In the final installment of our “Closer Look” series, we check out next year’s fall trips… specifically our Sea to Sky and Crested Butte destinations. These two trips couldn’t be more different, and yet they’re both very challenging in their own way. Looking for all the tech you can handle, at a low elevation, on trails that will blow your mind? Then check out our Sea to Sky trip on September 19th. Looking for huge rides in the Colorado high country with never-ending descents, near treeline, where you’ll be on the bike for hours at a time? Then Crested Butte is for you!
Sea to Sky BC: September 19-24th
Technical Level: Advanced to Expert
Physical Level: Intermediate+
Summary: New to the Chasing Epic lineup for 2023, we’re super excited to expand on our Squamish trips and add both Whistler AND Pemberton. The area is a virtual playground for mountain bikers, with terrain and tech that will challenge the best riders anywhere. Between the three locations, there’s enough challenging black trails to push your limits and help you find new ones. Definitely bring your A-game for this one. How is this trip different than our June departure? Honestly, not much. We *might* be able to get up into the alpine a bit more, but it’s entirely weather dependent. You can definitely expect amazing trail conditions and near-perfect weather in mid-September though.
From slabs to skinnies to flow trails to steep backcountry lines… this trip will throw it all at you. Sometimes even on the same day! Expect to be challenged beyond anything you’ve likely ridden before, on features you probably didn’t think were rideable. But it’s all about progression, and you’ll leave for your home trails a much better rider than when you showed up on Day 1!
Expected Itinerary: For this trip, we’re going to break it down a bit differently… because there are SO many trail options in each of the three towns, we’ll go into a little detail on how that will break down, and what you can expect from that perspective. Generally speaking, if the weather cooperates for our trips we’ll spend two days in Whistler, two in Squamish, and one in Pemberton.
Squamish: We started our expansion into BC with our trips here in 2022, and we were in love ever since we scouted these trails last fall. Squamish is the Disneyland for advanced-level mountain bikers with steeps, slabs, tech, and flow all built into the same ride. We’ll start you out easy on some “BC blues” (the equivalent of tough black trails in the US) to let you get the hang of things, but then we’ll get into it with black trails like In-N-Out, Entrails, and Credit Line. The descents in Squamish tend to be a little shorter, but they pack a lot of punch for the effort.
Whistler: New for us in 2023, Whistler is the perfect tech compliment to Squamish… the trails in Whistler tend to be a little longer/bigger and more raw, featuring old-school tech and steeps vs the slabs of Squamish. There aren’t any shuttles available in Whistler (other than the bike park, which we won’t be riding), so you’ll have to earn your turns the old fashioned way: by climbing up before dropping down. But trust us, with descents like Pura Vida, Microclimate, and Dark Crystal, all the effort is totally worth the reward on the way down. These trails blew us away… there’s a reason some of the best riders in the world call Whistler home.
Pemberton: Just 20-30 minutes down-valley (north) from Whistler, Pemberton offers an entirely different style of riding and a perfect compliment to the coastal BC vibe of the other two. Pemberton tends to be a bit drier than it’s neighbor to the south, and so the terrain mimics that: more rugged, steep, and raw than most of what you’ll find in Whistler or Squamish. Expect steep chutes, some fun slab riding, and descents that seemingly go on forever. At the end of each Pemberton day, we’ll be sure to hit the brewery right at the bottom of the trail system, which will cap off an incredible day of riding!
Expected Weather: Fall in the Sea to Sky corridor usually means temperate weather in the 60’s and an occasional chance for rain. Don’t worry though, the dirt gets better with moisture, and the slabs are still as grippy as ever. But still, make sure you bring a good rain jacket and maybe some rain paints on this trip. If you sign up, we’ll keep you updated with a up-to-the-minute forecast before the trip so you’re prepared!
Recommended bike: Coastal BC is all about the tech, so we recommend a full-on enduro bike for this trip. A minimum of 140mm rear travel and 150-160mm up front is a must!
The Final Word: This incredible trip is all about progression and pushing yourself, so be prepared. This trip is most definitely for our advanced/expert riders! You’ll be riding trails unlike you’ve ever seen before, with features and sections that you’ve only viewed on YouTube videos. Everything is SO well-designed and built though, that you’ll be amazed at what’s possible on a bike. If you’ve got questions about whether your ability level is up to the challenge, don’t hesitate to shoot us an email.
Crested Butte, CO: September 16-20th and 22-26th
Technical Level: Intermediate+
Fitness Level: Advanced
Summary: One of our most popular trips every year (the September 22-26th dates are already sold out!), Crested Butte in the fall is absolutely magical. Cooler temps, perfect trail conditions, and changing aspens… this is a 5-day trip you won’t soon forget. Don’t underestimate what’s needed to have fun in CB though: make sure you put in lots of training miles beforehand, as you’ll need them. This trip has BIG climbs above 11,000 feet and big days in the saddle- but don’t worry, it’s all worth it because descents like Teocalli, 403, and Doctor Park are world-class.
Outside of the big climbs and hard riding, we’ll work in a few shuttles to maximize the trail connections and put together rides you’ll never do on your own. We know the trails here like the back of our hand because our guides helped design and build them, and we always put together a unique and amazing itinerary. There are definitely some tough technical sections on trails like the ones mentioned above, so make sure you can handle some high-speed chunk and the occasional steep line. We’re already dreaming about late September in Crested Butte, we can’t wait.
Ride Day One: We’ll head just south of town to the Cement Creek trails for one of our newer (and favorite) loops including Farris Creek, Point Lookout, and the new Middle Cement trails. You’ll get some longer, grunty climbs mixed in with some absolutely amazing singletrack… we can’t wait to show off this route! This ride will cover about 20 miles with ~3000 feet of climbing, with an end-of-ride option to add 3-4 miles as well!
Day Two: This ride is a Chasing Epic original, combining some of the best trails in the world like no one else can. We’ll hit some of the best upper Cement Creek-area trails for a “warmup” in the morning for around 10-12 miles. Once we hit the bottom of the second big descent, we’ll grab lunch and then begin the second half of our day on Doctor Park: one of the best trails you’ll ever ride, promise. All told today we’ll knock off about 25 miles with just under 3000 feet of climbing, but almost 6,000 descending thanks to a morning shuttle!
Day Three: Another combo ride here, and this one’s been in the Chasing Epic arsenal for years… Teocalli and Strand Hill. Combining these two incredible trails gives us one big climb, one epic descent, one smaller climb, and another epic descent. In the fall, you can expect perfect dirt, golden aspens, and incredible riding on both trails. All told, expect about 20 miles and 3400′ of climbing today.
Day Four: We always like to finish up our trips on a high-note, so today we’re putting together our “804” ride, which combines the world-famous 403 and 401 trails. We’ll start off with a shuttle up to the 403 trailhead, followed by a short mile-long climb before we hit the goods down 403. Once we hit the bottom, it’s a steady climb to Schofield Pass and beyond, to the top of 401. Once we reach the top of 401, you’ve got 5+ miles of sweet, flowy singletrack all the way down to the vehicles. Today’s ride is about 14 miles and 2,200 vertical.
Expected Weather: Crested Butte in the fall can be a mixed bag… but on average, expect highs in the 60’s and low’s in the 30’s (or lower) during the mornings and evenings. We’ve seen everything from snow to 80* and sunny on our fall trips here! We’ll do our best to make sure you’re prepared for whatever Mother Nature has in store for us; the changing weather is always part of the experience!
Recommended Bike: Another “it depends” recommendation from us here. If you’re a solid climber and don’t mind pushing a few extra pounds uphill, then by all means go with an enduro bike like the Propain Tyee on this trip. Trails like 403 and Doctor Park most certainly justify that decision. That said, we think the smart play is to go with a 130-140mm travel trail bike so you’ve got a little more efficiency with climbing, while still being able to handle the descents just fine.
Final Word: We can’t say enough about our late-September trip to Crested Butte each year. It’s challenging, but the rides and downhills are so rewarding. There’s a chance you’ll push yourself harder and farther than before, but there’s also a good chance you’ll ride some of the best trails of your life. All in an environment that’s mind-blowing, and you’ll get to share it with a group of other riders having just as much fun as you are.