Mountain Hero - IMBA Epic
29 km, 1400 m elevation gain
5 km of descending, 835 m descent
5 1/2 hours
|Dropping into Mountain Hero on Montana Mountain (Carcross, Yukon)|
Somehow Kyle always finds the "epics," even in unlikely places. This is the 4th IMBA epic trail that we have done together and they always end up being a blast. As with all the epics so far, Mountain Hero was a long day. The common epic theme includes lots of pedaling and excellent scenery, without much in the way of technical riding (blue trail).
The access trail for Mountain Hero starts at the bottom of Montana Mountain in Carcross, Yukon. Montana Mountain is becoming a destination for mountain bikers thanks to its fun downhill trails (pedal or shuttle accessible). The trails were built by Carcross/Tagish First Nations youth as part of "Single Track to Success," a volunteer program to encourage reconnecting with the land and promote wellness in their community. Their ongoing efforts have resulted in a growing network of world-class mountain bike trails! Google it and check out the documentary SHIFT.
Since Mountain Hero is a point to point trail, there are a few logistics riding it. The easiest way would be to bring 2 cars and drop a car at the end of the trail (follow highway 2 south of Carcross for about ~17 km. Park in the parking area accessed by a short road on the left side of the highway immediately after you pass the old mining cable car tower and cross a creek), then shuttle as high as you can up Montana Mountain to avoid the lower part of the long climb. For people with one car, some choose to drop the car at the end of the trail, then start the ride with a pedal back to town. Its mostly downhill but it would still add on 17 km the day and can get quite windy along that stretch of road. We were told riding the road first is significantly better than riding it after the day on the trail. By dropping the car, you can also take advantage of the nearby creek to chill your post-ride beverages. We went with hitch-hiking. I left Kyle in Carcross with the bikes then drove to the parking area. People in the Yukon are very friendly and I was picked up by the first car that drove by! Even still, that took about 40 mins and we had to start riding from the lowest point on the mountain.
|Pedaling up double track in the lower Carcross Trails|
|Onwards and upwards towards Mountain Hero|
We stopped at a small warming hut for a snack before continuing up. The approach to the trail is long. Although not too steep, we frequently ended up pushing our bikes through the loose, rough terrain. We had started the climb at 3 in the afternoon so we were in the heat of the day which did not help!
|Kyle takes advantage of a cool stream on a hot day|
Soon we were in the alpine and had amazing views over Bennett Lake and the mountains of the Southern Yukon Territory. We kept our eyes peeled for bears and other wildlife that would be right at home in the low shrub.
|Getting up into the alpine on the long, loose climb|
|Alpine views and alpine flowers|
We took a break at the top of the pass. Afterwards, there was a long, rough descent before we started to climb again. We started to pass old ruins and the remains of a mining operation. It felt like we were stepping back in time into the gold rush as we passed old structures and mining equipment.
|Stopped for a snack at the top of the pass|
|Old mining relics with the trail in the background|
|Flowers, mountains and lakes|
|Old mining equipment along the trail|
It was a good feeling to reach the top of the trail! We stopped for a celebratory beer and a snack before lowering our seats and dropping in. At the end of July, the sun doesn't set until 11 pm so we weren't concerned that we were going to run out of daylight. We did however still have a 45 min drive back to Whitehorse after the ride, so we didn't linger long. The descent dropped us back down to the lake on a fast single track trail that cruised through the alpine before switch-backing through the forest. It wasn't too technical or steep, just fast and loose! We rode down beside the mining tram towers and the trail criss-crossed over the old cable. We even passed an old cable car laying on the ground. It was pretty cool!
|Finally made it!|
|Riding single track in the alpine glow|
|Beautiful evening for a ride|
The whole ride took us ~5.5 hours (including stops), and when you factor in the 1.5 hour round trip from Whitehorse, plus a car drop, it turns into a big day pretty quickly. We somehow managed to fit it into an afternoon, but I would recommend giving yourself a bit more time just in case! We came prepared with lots of food and water. It is pretty remote up there and we didn't see anyone else all day. Be prepared. This epic lives up to its name and can be pretty grueling, but the views and descent were worth it!