Northern Nucleus

Mitch Roy and Rob Hesse descend the Maroon Mountain trail north of Terrace, British Columbia. This stout out-and-back adventure provides access to some of the region’s most pristine subalpine terrain above Kitsumkalum Lake.

Northern Nucleus A Master Plan Materializes in Terrace

With remoteness comes responsibility and the residents of Terrace, British Columbia have no shortage of both. Though the small city is only about halfway up this sprawling province, it’s considered to be “northern B.C.” by virtue of the fact that it’s nearly a 17-hour drive from Vancouver—roughly the same distance between Vancouver and San Francisco. But no matter how “north” is defined, Terrace is a long way from anywhere, and this remoteness breeds a self-reliance and sense of shared responsibility that permeates every aspect of this tight-knit community.

At first glance, the town of 12,000 people bears a strong resemblance to Squamish, B.C. in the early 2000s, set in a pristine river valley with budding climbing, paddling and mountain biking scenes. The gritty downtown core is bursting with color from giant murals painted by local First Nations artists, and strangers still smile and say hello on the street. With scarce social amenities, the great outdoors is the living room of the locals, and that’s just how they like it.

When it comes to mountain biking, Terrace was a late adopter of the sport, especially compared to more established northern locales such as Prince George, Burns Lake and Smithers. While most of these communities are nestled on the Chilcotin Plateau, where the terrain is more closely linked with the drier regions of the province’s interior, Terrace is an anomaly perched squarely in the crosshairs of the Coast Mountains. Here, four-inch rainstorms are common, nourishing a labyrinth of root beds woven over grippy granite slabs and perfect golden dirt. The steep, heavily wooded valleys are dominated by western hemlock and red cedar, dictating a decidedly technical style of riding.

 

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