Guest blogger Chris Istace recently flew with us to Cranbrook and shared his story with ZenSeekers and us in the spirit of #RockiesExploring

We woke up for a day of adventure, feeling energized and ready for biking Kimberley’s trails. The natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains surrounding Kimberley will have that effect on you. Riding a bike puts me in a positive state of mind and I knew it was going to be a memorable day as we set out to explore the area on two wheels.

To make life a little easier, we flew into the Canadian Rockies International Airport in Cranbrook, just 30 minutes from Kimberley. Rather than the hassle of driving and hauling our bikes, we planned to rent them when we arrived. Best part was that two locals, Chelsea Boyd Gibson and Hayley Hills, were going to give us the down low on their favourite cycling spots and more.

We headed to Kootenay Mountain Works tucked along the Platzl in charming downtown Kimberley. Owner Trevor Knight had our rental mountain bikes all ready and off we went. (Don’t forget to pet Trevor’s friendly dog as you head out with your bikes.)

The Platzl is a charming mix of boutique shops. We knew we’d work up an appetite on the trails, so knowing we could come back here to refuel at the cafes, taps houses and restaurants gave us another thing to look forward to. Just down from the bike shop, we made our way to the Peak to Platzl trail.

The trail wound its way from downtown to the base of Kimberley Ski Resort. But first we decided to take a trip down memory lane with a ride on the Kimberley  Underground Mining Railway. Our bikes secured to the bike rack, we picked up our tickets.

Waiting like a couple of kids, we watched for the train to arrive. With a loud blast of the whistle and the thrum of the diesel engine, it rolled into the station. Like trying to get the best seat on the school bus, we grabbed a spot that would give us the best view.

With another blast of the horn, we were on our way. The clickity-clack of the tracks became the soundtrack of the tour. Along the way, the host shared stories and facts telling us about the history of the train and the Sullivan Mine that operated for 92 years. Over raging rivers and along the valley, we rode all the way up to the ski resort and back down. The highlight of the trip was going through a tunnel right into the mountain where the dark and cold greeted us, and where we could imagine miners working.

The train rolled back into the station and we hopped back onto our bikes and enjoyed a nice gravity-powered easy pedal back to the Platzl and the shops.

Our first stop was Grow Tea & Elixir Café where we had a nice lunch and refreshing drink. Sitting on the sunny outside patio, we felt we’d earned the fresh, locally made sandwiches and thirst-quenching, hand-made drinks. (I highly recommend the cold coffee concoction and the veggie burger.)

Back on our bikes and ready to relax a bit more, we rode one short block for an après lunch pint. Over Time Beer Works is Kimberley ’s local craft brewery and we were eager to try a flight of its seasonal selection. The brewery was the perfect spot to go over the map of the extensive trails in the area and figure out a route to finish off the rest of our day.

Riding with Chelsea and Hayley made the next leg of our ride on the Northstar Rails 2 Trails such a blast. They knew all the best spots to turn off the trail and take in gorgeous viewpoints. The Rails 2 Trails is a well-developed, paved biking and walking path that connects Kimberley to Cranbrook, covering more than 28 kms.

Our first detour from the path was at Marysville Falls. We followed the sound of the distant water, crossing a bridge to take in the view of water crashing down from well over three storeys above.

Back on the trail, we continued towards Cranbrook getting amazing views of Fisher Peak along the eastern skyline. There is so much to enjoy along the trail and being on two wheels allowed us to notice the little details that you just don’t get riding in a car.

Our final destination took us to a grassy bluff off the paved portion of the trail where we ended our day with stunning views to the southwest looking back toward St. Marys’ River valley. We gazed out at the snow-capped peaks and deep green forest mesmerized by its beauty and grandeur.

After snapping few photos, we made our way back to the Platzl to drop off our bikes. Grinning after a stellar day on the trails, we all agreed that when you mix two wheels and mountain scenery, everyone can’t help but feel sheer contentment and happiness.

Story and Photo Credit: Chris Istace of ZenSeekers




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