Where once there was The Kootenay Gravel Grinder now there is THE LOST ELEPHANT. Welcome aboard.

The East Kootenay is a bike packing paradise.  With few people and a metric tonne of remote backcountry wilderness generously sprinkled with resource roads. Throw in the grandeur of the “Kootenay Rockies,” add a lot of bears and mix in some gnarly ORV trails to link the major drainages together, and you have all the ingredients necessary for some memorable escapades by bicycle.

 
2018 will be the 4th instalment of what we have previously called the Kootenay Gravel Grinder.  For the first two years, the KGG route was almost entirely contained in the Rocky Mountains.  It went from Cranbrook into the Wildhorse, Nichol, Blackfoot, Quinn, Sulphur and Hartley valleys before emerging in Fernie, about 200km and three high mountain passes later.  The route then picked up the Tour Divide route before spitting you back out into the lowlands near the USA border crossing.  The ride north back to Cranbrook was then mostly a matter of bearing down and surviving the heat of the valley on some unremarkable roads.
New route options started getting tossed around. We wanted to showcase more of the region and add some diversity to the cycling.  The East Kootenay is, after all, comprised of two great mountain ranges: the Rockies to the east and the Purcell range of the Columbia Mountains to the west.  Between the two is the Rocky Mountain Trench and the headwaters of one of North America's most important rivers:  the mighty Columbia. Not only does this new route showcase it all, but it does so by way of a tremendous variety of cycling terrain.  And ya, its harder too - more of a bicycling adventure than a true gravel grinder.
Our original intention wasn't to make it harder, but we did.
The grand depart is again in Cranbrook, but now the route travels to the west on the North Star Rail Trail, a beautiful, paved 28km bicycle path linking Cranbrook with the City of Kimberley. From there, it's time to turn north and head into the foothills of the Purcell mountains, the beginning of the gravel, and the start of the real adventure.  
The Purcells are going to kick your ass.  It is as simple as that, and we feel completely comfortable with the bravado that statement implies. If your jaw isn't dropping because you are out of breath and feeling completely beaten while dragging your bicycle up Brewer Creek, then it surely will as you top out, soak up your surroundings and contemplate the 1000m singletrack descent that spills into the bike park at Panorama.  If you are like me, then it is at this point that you limp into the T-Bar and Grill, order a beer, and seriously question the punishment you have signed up for.  By the time you hit the 24hr Tim Horton's outside of Invermere I guarantee that you will have a new appreciation for backcountry cycling in the Purcells.
A short diversion on the paved rural roads through the Windermere valley and a quick rip on the amazing singletrack of The Spirit Trail will finally deliver you to the Rocky Mountains. The trip south through the Rockies back to Cranbrook offers several hilly and circuitous detours culminating in the crossing of Wildhorse Pass.  Along the way you will be able to avail yourself of the services in Fairmont Hot Springs, Fort Steele, and Bull River.  The 17km of "enhanced singletrack on the new Chief Isadore Trail is the most recent addition to the East Kootenay's bike packing playbook and a real treat, enabling you to savour the last few kilometres of pedalling before arriving back in Cranbrook.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Lost Elephant.



Lost Elephant Jumbo Edition

length 507km
total ascent 10311m
high point 2457m
% unpaved 84%
% singletrack 9%
% rideable (time) 90%
days 3-7
difficulty (1-10) 9


Lost Elephant Dumbo Edition

length 287km
total ascent 4010m
high point 1941m
% unpaved 82%
% singletrack 6%
% rideable (time) 98%
days 1-3
difficulty (1-10) 5




These fine organizations believe in us:

LostElephant_sponsor_HotShotspng      LostElephant_sponsor_HighCountrypng      LostElephant_sponsor_BREEZEpng   LostElephant_sponsor_slumberfightpng