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August 21, 2012

Whistler: Pura Vida

Climbing the wooden switchback on the Stonebridge trail extension

Pura Vida is located on the western side of the Whistler Valley not far from High Society and Cheap Thrills.  We reached the trailhead by ascending the newer singletrack at the end of Stonebridge Place in the Stonebridge development.  At what used to be the top of the climb, next to the intersection with the Flank Trail, we discovered that the Stonebridge Trail has been extended.  The climb now continues to a higher point on Rainbow-Sproatt.

The new segment of the Stonebridge climbing trail is an impressive work.  To overcome the steep side slopes in the area, a number of long and wide raised plank bridges were built.  There’s even an elevated wooden split-rail switchback.  Though steep, is now possible to stay on the bike and bypass the heinous climb/hike-a-bike on Rainbow-Sproatt Flank Trail.  This new trail construction greatly improves the loop rides in the area.

On a wooden viaduct on the new upper portion of the Stonebridge connector trail

Pura Vida (left) and Moose Knuckles (right two)

Though it is on the map, Pura Vida’s entrance is not marked with a sign; at least we couldn’t find a sign.  On the Flank Trail only a pile of rocks indicates that the trailhead is near.  At the beginning, the trail is feral and seems little used.  We soon learned why.  Further down the trail turns directly down the fall line.  Here and in a couple of other extended stretches further down, the tread is blown out.  We hiked down the steep loose braided sections though we were pretty sure that a skilled committed rider could stay on the bike.  Rideable or not, the over-graded fall line alignments are a blight on an otherwise enjoyable, loamy trail.

At the bottom, Pura Vida connects into the usual web of trails in the area.  We used some combination of well maintained South Danimal and Moose Knuckles to reach Alta Lake Road.  Overall, our route made for a good loop ride.  Nonetheless, we’d ride High Society or Cheap Thrills (gulp) instead of Pura Vida the next time we are in the area.  With realignment or armoring in a just a couple of spots, Pura Vida would be a great trail.  Until then there are better options nearby.

Moose Knuckles

Another view of the wooden switchback


  1. I am not a mountain bike. But great to see these photos not far from home. 🙂 and I assume you’re only a strait away from us.

    Do you and SO, bike regularily? And any other photos in Europe part of any bike trips?

    Comment by Jean — March 4, 2013 @ 12:48 am

    • Hi Jean,

      We don’t actually live in BC though it would be nice.

      You can find leads to road biking in Europe in this category search. (Some of the entries cover the road trip between rides–look for Passo dello Stelvio, Alpe d’Huez, Col du Tourmalet, Hauta Les deux Alpes, Mt. Ventoux, Col des Borderes, Hautacam, and Gigondas.

      Comment by anotherheader — March 5, 2013 @ 10:12 am

      • You went up the Alpe d’Huez by bike? Good for you. Hmm, I’m guessing you live somewhere in the Northwest US.

        Great photos that you take for your blog!

        Comment by Jean — March 6, 2013 @ 12:44 am

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