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Summer Outdoor Activities in Merritt BC

Summer Adventures and Activities in The Nicola Valley

Outdoor summer activities in Merritt BC , offers a wide range of sunshine fun.  200 lakes, mountain biking trails and more makes the Nicola Valley a great choice for your next destination spot in the summer. Merritt’s  slogan says it all “A Lake A Day For As Long As You Stay”.  And we have rivers too! I guarantee when it comes to experiencing summer outdoor activities in the Nicola Valley,  it will make you wish you planned for more time so to go kayaking, boating, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and viewing wildlife.   

“I don’t need therapy, I just need my boat.” Unknown

Summer Activities Merritt BC.

Gone Fishing! Photo by Tania Stewart.

Summer Activities Merritt BC

Outdoor Activities Merritt BC.

Swimming fun! Picture courtesy Tania Stewart.

Outdoor Activities Merritt BC.

Nature’s poolside, were you can find me. Photo by Tania Stewart.

Summer Activities in Merritt BC Includes Lundbom Lake 

Lundbom Lake is truly one of my favorite Summer Activities in Merritt BC. A beautiful lake which is located only 10 minutes from downtown Merritt BC. Moreover  Lundbom Lake  is a great location for camping, fishing and horseback riding. While the surrounding area also provides excellent mountain biking and ATV/dirt bike riding. Along with having sunny and shady sites. Open from Apr 26, 2019 – Oct 14, 2019. Outdoor  

Summer Activities Merritt BC.

Julie Pollard “Is that the big one?” Photo Tania Stewart.

 

Summer Activities Merritt BC.

Enjoying the dock. Photo by Tania Stewart.

Outdoor Activities Nicola Valley.

View of Lundbom Lake. Photo TS.

 

“I camp here until the end of October most years.” Unknown Tourist.

 

Kayaking on Lundbom. Photo by ehCanadaTravel.com.

EhCanadatravel

Fall camping Eh! Photo courtesy ehCanadaTravel.com

 

“Lundbom Lake is very quiet and peaceful. Little noise pollution during all 3 of our visits. That is all we have to base it on. So it works for us.” Eh Canada Travel Website

Outdoor Summer & Fall Activities in the Nicola Valley BC. Canada.

Lake Trout. Photo Greg Girard.

Outdoor Summer & Fall Activities in the Nicola Valley BC. Canada.

Lundbom Lake Fall night. Photo by Greg Girard.

“THE FISHING ROCKS! Had to get that one out.” Greg Girard.

Outdoor Activities Merritt BC

Horse back riding has to be one of the best summer  activities everyone can enjoy. A great opportunity to take in all of Mother Nature’s beauty. Trail riding is truly a Summer & Fall activity everyone can enjoy together in Merritt B.C. Offering a few choices, the Nicola Valley provides a day of adventure with nature in a saddle.  

Horse Camping at Lundbom Lake. Photo by Tania Stewart.

Outdoor Activities Merritt BC.

A-P Guest Ranch. Photo by Tania Stewart.

Fall Fly Fishing in the Nicola Valley

Fly Fishing being a popular sport, Merritt BC has it made with 200 lakes.  There is no wonder to why Corbett Lake Lodge is an anglers dream during the fall months. For all your supplies that you may need, surely drop by Ponderosa Sports located downtown Merritt.  

Summer Activities Merritt BC

Dragon Flies. Photo TS.

Summer Adventure on Nicola Valley’s Lakes

Fishing for bait. Picture by Tania Stewart.

 

Best Fishing Lakes Near Merritt

It should be noted that the Nicola Valley boast’s some of the best fishing in the World! There are over 200+ lakes in the region. Many are prime lake fishing destinations, including Garcia Lake, Marquart Lake, Hamilton Lake, Edna Lake, Mathew Lake, Morgan Lake, Roth Lake, Gwen Lake, Lundbom Lake and Lily Lake. Located just outside of Merritt, Marquart Lake is a small, clear lake which offers good rainbow trout fishing, camping and other outdoor activities nearby. 

Were to Start Planning Your Summer Activities

One place to start is our travel website Experience Merritt. Once you have your bearings than check out some of the fishing experiences on this blog site. Last, but not least, ask a local or visit Ponderosa Sport’s downtown Merritt.

 

Kennedy Lake Hike

Kennedy Lake Hike. Photo Credit: Tania Stewart

Mountain Biking Outdoor Activities Merritt BC

Outdoor adventure mountain biking on the many trails surrounding the Nicola Valley provide endless days of exploring the backcountry.  No crowds. Lots of trails. Mouth-dropping scenery. Therefore to enjoy the trails in our backcountry all you need is a water bottle, the right gear and your ride. Nature and the adrenaline rush provides the rest. In reality the Nicola Valley provides the beautiful backcountry scenery, the wildlife sightings, the remote wilderness lakes and forested rolling hills. A nature enthusiasts dream space. Questions? You can drop a line with Merritt Mountain Biking Association

Mountain Biking Fun

Mountain Biking Fun. Photo by Jordan Pinto.

Mountain Biking - Merritt BC

Scenic trails. Photo by Jordan Pinto.

Moreover Hiking/Backpacking 

Truly enjoying the fall weather while hiking in the Nicola Valley is a must. Making sure to have your compass, water, picnic basket and a camera to capture your adventure. With the City of Merritt being located in a valley surrounded by mountains makes this an ideal destination place for avid backpackers and hikers. Generally having on the average sunny warm fall days makes it a pleasant day of hiking and adventure for the whole family. Reminder to always tell someone were you will be hiking if alone.

merritt bc camping

Harmon Lake. Photo courtesy of Experience Nicola Valley Blogger Tom Reynolds.

Scenic nature. Photo by Tania Stewart.

Summarizing Outdoor Activities in The Nicola Valley

Outdoor Activities in Merritt BC truly will have you smiling and knowing that you just had the best summer.  While Merritt can boast over 200 lakes with desert-like weather truly makes this your next vacation spot. “ A Lake A Day as Long as You Stay” has been it’s local slogan for decades. Equally making this your next destination place for activities such as kayaking, boating, mountain biking, hiking, paragliding or just lazily strolling lake trails.  Truly making this your next destination vacation spot!

Summer Fun in The Nicola Valley

Come and Experience the Adventure

 

Nicola Valley Travel and Tourism Guides

nicola valley talk show

“Experience Community Program” is a small and rural community authentic content marketing program. It is a product of the EH? Canada Marketing Group.  Contact us today to bring this award winning community program to your region. 

Merritt Mountain Biking in the Nicola Valley

Experience Mountain Biking Trails in Merritt British Columbia Canada

It is easy to get outdoors and go Merritt mountain biking in the Nicola Valley

 

Exciting News 2021

The MMBA is happy to announce through a Targeted Regional Tourism Development Initiative grant that they have received funding for $145,000 towards the Merritt trail system. We are very excited as this will be a huge benefit to Merritt and the surrounding areas! Jordan Pinto.

Outdoor Extreme Merritt Mountain Biking – Along with getting some quality time outdoors, mountain biking in the Nicola Valley provides the best type of sightseeing on wheels. No crowds. Lots of trails. Mouth-dropping scenery. Therefore to enjoy the trails in our backcountry all you need is a water bottle and your ride. Nature and the adrenaline rush provides the rest.

Merritt Mountain Biking Association

The Merritt Mountain Biking Association gets all the credit in the Nicola Valley for our trails and for creating such extreme rides.  The Nicola Valley provides the beautiful backcountry scenery, the wildlife sightings,  the remote wilderness  lakes  and the many forested rolling hills. It is here in British Columbia Canada where mountain biking is free. Make this your mountain biking adventure vacation destination spot. 

merritt mountain biking

After the final climb on Swakum Mountain. Photo Jordan Pinto.

Obviously the Nicola Valley Offers Some of the “Best” Terrain in BC for Avid Mountain Bikers 

Being centrally located, Merritt mountain biking offers a wide range of biking trails for newbies and extreme mountain bikers alike. In addition, Merritt tends to experience mild winters with little snowfall and warm, dry, sunny summers making Merritt a year round mountain biking destination most years.  The best thing about Merritt British Columbia is it is a great base camp for mountain biking in nearby areas like the trails in  Kamloops, Kelowna, and the Fraser Valley. A fact that adds to the shine that Merritt is a great destination for multiple mountain biking adventures within BC. But it all starts here. Experience the Nicola Valley on a mountain bike!

Merritt Mountain Biking - Experience Nicola Valley

Town of Merritt, BC, Canada

Merritt Mountain Biking Nicola Valley

Hoodoos Merritt BC Moonshadows Rv Park Coldwater River.

 

Outdoor Extreme Merritt Mountain Biking

Merritt Mountain Biking Accusation. Photo courtesy of Jordan Pinto.

Outdoor Extreme Mountain Biking

Photo by Jordan Pinto President of MMBA.

Become One With Nature

Isn’t it amazing how the power of nature and spending time outdoors can change your mood and mental health. Furthermore, several studies have confirmed the benefits of nature and  physical activity can impact personal stress.  In the midst of this trying and difficult time, everyone needs to feel less stress. It might be time to enjoy some nature by participating in some Merritt mountain biking.

Outdoor Extreme Mountain Biking in Merritt BC

Photo by Jordan Pinto

Nicola Valley Mountain Biker

Photo by Experience Nicola Valley.

Nicola Valley Biking

Important to know we enjoy 220+ kilometers of mountain biking trails in the Nicola Valley with 3 main trail riding destinations – Swakum Mountain , Coutlee Plateau and Iron Mountain. Coutlee Plateau primary trail type is cross-country. Iron Mountain is an all-out mountain & downhill trail network. Check out Trailforks and Experience Merritt for more information about the Nicola Valley. To clarify,  there are trails that will challenge the most experienced rider.  Also offering some of the best family oriented biking trails in the region. Notably some trails can last for hours while some may be quicker. The only time schedule is yours with nature. Enjoy while  connecting with a lot of majestic scenery. Expressly there is zero disappointment on any of these trails.  

Mountain Biking - Merritt BC

Mountain Biking trails – Merritt BC. Photo Trailforks Jordan Pinto

Extrememountainbikingnicolavalley

Mountain trails. Photo by Jordan Pinto.

 

What more is there

After you have conquered one or more of MMBA trails, take time to cool off and relax in one of the many outdoor patios that are scattered around Merritt. For a small town we have a great selection of restaurants and pubs. Understanding that it may take more than one day to tackle all the trails that MMBA has to offer, Merritt has a generous  selection of hotels and motels. Or are you choosing to camp. With over 200 lakes to pick from or if wanting to camp close to downtown Merritt. The Nicola Valley is your summer destination vacation. 

Merritt Mountain Biking - Experience Nicola Valley

Monck Park Beach.

 In fact check out  Monck Park  just 22 km north of Merritt, and then 12 km off Hwy 5A via narrow paved road. The park rests on the shores of one of our lakes. It just happens to be called Nicola Lake.  

Merrittbc

Lundbom Lake. Photo courtesy of ehCanadaTravel.com.

Mountainbiking

Claybanks Merritt BC. Photo by Tania Stewart.

Camping on the River

The Claybanks RV Park and Campground offers spacious, well-maintained sites along the Coldwater River. Claybanks has you covered with 44 full-serviced RV sites and 20 tenting sites. This pet-friendly campground is open year-round. While located south of Merritt along the Coldwater River, the Moon Shadows RV Park and Campground offers great camping year-round. Especially both campgrounds being pet-friendly. 

outdoorswimming.

Alleyne Lake. Photo by Tania Stewart.

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Monck Park. Photo by Tania Stewart.

jordan pinto

Jordan Pinto – Merritt Mountain Biking Association

The MMBA (Merritt Mountain Biking Association) came into existence in the spring of 2000.

Jordan Pinto, the President, shared with us that their intentions are to make the riding in the Nicola Valley a great experience. Therefore, one of their primary goals is to advocate for long term trail access by working with Government.

Consequently, the MMBA was one of the first groups in the province to have an agreement with the crown to manage the trails we ride. The MMBA has signed a new agreement with the Province in 2012. Contact Jordan Pinto, the President of the Merritt Mountain Biking Association in Merritt BC Canada, for more information. 

Including the breathtaking and amazing scenery, Merritt has much more to offer. 

Of course during your down time you could take some enjoyment in checking out our downtown shopping. Notably Merritt’s downtown core offers a wide variety of hidden gems.  Truly take the time and stroll downtown Merritt BC.

 

Coldwater Hotel

Thanks to the Coldwater hotel.

 

Nicolavalleytrails

Walking the Trail. Photo by Tom Reynolds.

The best time to visit Merritt BC, Canada is in the summer, fall, winter and the spring. With it’s dry climate through-out the year make it an ideal “Destination Place” year-round . Unknown tourist from the coast.

Whether you are a beginner or a pro mountain biker, Merritt BC provides trails for every-one, every-category and skill level. We have the services to make your stay rock.  Numerous Hotels, Motels, B&Bs as well as campground and RV parks.  The Nicola Valley has it all. Importantly you can leave the hustle and stress behind of the big city and enjoy our small town hospitality. That is truly enjoyable.  Come and join us and explore!

Merritt Mountain Biking in the Nicola Valley, BC. 

 

Nicola Valley BC Canada

 

Nicola Valley Mountain Biking Adventures

Merritt British Columbia Canada Top Travel Guides

Merritt BC Outdoor Activities Covid 19 Style 

Social Distancing Outdoor Activities with Family & Friends in The Nicola Valley

Here are 5 outdoor activities in the Nicola Valley to be enjoyed while physical distancing

 

Merritt BC outdoor Activities throughout the Nicola Valley and in Merritt BC Canada. As a result of Covid19 we have spent months on end in our homes. Undoubtedly this is trying on the nerves and sanity. However, there is a glimmer of hope as Canada B.C is restarting the economy and loosening the travel restrictions. Now, with safety and respect in mind, we can now enjoy certain activities. Therefore here are “5” Activities we can all enjoy while safe distancing Covid19 Style around Merritt BC.  The following activities can be enjoyed during the upcoming summer and fall!

Merritt BC Outdoor Activity 1 : Horseback Riding 

Click for a complete list of horseback riding ranches, tours and guides in the Nicola Valley

Absolutely one of my favourite outdoor activities! Truly practicing social distancing while being outdoors taking in the beautiful “Nicola Valley”. Could it get any better than this! Playing cowboy / cowgirl in the wilderness backcountry of British Columbia. There are many options when it comes to horseback riding in the Nicola Valley.

Merritt BC Outdoor Activities

Horseback riding with our friends at AP Ranch. Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart.

Exploring the Nicola Valley on Horseback

Horseback riding is great exercise for the horse, and somewhat for yourself. The Merritt adventure offers a number of health and fitness benefits including the development of leg muscles, as well as, improving balance & posture. Most importantly, horseback riding reduces stress and refreshes your inner self. That is my take on the healthy benefits of horseback riding in the Nicola Valley. 

Outdoor Activities Covid19 Style. Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart.

“What better way to enjoy the wilderness” Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart.

 

Outdoor Activities Covid19 Style in Merritt BC.

Riding with a friend, Experience Nicola Valley Blogger Melvina White. Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart.

Merritt BC Outdoor Activity 2: Lake Fishing

Click for a complete list of fishing resorts in the Nicola Valley

It should be noted that the Nicola Valley boast’s some of the best fishing in the World! There are over 200+ lakes in the region. Many are prime lake fishing destinations. Some are even ideal ice fishing destinations as well during the winter season. During the spring, summer and fall,  Corbett Lake Lodge is one of the fishing resorts and lodges in the Nicola Valley. 

Outdoor Activities Covid19 Style

Corbett Lake Lodge, Merritt BC. Photo courtesy of  Corbett Lake Lodge.

Fishing Outfitter Store in Merritt BC     

Whether you are looking to catch that elusive “Big One” or just trolling, enjoying the outdoors, dropping some lures in a lake or riverbed.  But stuff happens! Oh no… you forgot your favourite fishing lure. Maybe the fish are biting but you do not have the right fly? Or the scorching sun is so hot, you need a good fishing hat? What ever your fishing needs drop into Ponderosa Sports downtown Merritt BC.  The outfitter shop specializes in trout flies & lures, and much more! 

MerrittBC

For that “Big One”. Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart.

 

Outdoor Activities Covid19 Style

Everything you may need. Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart.

“Best” Fishing Holes

Many arrive in the valley to fish… but where to fish is the biggest challenge? We do have over 200+ lakes. One place to start is researching using the most complete and largest Nicola Valley adventure website. Once you have your bearings than check out some of the fishing experiences on this blog site. Last, but not least, ask a local or contact us.  First hand information as well as the right lures are essential.  

Merritt BC Outdoor Activity 3 & 4 : Camping & Water Sports

(kayaking, canoeing, boating and swimming)

For a complete list of kayak and canoe activities in the Nicola Valley  and for paddle boarding too

Without a doubt “The Nicola Valley” offers some of the best lakes for every avid outdoors person. The valley is home to so many water activities for all ages. Come visit the valley for a day of fun or a week or two of camping in Merritt at one of our privately operated campgrounds or at one of our forestry wilderness campsites.  

“My favourite spot for camping in Merritt BC Canada, Harmon Lake in the Kane Valley,” Experience Nicola Valley Blogger Tom Reynolds

 

merritt bc camping

Harmon Lake. Photo courtesy of Experience Nicola Valley Blogger  Tom Reynolds.

Outdoor Activities Covid19 StyleMerritt BC.

We also have a beautiful Provincial Campground Park located 22 kms north of the community of Merritt, BC, Canada. The park? The park is called Monck Park

The Nicola Valley Provincial Park offers a wide assortment of recreational activities including camping, picnicking, swimming, fishing, boating, water-skiing, wind-surfing and hiking.

Covid19 Stylemerrittbc

Summer Boating can u beat it? Photo courtesy Tania Stewart.

Merritt kayaking

Kayaking on Lundbom Lake. Photo courtesy Tania Stewart.

 

Absolutely Beautiful Alleyne!

Nicolavalleycovid19

Alleyne Lake. Photo courtesy of Tania Stewart.

Merritt BC Outdoor Activity 5: Mountain Biking

Merritt Mountain Biking Association 

Located here in the Nicola Valley, the Merritt Mountain Biking Association is truly a great resource for mountain biking when you have arrived in the community.   Incidentally one of their primary goals is advocating for long term trail access by working with Government and community groups. Consequently, the MMBA was one of the first groups in the province to have an agreement with the crown to manage the trails they ride.  Get a hold of Jordan Pinto for more information. And dare to ride! 

 

Photo courtesy of  Jordan Pinto.

“Our intentions are to make the riding in the Nicola Valley a great experience,” Jordan Pinto.

Watch Video 

Filmed by Jordan Pinto going down the “Willow”

In Conclusion

Physical distancing refers to staying away from group gatherings and large public spaces where a virus can be easily spread, and keeping a distance of around two metres. Moreover we all must practice safety and “Wash your Hands”. Even though our country is opening up again, we all need to stay aware while enjoying our outdoor activities we love so much. Play safe. Play often. 

 

Merritt BC Outdoor Activities in the Nicola Valley

Merritt British Columbia Canada Top Travel Guides

Bears in Merritt BC Canada

How to safely live with Bears in Merritt & throughout the Nicola Valley

Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee saves lost black bear cub named “Merritt”

Safely living with Bears in Merritt BC Canada brought to you with the help of Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee. Everyone can live in harmony with the Bears who share our habitat. This fall I was very fortunate to meet Lydia Koot and Cecilia Fraga from the Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee. Coincidentally, these two amazing women are volunteers who are passionate advocates for all wildlife. Recently they both traveled from Hope BC in the early morning hours to rescue a black bear cub we named “Merritt”.  A very adorable cub who was running around on the Bench. Lost and motherless, this little cub probably wouldn’t of survived the winter.

“Bear awareness can save our Bears” Tania Stewart, eco blogger with Experience Nicola Valley

Bears in Merritt BC

Hope Mountain volunteer Cecilia Fraga.

hope mountain black bear

Lydia Koot Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee.

Bears in Merritt BC: How we can reduce human-bear conflicts in Merritt BC Canada.

experiencemerritt

Follow some simple steps from Hope Mountain black bear committee :
  •  Store garbage , including recycle bin in garage or a secure location.
  •  Only place garbage & recycle bins in the morning of pickup.
  •  Remove bird feeders during bear season. ( mid May-to mid November).
  •  Turn compost often. Don’t add any cooked food, dairy, or fish to compost.
  •  Keep pet food inside or in a bear resistant container.
  •  Pick ripe and fallen fruit daily. Remove unused fruit trees.
  •  Clean your barbecues after each use, cover and store if possible.
  •  Keep refrigerators & freezers inside.
  •  Use electric fencing to protect small live stock or fruit trees. Refer to local by-laws for restriction on electric fencing.
Bears in Merritt BC Canada

Little cub named “Merritt”

Important to realize “If you see a Bear”. Living with bears in Merritt BC. Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee. Lydia Koot. 

  •  Stay calm, don’t panic.
  •  Don’t yell. Speak calmly to let bear know you are nearby.
  •  Never approach a bear and do not run from it.
  •  Back away slowly, moving in the direction you came from.
  •  Go indoors with your children and pets immediately.
  •  Warn others about the presence of bear.
  •  Once bear has left area, check your yard to make sure there are no attractions available such as fruit.
Black bears in Merritt BC

Hiding in tree, “Merritt”.

“Problem bears” do not naturally exist, they are created by humans who allow them access to food. Lydia Koot.

Importantly call the Conservation Officer Service.

merritt bc conservation officer

Dedicated Merritt Conservation Officer.

If a bear is threatening please call the conservation officer service at 1-877-952-RAPP (7277) or your local police. The B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) is a public safety provider focused on natural resource law enforcement and human wildlife conflicts prevention and response. Our vision is to be a progressive and respected leader in environmental compliance and enforcement, shared stewardship and public safety.

Once conditioned to look for “Easy” food from humans the bear usually becomes a public safety hazard. It is the bear that pays for human mistakes with it’s life. Lydia Koot.

To emphasize.

Whether you are camping, biking, hiking or just enjoying the out-doors. Respect all wildlife and how your footprint impacts your environment. Seeing a bear in its natural habitat can be amazing. A memorable  experience. Above all avoid encounters by making noise, let wildlife hear you. Never hike alone, and always be alert. Look for signs of bears, such as claw marks on trees, scat (fresh that is), logs ripped apart and overturned rocks.

Remember: In B.C. it is an offence to feed or leave attractants available to dangerous wildlife. Lydia Koot.

merritt bear in nicola valley

Remove bird feeders.

Merritt BC Canada wildlife

Pick all fruit trees.

Another key point.

Although a bear cub may look adorable and cute. They are wild and even though small could do a lot of damage if provoked. Importantly to call conservation officer or local police to deal with bear. Additionally knowing “Black Bear” facts. Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee.

  •  Black bears have variations of colors from black, brown, blonde and cinnamon.
  •  Have good eyesight.
  •  Sense of smell is 10x stronger than a bloodhound.
  •  Will stand on their back legs to better identify what is in front of them.
  •  Can run faster than you, and change direction quickly.
  •  Are strong swimmers.
  •  Are highly curious and intelligent.

“If I don’t like my neighbour, I cannot go to the RCMP and tell them, ‘Look, could you please take that neighbour away because I don’t like him,’ ” said Koot. “Well, that’s the same with wildlife. We live in wildlife country, so we cannot just go and shoot any animals that happen to walk to town, or go and build a wall around it.” Lydia Koot.

bears in merritt

Cub in a tree.

In conclusion

Everyone can live in harmony with the Bears who share our habitat.  With some education provided from Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee we can learn to live safely with bears. Firstly, be “Bear” aware and understand “Bear” necessities and “Facts”. Then take the simple steps to prevent “Bears” becoming public safety hazards so they do not pay with their lives because of our ignorance.

A brochure provided by Lydia Kootof Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee helped me understand how to be better “Bear Aware”.

The work provided by the Hope Mountain Black Bear Committee is possible with the financial support provided by:

For more information go to: www.hopemountain.org.

Or contact Lydia Koot at 604-860-4558. lkoot@hopemountain.org

Be Bear Aware

Living with Bears in Merritt BC Canada

Camping in Merritt BC and the Nicola Valley

Harmon Lake in the Kane Valley

 

This is the second time around for this blog on Camping in Merritt and the Nicola Valley.  I previously released this in the winter but decided it might be more interesting to those looking for a great spot to camp without over crowding.  The site at Harmon Lake is a Forestry Recreation Site and therefore there are no reservations taken.  Mid week is usually the best time to arrive as the weekends can be quite busy.

My favourite spot for camping in Merritt BC Canada

I have talked about camping in Merritt BC and the Nicola Valley before but this time I want to introduce you to one of my top spots – Harmon Lake in the Kane Valley.  I know we have shifted into winter and camping is probably not high on your list of things to do, but I need to get this down on paper now so you can file this under–“remember for camping season” 

What do you like to do when camping in Merritt BC?

We like to start our day with a delicious breakfast.  There is nothing better than eating pancakes with homemade blueberry syrup and bacon beside a beautiful lake while camping in Merritt BC and the Nicola Valley! Scrambled eggs and gourmet sausages are pretty good too.

Camping in Merritt BC

Great Breakfast With Family

Post breakfast activities

After breakfast we grabbed our bikes and headed out on a little trip along Kane Valley Road.  There are many lakes to see on this road with wild life on either side, especially birds for people who are into this activity.  Bikes can also be used on the 55 kilometers of x-country ski trails with the added bonus of picnic tables and pit toilets in various places along the trail.  These facilities are not maintained in the summer so please be kind to your fellow adventurers and leave the places clean.

Merritt BC Camping

Game night while camping

We interspersed our activities with some serious reading and outstanding meals.  As well, we filled in our night time with Board Games and sitting around the fire.

Nicola Valley campfires

Nicola Valley Campfires and stories

“There is nothing like sitting around the campfire and reading a good book”–Andrea Reynolds

How to get to Harmon Lake in Merritt

From Merritt, BC you take the Okanagan Connector (Hwy 97C) towards Kelowna for approximately 14 kilometers.  You will see the sign for Harmon Lake (if you missed that sign look for the x-country ski sign–it will get you to the same place). Make the right turn onto Kane Valley Rd and follow it approximately  8 kilometers.  At this point you have a decision to make.  On the left you will see the entrance to the east campground.  If you stay on Kane Valley Rd for about 800 meters you will come to the West Campground. (link to map)

experiencemerritt

Heading west 

The west campground in my mind is prettier than the east campground and the sites are further apart.  The down side is that it can be windier than its counterpart.  The east side has more amenities such as the boat launch, the campground host, access to the lake and hiking trails.

What you need when you are camping at Harmon Lake

My family prefers non motorized activities and so we bring our bikes, kayaks and hiking boots

Harmon Lake in Merritt adventures

If you like motorized vehicles there are plenty of places to use your ATV, dirt bike or fishing boat with a small motor.

Harmon Lake in Merritt BC

Looking out from the shoreline trail at Harmon Lake

Hiking in the Kane Valley

Hiking is one of our favourite things to do.  The easiest hike is the shoreline trail that takes you around the lake.  One of the bonuses of this hike is that it is located in a Forestry Recreational Area. It has an interpretive site that provides a lot of information on the eco systems of the lake area.  This is an easy hike and takes about 45 minutes to an hour.

There are 55 kilometers of ski trails with varying levels of difficulty.  They all provide a great forest experience. Times of these hikes vary with length and difficulty.

Kayaking on Harmon Lake

Harmon is great for this activity.  The lake is small so you are usually not far from any edge of the lake so you really don’t have to worry about falling in the Lake!  It is a beautiful lake but it seems even prettier when you are looking on shore from your Kayak

Kayaking in Merritt BC

Cruising on Harmon lake

When all is said and done it is easy to see why one of my favourite places to camp in Merritt and the Nicola Valley is Harmon Lake.

Harmon Lake is camping in Merritt BC

Nicola Valley Campgrounds

Bike Rentals in Merritt BC

Bikes, kayaks and paddleboard rentals – Breathe Bikes

Bike rentals in Merritt BC includes kayaking and paddleboards when talking with my fellow blogger and Breath Bikes business owner, Travis Fehr. Travis is the proud owner of Breathe Bikes in Merritt BC Canada.  The bike shop is a good starting point in Merritt for mountain biking, kayaking and SUP rentals during your summer visits to the Nicola Valley. 

Mountain Biking-Rentals-Canada-Merritt

Travis Fehr outside his bike shop in Merritt BC

10 Questions For A Merritt BC Bike Shop 

I asked Travel Fehr (bike shop owner) 10 questions about his Nicola Valley business. So pull up a stump and have a read about the only bike store in Merritt BC Canada.

Mountian bikes-Rentals-Canada-Merritt

Q1: Why did you want to start Breathe Bikes?

A: I have been working in bike shops for over 3 years and I got to the point where I wanted to be the boss. I was working in Camrose Alberta in a bike shop.

” I wanted to move away from the harsh winters of the prairies because I grew up in Saskatchewan. My family and I wanted to move to some place where the Winters weren’t so harsh and some place where they had excellent biking trails but no bike shops and Merritt fit all the those things.”

Q2: What did you do before you started Breath Bikes?

A: Before working in bike shops I was in the transportation industry in the Lower Mainland for many years. After realizing that I lost my passion for my career, I asked myself why should I keep doing what I don’t have a passion for?

Q3: What has been your biggest hurdle as a business owner?

A: Continuous learning. Being in business as a sole proprietor, you have to wear so many hats. Because there are so many things you have to know. You have to be open to learning and polishing your skills. It’s definitely a hurdle, but it’s also rewarding. I feel good when I am always learning. It keeps you motivated that’s for sure.

Q4: How long have you been in operation?

A:  We opened here in May of 2013, I can’t believe it’s already been 6 years.

Breathe Bikes

Q5: What sets you apart from the competition?

A: There is some competition with the big box stores. but the obvious difference is that I specialize in higher end bikes and bikes that are a little bit different in their specifications. As well, I offer full service and maintenance on all of those bikes. I also like to think that I am connected to my community.  

Q6: What is your best selling model?  

A: The hardtail mountain bike is my best selling model.

Q7: Besides bikes what else do you sell?

A: Cross country skis, snowshoes, kayaks, paddle boards and our newest product is stunt scooters. We not only sell them but people can rent them too. We also sell bikes, of course. Oh and we also do bike repairs!

Q8: What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

A: I don’t want to sound like I’m patting myself on my back but I like to help those in need, when I can and in any way I can. Kids Christmas bikes. I donate kids bikes that have been used, I rebuild them. I’m really proud of that.

Q9: What is your company’s goals?

A: TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!! No but seriously, I want to grow my business, to see more growth of Merritt by encouraging active transportation and recreation culture of Merritt and the surrounding area. I would like to see that grow as well as see my business grow with it. I also want to stay grounded. Because sometimes you see businesses start small and get big and then they tend to lose their heart in that process. I don’t want that to happen, so I want to stay grounded and community focused and keep it real.

Q10: If you had ONE piece of advice for someone just starting out a business, what would it be?

A: Stay Positive! There’s going to be obstacles, setbacks and the only defeat is to give up.

Well my friends, that is Travis Fehr and Breathe Bikes . 

Another feather in his cap was that Travis also helped fix up and rebuild the bike park in Central Park. This is complimented by his dedication to develop, maintain and design mountain bike paths in and around the Merritt area. To top it all off he is also a member of Council for the City of Merritt.

Some of the mountain biking events, of which, Travis is an active supporter of some of Merritt’s biggest mountain biking races include the Merritt Crown and the Epic 1000

So if you are driving through the Nicola Valley from out of town or even out of the country and are itching to go for  quick bike ride. Be sure to stop by and see Travis at Breathe Bikes just down from the Coldwater Hotel.

Thank you so much for you time, I now return you to your regularly scheduled scrolling

Bike Rentals in Merritt BC Canada

Merritt BC Canada Things To Do – Mountain Biking!

Mountain biking in Merritt – steep and gnarly or smooth and flowy…

Ridge – a BC Trail with something for everyone

One of my favorite things to do in Merritt, BC Canada that never gets old! Mountain biking in Merritt can be as steep and gnarly or smooth and flowy for just about anyone from the beginner to the full-on down-hill animal. Ridge is the kind of BC trail that has a bit of something for everyone.

Merritt bc canada things to do-rock rollover Ridge trail

Pinkbike user “sidecut” shared this photo to Trailforks

Too Much Information

Getting to the top of Ridge is a substantial climb. It takes the average mountain biker about forty-five minutes to reach the top. Too Much Info is the climb of choice for all of the trails in the lower section of Iron Mountain, and one of the best climbing trails around. The switchbacks are fairly long, with a moderate number of level sections to regroup as you ride.

The climb up TMI provides some of Merritt’s best lookout points. The first is atop one of the steeper, short climbing sections that dot Too Much Info. One of the best things to do in Merritt is going for a picnic! This table is a great spot to hang out and enjoy the sunshine while enjoying the view of Swakum Mountain across the valley. It’s one of the best things to do in Merritt BC Canada!

Merritt bc canada things to do-lookout from Ridge TMI trail crossing

Pinkbike user “sidecut” shared this photo to Trailforks

Following that are three more lookouts that provide increasingly panoramic views of Swakum Mountain, the Coutlee Plateau, and the City of Merritt. The lookouts are all located at intersections of TMI and Ridge. Enjoy the sneak peeks of your downhill! Once you’ve completed the switchbacks of TMI, you’re getting close to the top! Three more switchbacks on Lone Pine trail will get you to the Ridge connector. 

High Mountain Ranchland Sunset

It’s always a tough decision for me: go for the gratification of the connector’s shorter climb, or to push up the rest of Lone Pine to the top of Upper Ridge? Both options are worth the effort, but Upper Ridge adds some pretty fun riding. This option also provides another nice rest spot in the open meadow at the tail end of Lone Pine.

The view is great from here! You’ll take in some of the trademark high mountain ranchland of the Nicola Valley. Looking Southwest, you’ll see the tree covered Iron Mountain. This spot is beautiful anytime, but the sunsets are spectacular. Every year at the summer solstice, the local club, Merritt Mountain Biking Association, leads a ride to this spot. It’s worth planning for! 

Things to do in Merritt BC Canada-Upper Ridge trail from Lone Pine trail

Pinkbike user “sidecut” posted this photo to Trailforks

Don’t Get Lost!

After scrambling up from the meadow, along the rocky Southeast switchback of Upper Ridge, you’re finally here! Unless you’re lost! The entrance to Upper Ridge can be missed, so make sure you watch for the left trail fork at the big, lone, pine. 

Okay, so the first thing you’ll likely notice is a sign. It’s a little menacing with its “experts only” warning, and it is warranted. However, it is still rated as a Black trail, so you be the judge of whether or not you consider yourself an “expert”.  Upper Ridge doesn’t waste any time! Right off you are rolling down fairly steep and jagged rocky sections, with some nice flowy singletrack mixed in. 

The Slab

This goes on for a while, with a few sections requiring a pedal here and there. Soon you’ll reach another foreboding sign. In my experience, this is the one to take the most notice of. Again, whether or not you have to be an expert to ride this section is at your discretion. You’ll soon meet an off camber rock slab, after crossing a short bridge/rocky section. This slab is intimidating and I have opted to take the ride around to the right on more than one occasion. It’s the “off camber” that makes it intimidating (not to mention the drop jump ramp at its base that appears to land in the middle of a stand of trees).

On a dry day with at least one of your friends to encourage you, the slab can be cleaned. Just watch this video from Dangerousdave to see how easy it is! He chose the ramp, which I can’t recommend, never having had the guts to attempt it. I take the slab and instead of sticking to the line leading to the ramp, there is a rollover to the right that, although a bit sketchy in its own right, has what seems to be more forgiving consequences in the event of rider failure.

Things to do in Merritt BC Canada- Ridge trail the slab off camber rock

Pinkbike user “Sidecut” shared this picture to Trailforks

Fun Things to do in Merritt BC Canada

Now it’s smooth sailing, well for the most part. You’ll get lots of the yummy flow that follows the slab/ramp in Dangerousdave’s video, plus a few more jagged rock rollovers, one of which ends with a near 90 degree turn after navigating a techy root. To see what’s in store of things to do in Merritt BC Canada, check out this video by Flarix17., for a look at all those rocks and curves, down to the finish at the former Info Centre parking lot.

Mountain biking things to do in Merritt BC Canada Ridge trail wooden feature

Pinkbike user “Canadaka” shared this picture to Trailforks

Mountain biking Ridge is one of my favorite things to do in Merritt BC Canada. There are many others that I think represent the diversity of terrain and riding style in the Merritt area. These trails were built by passionate mountain bikers who were so jazzed by the new sport of mountain biking in the 1990’s that it seems like they must have spent time doing nothing else! Some of them still live here and ride the trails, but many have moved on. 

Since moving to Merritt in 2013 and opening Breathe Bikes, I have met and ridden with a few of the trail builders that first carved out beauties like Ridge. I hope I’ve done at least a passable job of showing them how much I appreciate their work. If I haven’t and you’re reading this, please accept my many thanks! 

Things to do in Merritt BC Canada

Bikepacking Merritt – the Epic 1000

The BC Epic is a 1000km traverse across South Central BC

 I rode as fast as I thought I could, without injuring or killing myself…

Darch Oborne participated in the BC Epic 1000, and tells us about the bikepacking adventure. In his words…

The BC Epic 1000 is an offroad, unofficial, completely self-supported bikepacking ride/race in the spirit

bikepacking

The beginning in Merritt, BC

of the underground “Tour divide” style and under the same rules. No registration (other than on the website), no support, no insurance, no prizes – it is simply a plotted route with a suggested time for an unofficial group ride. Show up and ride at your own risk.

The BC Epic is a 1000km (1040 to be exact), 11,000m elevation traverse across South Central BC starting in Merrit and ending in Fernie (or vice versa if you choose) mostly along the Trans Canada Trail. The route is about 80% off road on mostly old decommissioned rail grades

The BC Epic 1000 bikepacking ride, since 2015

2018 was the third year of the bikepacking race, created by Dr. Lennard Pretorius of Kamloops. Jame Oborne and Lennard are also the first two riders to complete the Merritt 150 Epic on June 16, in eleven hours and forty-seven minutes. Lennard rode the first and second ‘1000’s’ and had a course record for a while. Virtually single-handedly, Lennard conceived and organized the Epic, seeing it grow from sixteen riders in 2016 to sixty-seven entrants in 2018. Quite an achievement! I predict there will be 100 racers in 2019.

I’d guess that of the sixty-seven riders entered, ten were extreme athletes, with three or four being extremely extreme, ie: 600 miles of off-road riding in less than three days, with less than six hours of sleep! Most of us “racers” chose to get at least some sleep (four to six hours in my case). nightly. Usually right at the side of the trail, after an evening meal at 9 PM, consisting of a couple of energy bars!

Many racers had lights and rode into the dark. My strategy was to ride as fast as I could without injury and to ride long, ie: from the crack of dawn at 4 AM to dark at 9 PM, to at least try to keep up with the middle of the pack.

The grades are less than three percent, but just relentless

The route is mostly old railway bed, including the KVR to Midway and Columbia Western to Castlegar. The grades are less than three percent, but just relentless, such as the climb out of Princeton to Summerland and Christina Lake to Castlegar–they just go on and on and on! But, through beautiful upland fields of flowers, several trestles, tunnels, raging rivers, beautiful forests, lovely meadows are all part of the Epic.

Many bikepacking racers stopped and took pictures of the beautiful features, often allowing me to catch up to them. Then there’s the torture of the Grey Creek Pass. Sixteen kilometers of ‘up’ on gravel, rutted road, at grades to sixteen percent–hike a bike for fifteen kilometers! No fun at all, after already being on the trail for four days.

It is self-supported, meaning you carry what you think you’ll need for each section ahead, including food and water. You can stop at towns or houses for provisions–root beers and double teenburgers–YUM! (I had some coupons from the mail).

I carried my small stove for a quick coffee

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Darch begins the Epic 1000

You carry what you think you’ll need to give you a good sleep, dry riding etc. I carried my small stove for a quick coffee/hot choc in the AM (I only used it twice), and I used a Kelty Thermarest pad, summer bag, and Tyvek covering, all wrapped up in my 1/2 body bag from Kiwanis Surplus store. The bikes of choice are Surly big boys, with 2.5″ to 2.8″ width tires.

I used my Transition Smuggler 29″ with gravel tires (2.5″ on the front and 2.3″ on the rear) until I broke the Hammerschmidt bottom bracket bolt about 3 miles N of Beaverdell at 6 AM on Day 3. Luckily, my son James was in Vernon and after a two-hour wait, he arrived with his Trek hardtail 29″.

Within another two hours, I was on the road, with most of my gear mounted on it. It proved to be a lively, but “hard-on-the-ass” steed and I was able to finish the race with it. Thanks, James–my option was to hitch to Kelowna and buy or rent a bike (sure, on Canada Day)!

There are no support stations, no route markings

I rode as fast as I thought I could, without injuring/killing myself, which was mostly fourteen to sixteen in the saddle daily, with four to six hours of “sleep” at the side of the trail. I figured that if I rode slow and steady, and long, I could maybe keep up with some of the pack. After day one, I only saw two riders for the next five days. We were all so spread out over the 600 miles. Most riders carried a SPOT GPS tracking device, so I checked my relative position a few times, but that’s disheartening when I was (only) halfway, in Grand Forks and Evan Deutsche had finished in Fernie!

There are no support stations, no route markings (other than Trans Cda Trail signs) and you rely on your GPS (my old Garmin did not function well at all—should have tested it more thoroughly). I carried a SPOT tracker with an SOS button for extreme emergency, but it enabled my family to track my slow progress towards the finish in Fernie. The SPOT ate batteries and I had to re-supply twice–not able to find AAA Lithium in Midway or Greenwood. Carry more spares!

And speaking of spares, you have to carry anything you think you’ll need to repair yourself and your bike, and for any weather, etc. As for a Hammerschmidt bottom bracket bolt (we’d just changed the bottom bracket days before the race–go figure)! I carried three tubes and used only one, but a few racers slashed their tires and went through several tubes.

I kept looking for Lance Armstrong’s care packages

bikepacking

You carry what you need

Of the 29 scratches (non-finishers) in the race, most were for human failings, ie: tendons/hamstrings/chafing etc. Mechanicals played their part, but most racers had put many, many miles on their steeds and knew what to expect of them. I did several ‘long’ rides on local gravel roads, ie: six to seven hours and did an overnight trip to Princeton and slept in the bush.

I should have “trained” harder, faster, and longer, but at seventy-three, there’s a limit to my strength and endurance, which I knew beforehand.  All through the race, I kept looking for Lance Armstrong’s care packages, but alas, I found none.

I passed so many lovely lakes and streams that I desperately wanted to dip in and just stop and enjoy, but I did not succumb until the last evening at Koocanusa lake. What a joy to swim and wash after five days of hard riding! On reflection, maybe except for the awful Grey Creek Pass, the route would be nice to do in, say, two weeks, in a group–still riding hard, but stopping to smell the roses…often.

Who wants to do it? The Epic 1000

Nope, not again, for me…unless? I’ll be pleased to assist other Nicola Valley rider who wants to do it and I’ll continue to help Lennard with organizing a BBQ, home hosting, etc. The BC Epic 1000 is a free event, totally volunteer, which turns my cranks for sure. Any riders wanting to try bike-packing, I’d be glad to loan equipment and accompany you if desired. Go to Bikepacking.com for the best info. The kindred spirit of the racers was super, although, as stated above, I rarely saw another racer after day one, until the finish.

My thanks to my family and friends who sent texts of encouragement along the way, those who helped

bikepacking

Darch’s upports- Travis Fehr of Breathe Bikes, Merritt. And wife Catherine

with the BBQ, home hosting, and to Mayor Menard who came out at 7 AM to start the race. Thanks to MMBA for renting the Park for the BBQ, which was appreciated by all the racers, as they got to meet each other–often for the first time.

Racers filled over fifty Merritt motel rooms the night before, and many will be back to enjoy the hospitality they experienced as well as the mountain biking on our great trails. A win for all.

Ride On!

Guest Blog post (and ride) by Darch Oborne

Executive Director of Merritt Mountain Bike Association

Thanks, Darch! Epic effort!

For more on Darch, and his contributions to our biking experiences in the Nicola Valley, click here.

And for those of you who would like to get on board this sport…

From the site Bikepacking: Simply put, bikepacking is the synthesis of mountain biking and minimalist camping. It evokes the freedom of multi-day backcountry hiking, but with the range and thrill of riding a mountain bike. It’s about exploring places less traveled, both near and far, via singletrack trails, gravel, and abandoned dirt roads, carrying only essential gear. Ride, eat, sleep, repeat, enjoy!

Paddleboard the Nicola Valley

“Paddleboarding connects me to nature in a profound way.”

Why is this guy blogging about SUP’s?

I’m a mountain biker, bike geek, and bike shop owner whose shop is named “Breathe Bikes“. You might wonder, so why is this guy blogging about the stand-up paddleboard (aka SUP)? Fair question, but there is a connection.

paddleboard
Let me start to make sense of that by pointing out the similarities. Both a bicycle and paddleboard are self-propelled. That’s a big one for me because bikes probably represent the most efficient form of human transportation. You’ll go farther, faster, while using less fuel, on a bicycle than any other mode of transport. While paddleboards require a body of water that is relatively calm and it can be hard to find one suitable for traveling long distances. Both are powered solely by personal effort, using instruments that have no energy source other than physical exertion.

Being there

Connecting to nature is accomplished very well by either a paddleboard or mountain bike. Coasting over a pristine lake on a paddleboard is a little different than twisting down a man-made ribbon of (super fun) single-track, but both require and encourage being in the moment to appreciate our surroundings, connect to them, and show them respect. 

paddleboard

The last similarity I will point out is the benefit to our health. Physical activity is known to be a disease fighter, a mental wellness enhancer, and a way to have fun, which is just good for the soul! Mountain biking is a great cardio workout and develops muscles all over the body. Although the legs and glutes are the primary benefactors, we do get some core and upper body strength from wrestling the bars through a tricky section of singletrack. Paddleboarding is great for the whole body, but the main muscle groups that are being activated during a paddle are your mid back muscles (latissimus dorsi), shoulders (deltoids), arms (triceps & biceps) and abs. Paddleboarding develops balance.  Flexibility is added to the benefits, if you combine a yoga pose or two also.

Now the dissimilarities. The paddleboard and mountain bike connect to a different experience. One is an adrenalin-fuelled, thrill charged playground, while the other is a serenity filled, tranquil oasis. Elements of both are available in either activity, but overall there is a distinct leaning to calm while paddleboarding, and thrill-seeking on a mountain bike.

What’s the Difference?

I really enjoy the contrast between the two sports–the spicy heat of mountain biking is tempered by the complex umami of paddleboarding. They both enable hyper-awareness of our surroundings and how we interact with them. But the difference in attitude and perspective has a way of heightening the experience of both of them. Maybe there’s a jewel of wisdom in there somewhere!? I wonder what the world would look like if we could all appreciate the opposite of what we are normally drawn to, once in a while? Maybe it could help open our eyes to an understanding of a different way of life.

The Nicola Valley is known as a place where you can enjoy “a lake a day, as long as you stay”. In my five years in Merritt, I’ve enjoyed a few of them, but I know I’ve only scratched the surface. Kentucky Lake has been my go-to for paddleboarding over the last year since I first stepped aboard a board, but I’ve also enjoyed the Lundbom Lakes. I plan to try out Nicola Lake, when my skills are more developed, as I understand the wind can be unforgiving and unannounced. Kentucky Lakes’s sister, Alleyne, is also on my list. 

Paddleboarding’s profound connection to nature

paddleboard

Paddleboarding connects me to nature in a profound way. I appreciate the quiet stillness of gently coasting over a glass-smooth lake, with the occasional sound of thousands of aspen leaves fluttering in a gust of wind.  And a view of a distant mountain range following me like Mona Lisa’s eyes, above the tall pines lining the shore, awakens a sense of connection that is unlike that of a mountain bike. The bike provides its own connection. I wouldn’t trade it for all the still waters in the world, but there is something about standing and moving on water and the feeling of “being there” that is beyond compare.

The shared connection

paddleboard

Bikes and paddle-boards are solitary conveyances. Skilled and strong paddleboarders are capable of carrying passengers and pulling other boards. And as I witnessed on my last paddle, chauffeuring sun-tanning friends on an air mattress! The shared experience is bound to create lasting memories among friends. And, no couple should miss floating next to their partner, gazing at the clouds while lying in a state of relaxed content!

There are many choices for adventures and experiences in the Nicola Valley, and my personal favorite is bike riding, but I invite you to give paddleboarding a try, on one of our many lakes for a “beyond compare” experience.

The Nicola Valley Paddleboard Company owned by Dorothy Jordan, offers a training program and adventure that strives to create a great place to learn. It offers an environment that is fun, challenging, and promotes teamwork and mutual respect.

At Breathe Bikes we offer rentals of paddleboards for full and half days, so contact us or come see us!

We’ll provide paddleboards, give you info, and send you off in the right direction!

Inspiring Nicola Valley Mountain Biker

Mountain biking may be perceived as a young man’s game. Before I came to Merritt and rode with Darch, I was beginning to consider myself an over-the-hill, once rode the “gnar” kind of guy.

Darch Oborne is an avid Nicola Valley mountain biker, bike-packer, racer, trail builder, ride clinic teacher, and tireless supporter and promoter of all things mountain bike. All this inspiration is 73 years young!

“I rode my 3 speed Raleigh as a kid in Calgary. Then had an old Peugeot 10 speed at the U of Oregon, but it wasn’t until 1999 that I considered mountain biking.”

“…muddy, and bleeding, and laughing!”

At 48 there are times when I remember my twenty-something stamina with sad remorse. Still, I get out there and ride, enjoy it when I do, and look forward to next time. All that pales in comparison to Darch. He rides daily, at virtually all levels of mountain biking, he is comfortable and eager to take on the challenge. His first experience on a mountain bike was a result of friendly encouragement.

“My son James would go ridin’ with my doctor Andries Smit, and my pal Robert Hack and they’d come back muddy, and bleeding, and laughing! I thought only the worst of the sport at that point. Then, as a result of persistence from them all, I said ‘sure, saddle me up a good one and let’s go’. They took me to JP Cool. I walked down 90% of it, but the 10% I rode was enough to bite me! And I’ve been ridin’ and trail building ever since.”

Darch inspires enthusiasm in everyone he rides with.

Nicola Valley Mountain Biker

On our ride today, a two-year-old in his dad’s ride-along high fived and smiled from ear to ear when Darch asked: “Did you have fun?”. He was the first rider to take me out on the trails of Merritt when I moved here to open Breathe Bikes in 2013. My mountain bike experience was pretty out of date at that time, having aged from the days of riding Banff in the 90’s. I was out of shape and lacking in confidence–the result of years of pavement riding (at least that’s my excuse!).

“I’ve ridden some great trails in Sedona, Moab, Whistler, Phoenix etc, and got into bike-packing (just back-packing on a bike really) 2 years ago when I rode the Maah da Hey trail in the badlands of North Dakota for 4 days, self-supported.”

1000 km of Offroad Trail

Darch coaxed, educated, and (gently) prodded me back into riding trails with confidence again. That inspiration elevated my riding skills, and they have never been better. Still, Darch is the leader up the steep climbs and his endurance is far beyond mine. He often rides two or more, two or three-hour rides in a day. He keeps it up year round, enjoying (and working on) the trails in Apache Junction, AZ in the winter months, and Merritt’s in the spring and summer. This year, Darch is tackling the challenge of the BC Epic 1000, a 1000+km trail on 80% offroad trail, starting in Merritt, ending in Fernie.

Nicola Valley Mountain Biker and Trail Builder…

No one would judge Darch if he chose to simply ride the trails, but his inspiration includes trail building, too.

“Trail building is a great way for me to do some payback to the builders who have put in some great hiking and biking trails before me. I’ve been accredited by the US Forest Service as a Trail Builder and have built ‘legal’ trails in Tonto Nat. Forest and the Lost Dutchman State Park in AZ.–as well as lots of ‘informal’ trails in AZ and BC.

As a member of MMBA (Merritt’s mountain biking club), I have built some sanctioned trails like SUPRA SCENIC from scratch, and have also built some ‘informal’ trails like Dangle that have not yet been adopted. I have ‘adopted’ the trails on Swaakum, and all the trails above the Bench, like Scenic, Upper Scenic etc, to maintain them in good hiking/riding condition.

But I sure like to have folks call me when they see a tree down or a big rock that they can’t move from the trail. Currently, a few of us local enthusiasts are trying to make a Rails to Trail project along the old KVR from Merritt to Spences Bridge. That will provide wonderful recreation and a beneficial economic stimulus to the whole corridor. I hope you’ll support it.”

“If you want to go out and ride any trail, any time just let me know.”

Darch envisioned and brought to life an epic trail that connects the four riding areas surrounding the city of Merritt. A day’s ride in one of these areas is enough for an average Nicola Valley mountain biker, so combining all four into a single ride is accessible to only a small portion of the riding population. So why do it? Because it can be done! This route covers a dizzying array of singletrack, terrain, landscape, and astonishing natural beauty. It appeals to a small segment of the population because only the truly epic rider can tackle this epic trail. 

“My Canada 150 project was to link our four main riding/hiking areas so that they could be an ‘Epic’ trail for those who want to go big. It’s a 120 km, 4000 m course that will be an extreme effort to ride in one day. And maybe we’ll make it into an Epic Race to bring riders of top caliber from all over to race it, one day. The City and the NV Tourism Association were very helpful in supporting me do it. The first ‘race’ to see if it can be done in 14 hours is on June 16, so we’ll soon know. James Oborne and Dr. Lennard Pretorius, of Kamloops, are going to try it.

If you want to go out and ride any trail, any time just let me know. I try to ride every day, and welcome others to join me.”

“Mountain-biking is a lifelong sport for me”

bikepacking

Darch begins the Epic 1000

Mountain biking may be perceived as a young man’s game. Before I came to Merritt and rode with Darch, I was beginning to consider myself an over-the-hill, once rode the “gnar” kind of guy.

“Mountain-biking is a lifelong sport for me. It dovetails nicely with my distance running to keep me in pretty good physical shape. It is easy on the joints and allows one to travel trails that hiking can’t easily reach. And, with trails for beginners to expert, our Nicola Valley is a prime riding area in BC.”

Darch’s inspiration made me realize that age is just a number, and I can’t thank him enough for that! I hope one day I can provide inspiration for a middle-aged used to ride.

I’d better start riding more!