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September 4, 2008

Squamish, Powersmart

Filed under: BC 2008, MTB Travel — anotherheader @ 11:44 pm

With clear and sunny skies, we were looking for a big ride today. We stopped by Republic Bike Shop to clarify the rides in Diamond Head area of the Garibaldi Provincial Park area as both the Tantalus and Corsa shops had recommended rides in this area but we had the sense that they might be sending the smack talking Bay Area riders to their doom. Maybe we shouldn’t have let The Stump do the talking for us at the Tantalus and Corsa shops. With the Stump sufficiently suppressed in the background, Arnaud at the Republic (a very pure one man shop in a shack hidden away from the street) gave us very detailed directions to the trails that proved to be very useful. It never ceases to amaze me how enthusiastic the folks in the local bike shops in the places we visit are to provide trail information.

The Crew reports for action 3000 feet above Squamish

The Crew reports for action 3000 feet above Squamish

Our route for the day was a 2,500-foot shuttle run up to the top of Powersmart Trail. The viewpoint at the top of the shuttle gave us a sight of the Squamish’s glacier carved valley, the sound, and the glacier capped peaks. Our ride route started with a gentle climb on an old skid road passing a newly cut trail along the way that had been suggested to us at Tantalus after Pure Tube talked some smack about there being no good long descents in Squamish.

“How hard is it?” we asked about the new trail.

“You have strong technical skills, eh?” the Tantalus shop guy replied.

That pretty much stymied us. “Strong technical skills for around here, or for everywhere else?” we thought silently just trying to fathom what “strong technical skills” could mean in Squamish. For all we knew, Squamish strong technical skills could be World Class technical skills elsewhere.

In the end, we passed on the new trail, though it looked intriguing. Missing this will nag at our riding souls for days to come.

Upper Powersmart dropped off to the left a little further up. An old school trail, Powersmart started with a bang, rolling almost immediately into a couple of significant rooty drops right out of the chute. The trail descends steeply in the

Becky at the bottom of Upper Powersmart

Becky at the bottom of Upper Powersmart

filtered light under the tree canopy with frequent gnarly root drops bracketed by trees and challenging turn drops. Most of the step-down drops on this trail were over roots with minimal granite slab riding. Even with the rain the previous day, the roots were dry and rideable. We rode most of it, though scouting was required and there was not much flow going on. Like many of the trails in BC, flow would come the second or third time you rode down the trail when you could anticipate the drops and let things roll. Letting this one flow would leave you with little adrenaline at the bottom.

Upper Powersmart exits on a skid road. The left direction goes to Skookum, which we were told was sweet and fast with flow unlike most of the trails in the area. The day’s crew didn’t need no stinking flow, so we headed right and dropped down Middle Powersmart.

Stumping with The Stump

Stumping with The Stump

Middle Powersmart was like the younger brother of Powersmart. The idea was the same, but the drops were smaller and we could jam pretty well on this trail. The Spout was fully engaged when we popped out onto a road cut that teed into forest road. With some route finding confusion in this area (there was a recent clear cut in the area that we figured had altered the trails and the roads in the sector), we eventually took the road to the left and crossed the clear cut onto a new singletrack. This trail (we believe this is the lower portion of Skookum) dropped down and crossed the drainage on a spiffy new bridge, George’s Crossing (the bridge even had handrails). A push up out of the drainage put us on an old logging road. Per the instructions from Arnaud at Republic, we ignored the incorrectly labeled map and climbed up the hill a half-mile plus until we reached the top of Recycle with the trail name carved into a tree at its entrance.



Dropping to the right off of the road cut put us on the trail. Being further down the mountain, Recycle was tucked into a lush, ferny, forest with a semitropical feel. The windy and gently sloped trail had a tread that was loamy with only small root drops and low ladders along the way. The trail had good flow for me; at least until my rear brake blew out its hydraulic fluid. Perhaps The Stump felt the need to retaliate after Becky (a.k.a., The Spout) “adjusted” his derailleur the other day. I guess we’ll never know. Funny how it is hard to steer without your rear brake.

Recycle bottomed onto another logging road leg where we went right up to Pseudo Tsuga. We dropped two legs of Pseudo Tsuga, crossing a logging road into between. Pseudo Tsuga had more of a dry, powdery tread, but continued with the more mellow, gently sloped feel with only moderately sized drops as it wound down the hill. The drops sure looked like fun. I was wishing I had a rear brake.

At the next logging road, the group split with Pure Tube leading the way to for Scott, Erik, and Alex to a return trip to The Plunge. The Spout, The Stump, and myself continued down a series of unlabeled, well used trails that we not on the map but were clearly the favored route back for the locals. These trails were fun but had some super sketchy sections with some loose rocky descents along the way that were beyond a front brake only bike.

Can't we get a phonetic spelling?


From the bottom of the trails, we rolled the short distance down the hill to the retrieve vehicle parking spot. We were able to drive up and collect the vehicle at the top (takes less than 35 minutes round trip) before The Plunge gaggle returned.

For those who, for some reason, do not desire the big drop pleasures of Upper Powersmart, it would be very easy to do a great flowy ride in this area by climbing the logging roads to about the midway point and then dropping the trail sequence we did from Recycle on. This would give about 1500 feet of climbing with excellent, relatively tame payoff.

On the way back, we managed to catch Arnaud as he was leaving Republic on a dirt trail on his bike in time to drop my bike off. He said he’d have my bike ready early on Tuesday.

This was another great ride in Squamish. Overall, it took us about 3.5 hrs to complete; I’m guessing The Plunge group came in well over 4 hours. The character of the trails in the Garibaldi Park is very different than the trails in Garibaldi Highlands. The question we were left with is just how many great rides are there in Squamish. They seem endless. Wow, the trails in Squamish really have gears.


Bike Shops in Squamish:

Tantalus: Behind Canadian Tire on Highway 99

Corsa (Specialized dealer): In the shopping center that contains Nesters grocery store, just south of the Adventure Center

Republic Bikes: Government Road, Brakendale (this would be the shop I’d ship my bike to, if I was shipping a bike up to Squamish)


  1. […] in Squamish’s Diamondhead area, is one of our favorites.  There was little question of a return visit this year.  With Dan and Shiloh joining us for […]

    Pingback by Squamish: Powersmart to Credit Line « Another Header — August 22, 2010 @ 8:49 pm

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