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No shortage of motivation for cycling in or near Cranbrook

By Michele Leyenaar and Janice Strong

CRANBROOK – As if being nestled in the middle of the Rocky Mountain trench isn’t enough to want to explore Cranbrook and area, you can do so quickly – on your bicycle!
With an endless supply of trails, paved or not, the East Kootenay trail systems provide a diverse way to explore the sights.


Here are a few paved trails to try:

• 1. Rotary Way – This short trail allows for a gentle ride in the city of Cranbrook. It is a cycling and walking trail from the Isadore Canyon trailhead and south to Kinsmen Park. It mostly winds along Joseph Creek through the areas of the city east of downtown. Rotary Way connects with the Cranbrook Loop which is a total of 16 kms on both paved and unpaved trails

• 2. North Star Rails to Trails – This 28-km stretch of old rail bed that connects Cranbrook to the city of Kimberley and provides fantastic views of both the Steeples Range to the east and the Purcells to the west. It also crosses the St. Mary’s River providing more scenic views with beautiful photo opportunities. It’s a popular trail for commuters as well as family outings and visitors. The trail can be accessed all along the southbound side of Hwy 95A as well as in Marysville, near Bootleg Gap Golf Course, Wycliffe and at the Cranbrook trailhead (see map on the Rails to Trails website.) The trail also features interpretive signs with information on local flora, fauna, geology and the area’s history.
One important tip while using this trail – watch for animals on this wildlife-rich corridor.

Interpretive Signs on the Northstar Rails to Trails

Check out some unpaved trails.

• 1. Cranbrook to Wardner – Although a new construction proposal is under way as the trail is being extended, the Cranbrook to Wardner trail system already has much of the trail to use and enjoy. This will make the entire trail about 40 kms long once completed. Maps are being produced and will be displayed in kiosks at various junctions of the trail. The most accessible place to ride is from the Ramparts Rest Stop along highway 3/93 just a few kilometres east of Cranbrook. There is a nice 7-km gravel double-track loop that connects with the main line of the Cranbrook to Wardner Trail.

On the Isadore-Canyon Trail System, Photo: Janice Strong

• 2. Cranbrook Community Forest – A very popular hiking and biking trail, this system is great for riders wanting more difficult terrain. This trail is surrounded by 200 hectares of Crown land and includes steep ascents, rocky hilltops and rolling gullies and ridges.
Tips for this trail: Users are asked not to ride trails when they’re wet. Erosion is a concern on all the trails in the Community Forest as they are built on slopes with limited soil and lots of glacier- deposited large, round cobbles and loose rock.
Check out Janice Strong’s website for easily accessible and downloadable trail maps.

From Eager Hill looking towards Fisher Peak: one of the many views from the Cranbrook Community Forest Photo: Janice Strong

Want to take advantage of these awesome trails but don’t have a bike with you?

Bikes can be rented in Cranbrook at Gerick Sports

Travelling solo but would like to bike with new found friends?

Connect with The East Kootenay Outdoor Club or The Wildhorse Cycling Club which schedule hiking and biking outings in the East Kootenays, many of which are near Cranbrook.

For more information about trails around the Cranbrook area, pick up a copy of “Mountain Footsteps – Hikes in the East Kootenay of Southeastern BC by Janice Strong 3rd edition updated.”
It can be purchased through Amazon or Google books and is filled with beautiful photography, tips and maps.