Bikepacking: Spray Lakes Area

August, 2018
3 day itinerary

Kid-friendly, Gravel riding, and Traffic free

Duration: 3 days, 2 nights
Location: Spray Valley Provincial Park
Total distance: 53.6 km (or more)

This is the perfect beginner family bikepacking or bike camping route. Plus, if it works best for your family, you can turn it into a wonderful car camping expedition. Or, if you’re like us, you can turn this into a day trip!

This out-and-back adventure has minimal elevation gains. My 71 year old mother and almost 7 year old daughter both easily rode the route. My husband used our 20″ wheeled Bike Friday Haul-a-Day schlepping our almost 4 year old on 1.75″ tires and was fine.

I have written up this little adventure as a trip report but due to a full campground, extreme heat, and heavy forest fire smoke levels — the latter two don’t mix so well with little kids — we have only ridden one section of this route so far: from the very southern end of the West Side Road of Spray Lakes (i.e. the southern end of Spray Lakes West Campground, parked in the day use area there). Because of Mother Nature and mothering younger children, this trip has yet to be completed in full; this write up is still very much a trip plan!

What we love about this trip

1. Flexibility

Using Spray Lakes West Campground as your base, this trip can be tailored to meet your family’s needs: bikepack, car camp, or day trip.  Map

2. The mountains

The geography in this valley is stunning. Massive slabs of rock reaching to the sky, twisty patterns on exposed faces. It’s enchanting.

3. Kid-friendly terrain

There is an abundance of kid-friendly terrain in this valley bottom. The hiking here is often straight up, but the biking routes established over time are simple.

Day 1

Park at Goat Creek Parking Lot (Highway 742) and ride the High Rockies Trail to Goat Pond and continue on to Spray Lakes Reservoir. At this point you are at the entrance to the Spray Lakes West Campground, check in and find your home for the night. Some sights are oriented more for groups; some are more private. This campground stretches for 6 km down the reservoir, with 50 sites scattered all along the water (and none above the road). It is a basic campground and is first-come first-served only, as such I do not recommend trying to do this trip on a weekend — aim for midweek — unless you are able to stake out a site on a Wednesday and pay for extra days (which seems to be the norm).

Day 2

Ride to the very end of the campground road (West Side Road) to the day use parking lot. Then ride along this vehicle-free gravel fire road along the shores of Spray Lakes Reservoir.

It is stunning.

See below for more details!

Day 3

Ride back the way you came on Day 3.

Or, if you have an industrious soul in your group who has already ridden back for your car (or perhaps you were clever and shuttled the car to the campground on Day 1), consider exploring another small section of the High Rockies Trail on the east side of the Spray Lakes Reservoir, at least until the point where it crosses the Smith-Dorrien highway.

 

Day 2: Details

Ride to the very end of the campground road (West Side Road) to the day use parking lot. Then ride along this vehicle-free gravel fire road along the shores of Spray Lakes Reservoir. It is stunning.

The first kilometre or so does have some loose gravel and sharper rocks that have fallen from the mountainside, but the rest of the journey is on the Spray Fire Road (aka West Side Road) that is in the best shape of all the fire roads I have ridden in the area. There are two well packed down rubble patches to ride over, remnants of the June 2013 flood, but that’s it for flood damage.

It is 10.8 km from the gate at the day use area until the giant dam. This was our turnaround point. I have been told that there is a beautiful waterfall worth checking out if you keep riding past the dam, cross a small bridge and then walk about 2 minutes down a trail…

This took about 2 hours of riding time (kid-paced for part of the trip and then my daughter was hooked up to our FollowMe Tandem for the rest of the trip), 3 hours total (including candy breaks, lunch, clothing changes, etc.): 21.6 km total.

Recent Trips

This is my family packing list. And, here is my master list of ideas and missions accomplished in the area, plus here are a few other recent trips that we have done:

Bikepacking: Little Elbow to Big Elbow

  This June we rolled the dice twice and went bike camping. It had felt like a long winter and I had a new bike to try under load so I was itching to get rolling. We happened to go to the same campground twice because that is just how it worked out...