Biking Brewster Creek in Banff

by Bob Truman on September 13, 2017

in Banff, Bike

Brewster Creek trail presented some challenges with rocks, a powdery trailbed, and deadfall.

Next summer I’m planning to start a new blog “Trails for sissy mountain bikers.” Brewster Creek won’t make the cut. It’s not a particularly difficult or unsafe trail, but it presents a number of challenges which make it unpleasant for bike riders like me.

A common sight on Brewster Creek trail

I’ve attempted this bike ride in summers past, but the trail was always too wet and muddy and it doesn’t help that numerous horses compromised conditions further. With the hot and dry conditions this year, I expected it would be the ideal time to make it to the end at Sundance Lodge, 11.3K one-way. Seeing the rain and cool weather in the forecast, I thought this would be my last chance, so late Monday afternoon I headed for the Healy Creek trailhead which you access from the Sunshine road.

This was a pleasant section of Brewster Creek, but there’s no doubt that horses were here

The first 2.6K is an easy ride on the Healy Creek trail. The only significant obstacles were some large fallen trees which I had to lift my bike over. The trees were still attached at one end, so were impossible to move off the trail. 

This section of Brewster Creek with the two bridges experienced severe damage from the floods of 2013.

When you reach Brewster Creek, the challenge begins. Brewster Creek starts out with a steep climb and the trailbed is incredibly rough with lots of loose rocks and the horses’ hooves have created a pulverized, powdery surface littered with horse manure. This condition persists for about 2.5K while climbing 150 metres of net elevation. The trail then levels out and the conditions become more enjoyable for about 3K.

Lots of rocks on this section of Brewster Creek made for difficult riding

Soon after starting up Brewster Creek, I met a pack train of horses coming back from Sundance Lodge. 

There were also some fallen trees on Brewster Creek but I managed to clear two of them off the trail. 

I have skied this trail in the winter and have seen the damage caused by the floods of 2013. Seeing the landscape with no snow really shows the extent of the damage. 

The trail ends at 11.3K at Sundance Lodge

The final 3K to Sundance Lodge took a lot of time because I had to dismount and walk through some difficult areas. Drainages with rocks, some areas where the trail was rootbound, and the section with the two bridges had no perceptible trail. On the other hand, this is the area where the landscape opens up and you experience some lovely views. 

I didn’t see any wildlife, but as I got back at dusk there were two beautiful, friendly dogs at the climbing wall near the trailhead with their owners. 

No doubt there is a select group of die-hard mountain bikers who would enjoy a trail like this, but for someone like me, I couldn’t recommend it.



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