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RWGPS Ride Reports

Titanium Pinion/Gates Drive bicycle in a field of wildflowers in the Upper Elk Valley.

This post is a “home” for links to my Ride Reports.

High Rockies Trail & Elk Lakes Local Overnighter – a solo August 2023 S24O.

Mount Costigan Local Overnighter – a July 2023 ride with friends on the Lake Minnewanka Shoreline Trail.

Nordegg Alberta Local Overnighter – a June 2023 area scouting trip with Kevin.

Stoney Creek Local Overnighter – a May 2023 ride to test the lightest luggage system I’ve ever created.

Galiano Island Overnighter – a May 2023 trip with the Vancouver Island Bikepacking Collective.

Yet another Lake Minnewanka Ride Report – an April 2023 overnighter on the Slowest Known Time Machine.

Cascade Valley easy spin – a March 2023 local overnighter to test at recently dislocated shoulder – test successful.

Redearth Creek and Shadow Lake fatbiking – March 2023 perhaps the stickiest snow I’ve ever biked in. Fun was had!

Elbow Valley Winter Overnighter – a February 2023 ride that was primarily the most tiring bike-pushing I’ve ever done.

Lake Minnewanka Winter Overnighter – a January 2023 trip to test some new gear systems on the SKT Machine.

N+0 on the GDMBR. The prototype Bikepackers Foundry Ultra 200 CompressionPanniers (~20 litres & 180 grams each) are performing very well after about 1,000 km. Likewise with the matching custom Ultra 200 StraddleBags. Only having five bags makes packing a breeze. The total weight of all luggage and 610mm composite integrated rear fender/rack is less than 1,500 grams. The 700mm carbon corner bars make for a fun and comfortable ride. While the bike may appear to be back-heavy, in fact the the centre of gravity is low and 50-75mm forward of the cranks.
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Backcountry bikepacking route: Kista Vistas

Scenic vista from a pond adjacent to Lake Abraham.
Kista Peak and surrounds  viewed from a superb coffee outside spot!
Kista Peak and surrounds viewed from a superb #coffeeoutside spot!

The route is named after Kista Peak (centre) which forms an impressive vista for a camping location, and can be seen from many locations along the route.  Kista Peak is a 2,576-metre (8,451-foot) mountain located in the North Saskatchewan River valley and is part of the Ram Range in the Canadian Rockies.

Link to Kista Vistas RWGPS route

The Alberta (Canada) Bighorn Backcountry is an area covering more than 5,000 square kilometres (1.2 million acres) of public lands east of Banff and Jasper National Parks. The Stoney-Nakoda Nations have been using the area, particularly the nearby Kootenay Plains, for generations.  This route is adjacent to Abraham Lake, Alberta’s largest reservoir, and is accessed from the Bighorn Dam which is less than 30 km west of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (Jasper extension), and less than 75 km east of the Icefields Parkway. The Icefields Parkway consistently ranks as one of the ten best paved routes in the world.  As a weekend destination, the area is readily accessible to many folks in Alberta and British Columbia.

The mixed-use trails on this route have been developed and are maintained primarily for OHV use by the Bighorn Heritage ATV Society. However, the area is closed to OHV traffic between May 1 and June 30 each year. This closure represents an opportunity to quietly explore a very scenic area on well-maintained two-track. Riders exploring the area between July 1 and April 30 can expect to be sharing the trails with OHVs and/or snowmobiles.

Detail map of the area that is posted at the access point.
Detail map of the area that is posted at the access point (marked as the ? on the above map).

While the route is presented as a simple loop, best ridden counter clockwise, there are numerous opportunities to extend the route or enjoy more challenging day rides. The route is entirely unpaved and has some chunky sections on the steeper pitches.   The ATV group that maintains the trails are doing an excellent job mitigating OHV damage, and focused on a July 1 opening, so expect a few downed trees to deal with. Surface water (treatment required) is seasonally available in several locations.

Random camping sites are available in several locations, and identified on the RWGPS route file. A public lands camping pass is required. There are also developed drive-in campsites with pit toilets on the north side of the Bighorn Dam. As always, Leave No Trace!

If you’re looking for more bikepacking routes in the Rockies purchase Bikepacking in the Canadian Rockies.

All photos by K. Wirtanen or G. Stuart.