JASPER NATIONAL PARK
Spending the past eight years as a Pro rider on the Kona Factory Team, I’ve ridden and raced my bike all over the world, but one place still holds a special place in my heart – Alberta’s Jasper National Park. Growing up in Jasper, it’s part of one’s childhood to ride bikes. It is how you get to school, downtown or out into the wilderness that surrounds the town.
Jasper is in the confluence of three valleys, and from the local bike shop, Freewheel Cycle, you can get to more than a dozen trailheads in less than 10 minutes. The biggest problem is trying to decide which direction to head on any given day! When I’m in town now between trips, I try to make the most of my limited days by combining some of the popular rides on one big day out. I call it the “The Abbreviated Around the World.”
Starting out on the 32-kilometre loop, get the big one out of the way first. This rugged track leads far up into the wilderness under the shadows of Pyramid Mountain above town, passing by numerous crystal-clear lakes and fresh streams. In either direction, the second half is a ripping, predominantly downhill thrill ride back to town, where you can refuel at a local coffee shop before heading out on the next leg, which starts on Bighorn Alley, leading onto Snaring Road and eventually on to the Overlander Trailhead at the Moberly Bridge.
The Overlander is a classic Jasper trail traversing the banks of the Athabasca River, with glorious views and a few technical rocky patches. It’s a fast cruise as you ride past the Moberly Cabin ruins and end up at the refreshing Maligne River.
From here, you head north up the Maligne before a 12-kilometre climb to Signal Mountain Lookout for an amazing 360° view of the three valleys below and a cap to an epic day out in the mountains. There are a couple rad options for descending back down to the valley below, and then it’s an easy 30- to 45-minute cruise along the Athabasca via Trail 7 back to town.
There’s plenty of space here to give high-fives to your riding buddies and discuss at which great Jasper restaurant or cafe you’ll end your ride. As always when riding in in the Rockies, you must be alert for bears, elk and the odd misbehaving tourist.
Jasper National Park features some of the best riding anywhere in the world with sweet trails, amazing scenery, wildlife and great restaurants and cafes to end your ride.