Fueled with donuts and coffee the day begins navigating on two wheels amongst rugged prehistoric terrain of the river coulee. Shred hard and then refuel on your way to tackle rolling hills and thick forest at your next stop. Shred again, load up and then hit the road for the final destination. With two unique and diverse rides under your belt wrap it all up over post ride apres’ downtown. Read on to find out how I spent a perfect day in Medicine Hat mountain biking.
Discover the Medicine Hat Mountain Biking Scene
The Medicine Hat region at first impression seems like a flat desert grassland, what could it offer in terms of fun and exciting riding? The reality is that here lies a mountain bike oasis when you look a little closer.
With the South Saskatchewan river cutting a deep valley through the region it created a blank canvas for trails to be developed. Then to the east of the city lies Cypress Hills provincial park only a short 65km drive away. Rising up in a striking fashion the provincial park is home to steep hills and thick forest.
From the steep coulee banks of the river to the forest trails of the park locals have been busy cultivating a network of trails in this section of the Canadian Badlands region. I have had a chance in the past to get a quick feel for the riding in these two zones. Although on those visits I never got a chance to experience a fun full day in Medicine Hat mountain biking for myself. (SEE ~ Eco-Tourism Just Got Easier In Southern Alberta )
Finally my chance arrived and I got to spend a full day riding here thanks to my friends at Medicine Hat Tourism. This blog post will be an overview to the trails I rode as well as the places we stopped along the way for food and refreshments.
Riding the River Coulee Trails off Redcliff
From downtown Medicine Hat you can connect and ride all the way to the Redcliff coulee trailhead. Today we had a full day ahead of us with several stops so we opted to load the bikes on the car racks. Our first stop 10 minutes away from downtown Medicine Hat was at Redcliff Bakery. This small town gem is exactly how you would imagine it, fully stocked with all the tasty treats you could imagine. We of course grabbed coffee and donuts from their huge selection. My go to joke with riding and donuts is that they are my shredding energy pills.
A quick drive to the “Tower” parking lot, donuts done and coffee slammed it was time to ride. From the parking lot we actually rode east to the golf course trail head as our ride would encompass a complete loop of the river coulee. The flat grasslands quickly dropped away as we descending into the coulee on Death Valley Trail. The trail is a fun flowy blue trail that gets us into the fun stuff. Along the way we stopped as we were able to watch a mother deer and her fawn play on the bluffs alongside the trail.
The trail ended and the black diamond fun began as we pedalled up Old School. Once at the top we navigated the tight and technical turns back down to Tequila Sunrise. This blue trail was a leisurely cross country connector allowing nice views of the river flowing by as well as Echo Dale Regional Park across the water to the south.
At the end of Tequila Sunrise I was back on familiar ground as we now were riding on Slow Burn. Ride Slow Burn until you get to the intersection of the black diamond trail Falcon Punch which will be your “punchy” climb back out of the coulee. Once on the top ride back on River Valley Trail to the Tower parking lot where you started the ride.
I really enjoyed this riding zone as it is so radically different from the loamy dense rainforests I call home on the west coast. The trails demand attention and finesse on the loose clay as you shred through the corners. The open prehistoric like terrain begs you to stop at every new corner and at the top of each bluff to take in the jurassic park-like views. Check out a full 3-d tour of my ride here ~ Trailforks Ride Log
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Escape Into the Forested Cypress Hills Mountain Bike Trails
With the bikes loaded we drove back through Medicine Hat with a Riverside neighbourhood area stop at Zucchini Blossom Market & Cafe. I have been here several times before and its a great place for a meal anytime of the day. It should be noted that you can ride nearly 100% on pathway and trails from here to the Redcliff trails. Today though we were grabbing our food to go to so we can drive the 45 minutes east to Cypress Hills. On an interesting side note, the Redcliff Bakery we stopped at earlier in the day bakes bread for the Zucchini Blossom cafe. We all ordered the BFS (big fat sandwich) and let me tell you, this is the meal for a hungry MTBer.
Food and drink finished with our drive ending at the Cypress Hills Provincial Park Visitor Centre it was time for our second session of the day. The last time I rode here was 2 years earlier and only for a brief loop (SEE~ Fun Elkwater Summer Activities : Cypress Hills Provincial Park ) Today would be a much different ride and we were headed to give a fast downhill black diamond a go.
From the parking lot we made our way up Tower Trail which is a steady solid climbing route to get to the downhill sections. Near the top we turned onto another blue rated trail, Cobble Miner Trail. This trail was a thick pine forest uniquely wide open under the upper canopy creating a fun xc trail. The trail crosses back over Tower Trail and then terminates at the start of Last Grizzly.
Last Grizzly was a super well built downhill black diamond trail that is the perfect fix for the speed demons out there. Well built and well maintained the trail is endless berms with several fun drops and rollers integrated into the route.
With the speed fix behind us we made our way onto Ranger Trail to reach the board walk trail along Elkwater Lake on Soggy Bottom Trail. Soggy bottom eventually becomes Shoreline Trail and the best part of our ride, ice cream treats! An ice cream shack welcomed us to the end of our ride and treat for the shredding. Check out a full 3-d tour of my ride here ~ Trailforks Ride Log
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It really is awesome how earlier in the day we were ripping on badland coulee trails and now we ended a shred through thick pine forests. Medicine Hat mountain biking really offered some great diversity in a single day of riding. With the riding all done it was time to drive back into the city and set our sights on “The Yard”.
The Yard Downtown is located in the heart of historic downtown Medicine Hat. This converted empty lot nestled in between two iconic red brick buildings is the site of a unique backyard experience in a downtown setting. The Yard is a super casual space built like a your backyard deck in a relaxing atmosphere. They serve drinks from the three local breweries and each night is a different food truck for your hunger cravings.
We enjoyed ourselves recalling the fun spots to ride and planning for the next visit. While the ride was a bit longer this time around and I had so much fun, seeds were planted for another epic trip. Hmmm SE Alberta bikepacking trip from Medicine Hat to Cypress Hills maybe? The region is only limited to your imagination when it comes to fun on two wheels.
670 Collective Making Mountain Biking in Medicine Hat Epic
As with all mountain bike riding zones we need to give a big thanks and shout-out to the dedicated volunteers and passionate riders who make it possible for us to enjoy the trails. When it comes to Medicine Hat Mountain Biking that falls to 670 Collective.
They share on their page, “We believe that, with the two distinctive and dramatic landscapes of the badlands of the Medicine Hat area and the rugged mountain like-terrain of the Cypress Hills, our region can someday become a popular destination for mountain bikers in Western Canada and the US.”
I think they will achieve this goal after riding here. Be sure to Donate on their website or if you are on Trailforks drop them some Trail Karma next time you ride. Trail organizations deserve our support to help them continue the great work they do on mountain bike trails everywhere.
Disclosure: This post was published in partnership with Tourism Medicine Hat who graciously hosted me for my ride day so that I could get in a full day of riding to share with you all.
For more ideas on what to do in Medicine Hat, extend your stay and check out these posts.
- Explore Medicine Hat by Bike
- Discover the Medicine Hat Craft Beer Scene
- Top Things To Do in Medicine Hat This Summer
For other trip ideas and mountain bike destinations check out my Travel Destination Page . You can also extend the fun by following on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter where I share photos and stories daily from getting outdoors.