East Coast Downhill – Sending it through Atlantic Canada
Contributed by Tim Foster
If you’re looking to the east coast for a downhill mountain biking trip with your family or friends, look no further. Atlantic Canada boasts two incredible parks; Sugarloaf Bike Park and Keppoch Mountain with lots of options for putting down a few more pedal strokes along the way.
Arriving from Quebec, you’ll quickly roll up on, Edmundston after crossing the New Brunswick border. They have an extensive 60km plus town built network that boasts a variety of flow trails, switchbacks, technical climbs and fun descents.
Make your way northeast on the 17 until you hit Campbellton, the home of Sugarloaf Bike Park. The downhill bike park was designed and built by Gravity Logic, the company that built the # 1 bike park in Whistler, BC. Take the chairlift to the top and take your pick of flow trails, technical descents, or one of the big jump lines. The park offers a perfect mix for any rider or skill level. Although the park has been operating for over 15 years, they continue to add new trails and revamp some of the older ones to keep it fresh for the season pass holders.
Some of my favourite trails at Sugarloaf:
- Sugar Daddy – flow trail with tons of berms and jumps that you can either send or pump through.
- Ti Polo – steep technical rocky descents with big drops and rolls. You’ll smell your brake pads heating up before the bottom.
- Ridgeline – massive berms swoop you from side to side the whole way down – this trail was built for speed and is a ton of fun.
- If you want to go big, Supa Sweet is where you’ll find the biggest gaps, jumps and features.
- My personal favourite is Kodiak but finishes on Choupette. There’s a fork in the trail about 2/3 down, stick to the left, and you’ll pull into a long berm that sets you up for fun send off a step-down. For me, I like fast trails that have a big mix of terrain. There’s a nice balance of flat out sections, technical descents, roots, steep rolls, fast berms with some punch and fun jumping options all around.
- Sugar Mama – is a perfect trail for any skill level to session or warmth up on. It’s a smooth twisty trail that takes you down the whole way down the mountain.
One of the best perks of Sugarloaf is the Provincial Park campground at the foot of the mountain. It’s a beautiful park for families and anyone looking to enjoy the outdoors with spacious sites and surrounded by dense forest and walking trails. After a full day on the hill, you can pedal back to your campsite within minutes and enjoy clean facilities and the new Parks Canada EZ-Tents. They’re incredible and convenient if you don’t want to pack all your camping gear. Relax and reminisce about the day over a campfire.
Next up for downhill destinations is Keppoch Mountain, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. It’s a 5 and a half-hour drive, so if you want to stop and stretch out those legs, see some more singletrack on your way. White Rock Recreation Area outside of Moncton or the Railyard Mountain Bike Park in Truro aren’t far detours off of your route to Keppoch.
The White Rock Recreation Area in Hillsborough is built on an old mining ground and has a variety of elevations and trails. It’s a beautifully wooded area, so you’re immersed in the forest almost the whole way through the network. This detour would tag an extra hour on to your drive each way.
The Railyard Mountain Bike Park is predominately a cross-country mountain biking trail network. It’s minutes from the center of Truro if you’re stopping into town for a top-up, food or bike parts. Most of the trails have optional challenges along the trail, which allow beginners and more advanced riders the opportunity to ride together and serve their skill levels. This detour would tag an extra 15 minutes on to your drive each way.
From Truro, you will have just over an hour to your destination. Keppoch Mountain is an old ski hill that has been converted into a 4 seasons outdoor activity facility, nestled about 15 minutes outside of Antigonish, the home of the famous St. Francis Xavier University.
Keppoch is a large and rapidly growing network, currently 35KM+ of trail. They offer shuttle tickets on weekends and have a nice mix of descending and cross-country trails for all riders and skill levels.
Some of my favourite trails at Keppoch:
- Chicken Cougar – this one is just all fun. The trail is scattered with small jumping options, berms and carries good speed throughout.
- Switch Craft – this is one of the bigger and broader runs throughout the park. If you like big table-tops, and jumps, this is for you.
- Old School – this is a personal favourite. It’s exactly what it sounds like, old school. It’s a very steep rocky descent that’s full of roots and has you sliding and braking the whole way down.
- Riverside – one of the newest additions to the park. This is a beautiful machine built jump run.
- Beyond the downhill trails, Keppoch mountain offers a huge variety of cross-country trails in the network if you’d like to switch up your visit and get the legs pumping with some long climbs and put down some distance.
- When the shuttles aren’t running there’s a very friendly switchback climbing trail to session the downhill runs.
Driving from Maine there are a couple of potential routes you could take to Sugarloaf and Keppoch. Here are a couple road trip route suggestions: