Background: Some of the
province's best mountain bike trails lie in the beautiful City of Saskatoon. The
South Saskatchewan River slices the city in two, creating many bridges and,
lucky for off-road cyclists, kilometers of winding single track through dense
bush and riverbed vegetation. The trails blanket the banks of the river and
offer a breathtaking combination of lush vegetation, wooded groves and
hard-packed soil. The area is especially beautiful in the summer months when the
system becomes engulfed by dense brush and fluorescent colors. Endless tunnels
of trails emerge and seem to create the experience of riding through a kind of
space-aged green tube.
The trails are largely clay and sand based, and
ride very grippy, even in mildly wet conditions. To the northeast, the trail
connects with the Sutherland beach area, home to the now provincially-famous
Kona Cup. Even during years when the city has experienced torrential rains, the
race continues, unabated by the wet, muddy conditions. This is due in large part
to the high sand and silt content of the trail soil, which makes mud clinging
not too serious a problem in the rain. Many of Saskatoon's trails are rideable
in wet conditions, and this is no more obvious than driving past any number of
locations to see die-hard cyclists out for the day in the rain.
the river from Sutherland beach, trails also extend to the north, and eventually
on toward the Wanuskewin Park area. This system combines single track through
poplar and aspen trees with riverside trails and rolling grasslands. Here, atop
the plains, some of the area's natural beauty shines as the river below cuts its
way through forested banks.
To the southwest, the Diefenbaker Park area
offers very exciting single track through forested areas along the river. The
trails lie directly below the parking facilities and spreads out into a maze of
interconnecting channel ways. The system proceeds further south for many
kilometers, winding in and out of trees, descending and climbing the riverbank
before reaching marshland. Single track hugs, berms and cork-screw flanks,
generate an almost roller-coaster like feel. The trails in this region will come
at you in two basic systems, divided in the middle by the characteristic gravel
road that emerges out into the river as a peninsula. These two systems are
affectionately known as Gerald One (G1) and Gerald Two (G2), named after their
creator. If you find the single track too difficult, you can take the upper
double track over grasslands.
One interesting aspect about Saskatoon is
the high number of cyclists throughout the city on any given day. It is not
clear if it is the university, with its high number of commuter cyclists, or the
appeal and lure of the city's trails that creates this phenomenon. City bike
stores claim that in recent years the popularity of the mountain bike has grown
at a phenomenal rate, in many cases disproportionately with respect to other
outlets of cycling.
The number of cyclists throughout the city has
forced police to enforce the use of bells on bikes. Be sure your bike has a bell
or some device that lets pedestrians know you are coming.
As well, an
extensive website has been developed to record information and maps on Saskatoon
trails. This site is maintained by Neil Clarke and can be found at
Difficulty: Beginner to Advanced
- Unfortunately, the trails, while they may be beautiful to look at and exciting
to walk on, are not the ideal ride for all cyclists. Many areas are extremely
difficult, and in some instances, dangerous. This is especially true for the
tight single track that runs below and parallel to the paved Meewasin Pathway,
and for G1 and G2. You are likely to encounter steep ridges, sharp, corkscrew
berms, very tight turns, on-coming traffic usually traveling at high speeds, and
The Sutherland Beach area to the north offers a
beautiful ride through the trees with less technical requirements. There are one
or two climbs that are difficult, however, the area is relatively open at that
point. Riders will not be suddenly surprised by difficult features as they would
encounter on some of the single track alongside the river.
opposite the Sutherland Beach area also offer less technical riding. However,
there is a new addition to this system, which is located in Silverwood, near the
sewage treatment facility. Riders have the choice of staying low on the
riverbank or continuing the ride northward on the grasslands. A tough single
track with steep climbs and descents make up most of the area (except for a
short double track by the Silverwood Golf Club). Due to its technical nature,
beginner or recreational riders should not attempt the lower system, although
technomanics may think they have discovered heaven.
Directions: The great thing
about riding in Saskatoon is that you need only drop down by the river and you
are immediately greeted with trails. The paved Meewasin Pathway runs on top of
the east bank with the main single track system running parallel to and below
it. To the north, you encounter the Sutherland Beach area; to the south,
Diefenbaker Park; and Silverwood is located in the northwest end of the city.
What to Bring: Many of the
trails are centrally located meaning you are never more than 20 minutes form the
nearest services. Please note that you should have a bell on your bicycle as
this is Saskatoon city bylaw.
A more complete trail guide is located in the Trail Guide section of the Bruce's Cycle Works webpage.