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Squamish is hands-down one of my favorite places I’ve ever ridden. Not only are the views that surround this little British Columbia fjord town absolutely stunning, but the riding is irrevocably world-class.
I spent almost two weeks here exploring with my dad and we had a blast! I’m dying to get back.
Squamish mountain biking is perhaps most well-known for its steep rock rollers (and there are a lot of them), but there are also amazing flow trails, super well-built climbs, technical old-school singletrack through beautiful forests, and mellow dirt tracks for those just starting out (although I would definitely not categorize Squamish as a beginner-friendly mountain bike destination).
Squamish is also just a short drive away from one of the best mountain bike parks in the world – Whistler.
So if you’re looking for an epic road trip to western British Columbia, it’s time to put Squamish on your calendar!
Why plan a trip to Squamish?
As I mentioned in the intro, Squamish has a lot going for it – on and off the bike. Here are a few reasons to plan a mountain biking trip to this beautiful BC town:
Important Things to Know
Watch the GMBN Team shred Squamish
Squamish Mountain Bike Shuttle
I’m not going to lie, there is a lot of climbing involved when mountain biking in Squamish. If you head out for a 12-14 mile ride, expect to do over 2,000 ft of climbing.
If climbing isn’t on your agenda, or you want to climb some but not every day, you’re in luck. The Squamish Shred Shuttle offers shuttles to the top of Meadow of the Grizzly, the highest point in the Diamond Head trail network.
They have a few other options as well, so check out their calendar and book your shuttles so you can maximize the fun.
Trail Networks & Route Recommendations
Squamish has two main mountain bike networks, both of which are quite extensive: Alice Lake and Diamond Head.
I did a 10-day trip to Squamish and we pretty much exclusively rode these two networks without re-riding many of the same trails.
There are also the Valleycliff and Brackendale areas, which I haven’t ridden (yet… I plan on going back!). I’ve heard that the Valleycliff trails there are more suited for trials riders and people who want to hit bigger features while Brackendale is great for beginners and kids.
Squamish mountain biking trail map
1. Diamond Head
Diamond Head is located northeast of Squamish near Quest University. This mountain bike network has a good mix of flowy machine-built trails as well as old-school rocks and roots.
The main Legacy Climb Trail – Stl’lhalem Sintl’ – is well-built and if you take it allllll the way to the top, it’s about 8 miles and 3,000ft of climbing. But the views and downhill are worth it!
Diamond Head is a great place to start your Squamish mountain biking adventures. There are trails for all levels and it has some of the best singletrack in the area. Half Nelson and the Psuedo-Tsuga’s are probably Squamish’s most popular flow trails while Angry Midget and Ditch Pig provide raw DH action.
#1 Diamond head route recommendation
>> Diamond Head Big Loop
I love this loop! Climbing all the way to the top of the Legacy Climb Trail is a haul, but not too bad if you take it slow and steady. You should definitely do it once if you’re visiting Squamish.
The highlight of this ride is Fred. Flowy, steep, some techy features, and all-around awesome.
Route directions: Climb Trail Parking > Legacy Climb Trail (or shuttle to the top) > Meadow Of the Grizzly > Short Circuit > IMBA Smart > Fred > Tinder > Your Mom > Pseudo-Tsuga Part 3
Route notes: It might be tempting to simply head down Upper Powersmart, but this trail is super eroded and filled with baby head rocks. Instead, take Meadow Of The Grizzly, which is machine-built and flowy – to Short Circuit and then link into IMBA Smart.
Do less: Skip the final mile of climbing to the top of the Climb Trail and skip right over to Short Circuit.
Shuttle it: It is possible to shuttle to the top of Diamond Head. See more about shuttles below.
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#2 Diamond head route recommendation
>> Best of Diamond Head Loop
This is a big ride with a lot of elevation gain (unless you shuttle to the top), but the descents are totally worth it. Meadow of the Grizzly is long with lots of big bermed turns and great views out over the fjord.
Half Nelson and the Pseduo-Tsuga’s are simply the best if you’re looking for flow! The map is a bit confusing but basically, the two descents are:
- Meadow of the Grizzly to Half Nelson (climb up Operation Panda and Ring Creek Access Road)
- Pseudo-Tsuga Part 1, 2, and 3
Route directions: Climb Trail Parking > Legacy Climb Trail (or shuttle to the top) > Meadow of the Grizzly > Access Road > Half Nelson > Another Man’s Gold > Fool’s Gold > Ring Creek Rip > Access Road > Operation Panda > Climb Trail > Access Road > Pseudo-Tsuga Part 1, 2, and 3
Do less: If you want to cut off some miles and climbing, you can not do Meadow of the Grizzly and only climb up to the start of Half Nelson. Then finish the route by climbing Operation Panda to Ring Creek Access Road to the Pseudo-Tsugas.
If you really want to do Meadow of the Grizzly, you can skip the second climb back up to the Pseudo-Tsugas.
#3 Diamond head route recommendation
>> Somewhere over there
This is another big day, but you’re in Squamish to ride, right? Angry Midget and Ditch Pig are both fast, rooty, and old-school descents and much different than the machine-built trails in Diamond Head (I personally prefer Ditch Pig if you only want to do one climb).
Somewhere Over There is more off the beaten path and I loved it. It’s a great trail with some rock slabs that are a good intro to Alice Lake if you haven’t been over there yet. The finish on Poop Alley is a fun, fast, flowy easy trail to end the day.
Route directions: Climb Trail Parking > Legacy Climb Trail > Angry Midget > Climb Trail (Access Road) > Ditch Pig > Another Roadside Attraction > Another Man’s Gold > Ring Creek Rip > Powerhouse Plunge Access Road > Power-Hood’s (pH) > Hood’s Connector > Bonsai North > Somewhere Over There > Powerhouse Access Road > Poop Alley
Do less: You can choose to do only one of the descents down Angry Midget or Ditch Pig. I slightly preferred Ditch Pig, but they’re both great and challenging.
Make it harder: Take the Unrelated Dead Guys offshoot from Somewhere Over There. This trail has a series of steep rock faces.
2. Alice Lake & Highlands
Alice Lake is a bit farther north of town above Garibaldi Highlands. There is a bit of everything here except for machine-built flow – you’ll find that at Diamond Head. But if you came to Squamish looking for rock slab riding, this is where you want to be.
In general, Alice Lake has more advanced trails than Diamond Head and there’s also less continuous climbing. Don’t think for a minute, though, that it’s going to be easy!
Like Diamond Head, you really can’t go wrong at Alice Lake. A few of my favorites here include Mad Hatter, Man Boobs, Leave of Absence, and Rupert.
If you want to step things up a notch (or two) try your skills on Entrails, Bony Elbows, and In-and-Out Burger.
Remember to ride within your skill level! There’s some big stuff here.
#1 Alice Lake route recommendation
>> Alice Lake Loop South
This is a lap kind of day. Leave of Absence is a fun warm-up – definitely a hard blue – and Rupert is freaking awesome. I love that trail! There are some really cool wooden features and entry-level rock slabs.
Entrails is next on the list and it steps things up a notch. There are lots of steep rock slabs and techy bits which may need to be walked. Ride within your skill level. Bony Elbows is just as technical with steep rock rollers. Finally, Rollercoaster is a super fun and flowy way to finish the day.
Route directions: Alice Lake Parking Lot > Fifty Shades of Green > Of Mice and Men > Leave of Absence > Tracks From Hell > Of Mice and Men > Rupert > Tracks From Hell > Entrails > Bony Elbows > Rollercoaster > Lumberjacks > Access Road > Jack’s
Make it easier: Entrails and Bony Elbows are the hardest trails in the loop. You can skip them by taking Mashiter after your run down Rupert. This will connect into Rollercoaster to finish the loop.
#2 Alice Lake route recommendation
>> Alice Lake Loop North
It’s a climb to get up to Mad Hatter (are you seeing a theme here?), but the descent is worth it. Man Boobs is also fun – very rocky and rooty, but does have some flow.
My favorite trail in this link-up is Rupert. SO MUCH FUN. Big rock slabs, fun wooden features, fast and flowy, and all over awesome.
Credit Line has a climb at the beginning but the down is fast with lots of rocks and roots.
Route directions: Alice Lake Parking > 50 Shades of Green > Mikes Loop > Tracks From Hell > Cliffs Corners > Northside Connector > Ed’s Access Road > Mad Access > Mad Hatter > Man Boobs > Edith Lake Access Road > Of Mice and Men > Rupert > Mashiter > Tracks From Hell > Mike’s Loop > Credit Line > Jack’s
Do more: Add a lap on Pamplemousse at the end by climbing up 50 Shades of Green.
Best Time To Ride in Squamish
Squamish can technically be ridden all year round because it rarely snows due to its temperate coastal climate however, it rains A LOT during the fall, winter, and spring months.
Squamish gets an average rainfall of 113 inches per year and most of that occurs between October and April. The best time to enjoy Squamish mountain biking, then, is in the summer from June to September. I visited in late June and we had almost perfect weather!
If you’re looking for events, in the summer SORCA (Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association) puts on weekly rides and events.
Squamish Bike Shops, Rentals, & Tours
As would be expected for a mountain bike town, Squamish has a handful of bike shops that offer full-service tune-ups and repairs, rentals, and guided tours.
Full-Service Bike Shops & Rentals
- Corsa Cycles, Squamish | +1 604-892-3331
- Tantalus Bike Shop, Garibaldi Highlands | +1 604-898-2588
- Spoke Haven Bike Shop, Garibaldi Highlands | +1 604-898-1919
Guided Rides & Coaching
- Flying Spirit Rentals | +1 604-390-3822
- Dialed In Cycling | +1 604-390-3822
Where To Eat & Drink In Squamish
There are a lot of great restaurants in Squamish. Below are a few of my favorites:
Where to stay in Squamish
Squamish has a handful of great camping opportunities close to town and trails:
- Alice Lake Provincial Park: This is a nice campground close to the Alice Lake mountain bike trails. There’s also a refreshing small lake to cool off in.
- Paradise Valley Campground: This is a beautiful family-oriented campground located about 11 miles north of Squamish.
- MTN Fun Basecamp: A stunning campground right in the midst of mountain biking trails with a variety of camping options. They also offer several kitchenette-equipped cabins.
- Mamquam River Campsite: A rustic campground situated on the Mamquam River close to town. There is no running water or RV services.
Mountain Biker-Friendly Hotels
Squamish is an adventure town, so there are lots of mountain biker-friendly hotels to choose from. The Squamish Adventure Inn is a hostel that caters to the outdoor adventurer with dorms and private rooms available. They have secure storage and a bike wash station, however, bikes are not allowed in rooms.
Executive Suites Hotel and Resort is more of an upscale hotel with nice rooms, friendly staff, secure bike storage, and even a Bike & Stay Package that includes 15% off mountain bike rentals with Flying Spirit Rentals.
Other Things To do In Squamish
If you need a day off the bike, Squamish has a ton of great things to do:
Ride the Sea to Sky Gondola
For amazing views out over Squamish, the Howe Sound, the Stawamus Chief, and surrounding mountains take a ride on the Sea To Summit Gondola. This 10-minute scenic ride takes you up almost 3,000 ft above sea level and at the top, you can enjoy the views from three different viewing platforms. You can also enjoy a delicious meal at the Summit Lodge on their viewing deck while taking in the panorama.
Just like there are tons of mountain biking trails around Squamish, so too are there plenty of hiking trails. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to explore Squamish on foot, but next time I visit I’d love to check off these two hikes:
- Stawamus Chief Trail that takes you up the two peaks on Squamish’s iconic monolith, the Stawamus Chief
- Elfin Lakes Trail up to a beautiful lakes basin area above Squamish. You can also ride your bike up to Elfin Lakes
If you’ve made your way to Squamish for mountain biking, you might as well hit up Whistler Bike Park as well. Whistler is only 40 miles north of Squamish and in addition to its world-class lift-served playground, it’s also home to dozens of miles of backcountry singletrack including the Lord of the Squirrels trails, which is supposed to be epic!
Go white water rafting
Squamish has two rivers that offer white water rafting fun, the Cheakamus River with class I and II rapids (mellower) and the Elaho-Squamish River with class III and IV rapids (more challenging). Both rivers offer epic views and are a good way to rest the legs while still getting an adrenaline rush. Book your day out on the river here!
Looking for more fun things to do?
Check out these popular tours in Squamish
I’ve ridden a lot of places around North America, and Squamish remains one of my all-time favorite destinations for mountain biking. The views, the trails, the cool town, and its proximity to other amazing places like Whistler all make it a must-visit for any avid rider.
Sure, there’s a lot of climbing, but as a descent-minded mountain biker myself, I didn’t feel like the climbs were overly brutal and the downs were definitely worth the grind.
I hope this post helps you plan an unforgettable trip. Happy riding!
Planning a trip the PNW? Check out these related blog posts:
Have you mountain biked in Squamish, BC? What are your favorite Squamish mountain biking trails and rides? Let us know in the comments below!