bikes canada general moosling

Autumn and the Little Elbow River

We have been wanting to ride the Elbow loop again for a while now, but with the conditions on the Elbow River side still a little wild, we decided we may as well day trip out and back on the Little Elbow River side. My dodgy knee was hurting after getting over-excited and over-doing it, but with the dirt season nearly done, it was difficult to say no to a bike ride.

That first bridge is still out though. Wading through an icy cold river is better than coffee for a Sunday morning wake up.

We waded back and forth with bikes and offspring, successfully avoiding throwing anyone into the river.

A slow and gradual climb uphill followed. Certainly slow; not always gradual. Yellow leaves and snacks ensued.

Near the high point of the trail we hid our bikes in the forest and hiked out to the Tombstone Lakes. They were certainly lakes, and I wouldn’t hear it if anyone tried to tell me they were anything other than lakes. The fish swimming in them were certainly not an optical illusion. Sadly no photographic evidence of the lakes will be presented at this time.

Then a turn around, we hiked out again, retrieved bikes, and rolled most of the way back down the hill.

Not pictured is the two hours after the last photo was taken, when we were nearly at the bottom of the hill and Alex realised the (new, purchased after our old one died) GPS had come off its mount. He rode all the way back up to look for it while Finn and I played, then Alex came back and was cranky because he hadn’t found the GPS.

Story update: 6 weeks later and the GPS still hasn’t magically turned up. I think we may have to buy a new one :(

bikes canada general moosling trip reports

Biking the Elbow Loop with a Chariot

The Elbow Loop is one of those rides I kept coming across in lists with descriptions like: “Classic K-Country Rides”. And in fact it is a classic – in the sense it comes from the days when mountain-biking was all about riding on rough dirt roads, back before the day when someone realised they could ride single-track, and that was actually a lot more fun.

With all that double track, we figured we may as well take the Chariot along. I’d never ridden the loop before. Alex had, but seemed to think it was worth doing again – and it was, in that it was one of the double-track rides around that’s possible to do with a Chariot. Otherwise, there are a lot of much more interesting rides in K-Country (although the scenery is quite nice, and maybe I’m just a little spoilt from living in the mountains now).

We headed out along the Little Elbow trail first, riding the loop anti-clockwise. After passing a few hikers we had the trail to ourselves for most of the climb up to Tombstone Pass. The climbing was pretty relentless, but we risked the perils of inertia and made one stop along the way so the Moosling could get out and throw rocks around (mostly at Mama).

The trail reports had threatened snow at the pass, but although there was a little hiding in the trees, the trail itself was clear. I’m increasingly having no faith at all in the trail reports out here.

Crossing Tombstone Pass

We didn’t spend much time at Tombstone Pass, but dropped down into the Big Elbow Valley, where the trail narrowed, and became a lot more like single trail (although still passable on the Chariot). At the same time, the scenery got a little more spectacular, and I could see why people would rave about the ride.

Descending into Big Elbow Valley

Some of the more interesting sections were found on this side of the circuit, and I was glad I wasn’t towing the Chariot – so I could zoom on the single track, and so I didn’t have to haul it uphill after the stream crossings. A couple of sections here the Chariot was walked, both uphill and downhill, but never for long.

Eventually we left the hills behind, and followed the river out along the flat. And along the flat. And along the flat. That interminable flat track, it eventually spat us out back at the carpark, and we were relieved, as we’d had enough of riding mountain bikes along flat rocky roads.

The Big Elbow River

Distance: From the campground carpark, the whole loop worked out to be a little over 42km
Elevation gain: About 850m of climbing. Basically it’s uphill for nearly 20km, to an elevation of about 2,230m, then mostly downhill for the 20km back home.
Chariot-ability: Mostly double track. A few sections narrowed to single trail, but it was always forgiving wide single trail that was easy to get the Chariot along. The creek crossings were numerous and interesting though, especially the rocky ones. And a couple of rocky downhill sections we opted to walk.
Rating: Nice views, fun if you’re bike packing through the area, feel the need to explore somewhere new, or have to pick an adventure that is Chariot/trailer friendly.