricultural & mineral resources as well as the development of a tourism industry.
Thursday morning we got up bright and early and hit the school books for an hour to get that out of the way. We then spent the morning enjoying the great biking (and running/walking) trail system in town as well as checking out the local bike shops to get trail maps and pick up a few odds and ends.
The mountain biking in Smithers is best described as “Old School”. There are 3 distinct riding areas around town and all are downhill trails with mostly black and blue level trails. We chose to ride The Bluff trails as they seemed the most family friendly. Unfortunately they are also the one area that is not accessible via shuttle. A five km ride was 3km uphill and 2km downhill.
The lushness of the forest and sunny weather made for a great afternoon out riding. The green run “Uphill track” made it feasible for Hunter to make it up to the top of the hill, however riding with kids results in lots of breaks so it took us close to an hour to climb what the bike shop estimated was a 15-20 minute ride.
We rode a mixture of black and blue trails down and ended up doing more walking than riding on the black sections due to the combination of steepness and trail erosion. It had rained the day before and there wasn’t a great amount of drainage built into the trail system. The wooded features were fun to check out and we certainly enjoyed walking and running over them. Somewhat sketchy in nature, we decided to acknowledge that the riding of these would be over our heads!