Added by Chris Istace
A world class trail network that features some of the finest scenery and mtb trails British Coumbia has become know for.Diverse trails : Fast and Flowy to technical rockTrails to meet all skill levelsDesigned and Maintained to IMBA standardLush and dense forestSummit ViewsYear round riding in Canada
The Maple Mountain trail network has been enjoyed for countless years by hikers, but not until recently did the mountain receive the attention it deserved for mountain biking. Over the last few years the Cowichan Trail Stewardship Society in conjunction with the approval of the local municipality began crafting the finest mountain biking trails on Vancouver Island. Today riders from all over the PNW visit to ride the renowned "Maple Syrup".
The trail starts from the parking lot located just off Osborne Bay road which can be accessed north from Crofton or south from Herd Rd which is directly off Hwy #1 (Island Highway). The parking lot is easily recognized on the east side of the road with ample space for vehicles and a large yellow gate keeping motorized traffic off the mountain. Here is where you will prep yourself for the adventure and fun that awaits.
The trail begins gently as you climb the logging road giving your legs a chance to get the blood flowing and warmed up for the climb that awaits. After about 0.5km the start of the Climbing trailhead will be seen off to your left where the logging road forks. The climbing trail is a green to blue trail in terms of terrain difficulty but where it catches you is the continual elevation gain that warrants conditioned legs and good cardio.
After 0.8km the trail meets up with the logging road and turns to the right, following the road to go over a seasonal waterfall creek path. About 100m down you will see a fork in the road to the right and the trailhead where the climbing trail starts again. Ride along beautiful switchbacks, rock bluffs , moss and lush forest for roughly 1.9km where you will find the choice to make on the trail.
A) If your legs are starting to tighten and your heart is racing, stay to the right and ride to connect back to the main road and take the Story Trails connector ( a co-operative of local native youths built this trail in respect to the forest) to meet up with Lower Maple Syrup to ride back down the mountain which we will touch on shortly.
B) You are ready for the challenge and decide to take the left and continue up the mountain. This section of trail pushes uphill for the next 1.6km with well crafted cedar bridges and boardwalks crossing the many water courses on the mountain. This section becomes more difficult as the angle of climb increases somewhat.
You have decided to continue on the climbing trail and completed that section of the trail meeting once again back up with the logging road. You will cross the road and rejoin the trail immediately to the newest portion of the trail built in spring of 2015 as the trails ultimate goal of the summit. This section works through many bluffs , arbutus trees and rocky bluffs as the switchback lead you onwards. The trail meets up with the logging road after 1.2km at a small pond. From here you will the finish off the remaining approximate 1.5km to the summit on the logging road. The final section of climbing trail is slated to be built in the fall of 2015 and the logging road will no longer need to be utilized.
Now you have reached the summit and the reward for your effort is the wonderful view of Maple Bay, SaltSpring Island, Genoa Bay and the Cowichan Valley from the height of 505m. Take a break on the rocky buffs often soaking up the warmth on its sunny south exposure. Once you have refueled with a hearty snack and re-hydrated yourself you are set for the downhill. The trailhead to Upper Maple Syrup is tucked around behind the communication tower located on the peak, follow the fence around the right side to reach the trail.
Here is the little disclaimer most people aren't aware of on Maple Mountain , the downhill that now starts is more of an all mountain enduro style trail and not just a mad dash to the bottom. You will encounter a great deal of traverses and switchbacks with climbing as you work your way back down.
Upper Maple Syrup is a black diamond trail that would be best described as a technical single track with tight turns and trees while navigating steep rock sections and the occasional drop. For the advanced rider this section will have you grinning ear to ear as there isn't a much finer trail to be found. With your stoke set to max you will reach the junction with Lower Maple Syrup after 2km.
As I earlier mentioned on in this description you had a choice to cut over on Story Trails from lower Climbing trail and this would be the point you would have come to. Lower Maple Syrup is I feel the real shining part of Maple Mountain as fast and flowy to tight and technical parts are encompassed in the trail creation here.
Lower Maple Syrup winds down for 3.0km and puts your riding and cardio to the test as the burn is probably now in your legs and you're thinking about the post ride beverages. You will encounter probably one of the nicest arched cedar bridges on a BC mtb trail as it spans a creek path that in winter can be a raging torrent . The trail goes back up some climbs and switchbacks to cross rock bluffs to get you back down the mountain and then hit the funnest fast bermed flowy section of your ride. You will next encounter three big arched rollers built out of cedar in increasing size and difficulty which then lead into a bit more pedaling to the end of lower Maple Syrup.
At the end of Lower Maple Syrup you hit a small old logging road that you will turn right on, pedal uphill for a short distance ignoring the left hand trail you will come across instead continue for about 50m to the obvious trailhead of Solar Coaster. Yet another choice, if you can muster the remaining energy and determination to finish off this mountain continue on, if not follow the logging road until it reaches the main line logging road that you can bomb back to the bottom on.
So you've decided to attack the next 2.5km of Solar Coaster, way to go! Find yourself working over rock bluffs and descending tight forested trail. You will also be treated to the "Dark Forest" which is a fast bermed loam section you can bomb through but be careful as the forest canopy is extremely dense creating a very dark zone hence the name the locals gave it. The trail ends right across the the start on the Climbing Trail we started our day on and can continue back down the logging road for 0.5km to the parking lot or swerve left on Loggers Lane for a mellow 1.0km to cool down after your marathon ride.
Overall this mountain presents the mountain bike enthusiast with a ride that encompasses what I believe every single skillset required to be a true rider is. Rock, drops, berms, rollers, jumps and pure conditioning combine to be a premier "all-mountain" or "enduro" trail network.
Approximate trail stats if you do the full loop encompassing all trails would result in around 16km completed and 520m total elevation gain. If you think you have what it takes this is the place to be for you and your trusty bike.
- MTB gear - the essentials (helmet, pads, gloves)
- Riding Pack - hydration pack recommended
- Tubes and tools - long demanding trail (don't get yourself stranded with a flat)
- Food - the long climb to the summit will have you craving a bite
- Electronics - cameras and GoPro so you can share the fun with friends
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