The Renshaw Ride Guide – McBride, BC
Colin Wallace | On 16, Jul 2018
The Renshaw is McBride’s flagship area, boasting the largest managed riding area in BC. Renshaw offers riding for everyone from 7 to 77, with a good mix of low-angle and super-steep alpine terrain.
If exploring every corner of Renshaw is on your agenda, then plan on being in town for a few days. Even in good weather and with easy travel conditions, one day will not be nearly enough time to see all of what Renshaw has to offer. You could spend a lifetime discovering all of The Renshaw’s secrets.
Although McBride is a little farther to get to than some other popular destinations, the extra effort is worth it. The local Big Country Snowmobile Association is very active and committed to providing excellent grooming, well-maintained facilities and a top-notch riding experience.
Words and Photos by Colin Wallace
Mostly alpine bowls, with some trees down low
11km paved from McBride
6km gravel FSR
30km groomed trail
Largest managed snowmobile area in BC
Newly renovated warm-up cabin
Good mix of low-angle and steep alpine terrain
Fewer riding options on low-visibility days
The Renshaw Ride Guide – McBride, BC
To the Trailhead
On Hwy 16 in McBride, head east for 1km. Turn left onto Mountain View Road, which parallels the valley on the east side of the Fraser River for 16km. The way there is straightforward, but watch out for the occasional pothole! At the end of the road, you’ll find a mammoth double parking lot, which can accommodate your monster truck and multi-place trailer without issue. Staging doesn’t get any easier than this! Grab your day pass and a trail map from the booth attendant before heading up the trail.
To the Zone
The immaculately groomed trail follows a valley with slide paths that run down to the road in various places. Be aware of the avalanche conditions before proceeding! It’s a long way into the zone, but breathtaking vistas and double-wide grooming make the ride enjoyable.
The trail is straightforward with no intersections until 23km and 27km, both of which can be used to gain access to a flat valley bottom called The Meadows. From there you can climb up to Blackwater Meadows, deeper in the zone. Or, continue straight for another 2.5km (from the 27km turnoff) to arrive at the cabin and the start of the main Renshaw riding area.
Having a map and good navigational skills or riding with someone who knows the area is a must on grey, low-visibility days at The Renshaw. There are fingers of trees that can be used as handrails to help with travel here and there, but most of the riding is in the open alpine. The best time to go is on a bluebird day with good stability.
Although expert riding ability isn’t strictly required to get around at Renshaw, there are still many places in which even skilled riders can get themselves into trouble. For the most part however, a good portion of Renshaw’s terrain can be reasonably accessed with intermediate ability on a modern sled.
Heading northwest from the cabin through Cabin Flats towards Mount Renshaw requires a sustained but manageable sidehill. The route offers a couple of different ways to access Backside Meadows. The first is to climb up and over The Ladder, which, at 2100m, is the first pass on the right. The second way is to drop down 100m below Renshaw Peak and start the climb up to Saddle Bowl and over The Saddle, which tops out at a similar elevation.
Dropping left into Blackwater Meadows past The Saddle offers riders of various ability levels plenty of terrain choices from tree riding to high alpine climbs. For the more adventurous rider, heading over the pass to the northwest offers a steep descent into Weinberg’s Bowl—a north-facing area below Methodist Peak. Weinberg’s Bowl has snow that tends to stay light, dry and preserved during long, sunny spells.
North of the Saddle
Heading in a northerly direction from The Saddle sets the rider up for an easy alpine climb to an unnamed ridge below a sub-peak called Renshaw NW4. Stop to pull out a camera, because the views from this ridge are spectacular.
Continue beyond the ridge, then drop in a northeast direction down the only obvious saddle. At the bottom is a lake flanked by north-facing slopes that feature well-preserved snow, sheltered from the wind and the sun.
Following the drainage to the northwest will funnel the rider down a sometimes-icy slope to Spirit Lake. The north-facing trees around the lake offer some of the best tree riding in the entire area. There are steep, densely-treed technical sidehills for the advanced rider and mellow-spaced trees for the beginner and everyone in-between. These are the goods when the alpine is tracked out.
Showoff Hill and Upper Meadows
Back at the cabin, Showoff Hill (or Idiot Hill depending on who you ask) is visible just 500m to the southwest. It’s a small but steep slope that tempts hillclimbers with the desire to showcase their machines to a captive audience at the cabin. A little farther past Showoff Hill to the southeast is a small area called Upper Meadows. It consists of a little alpine bowl with a couple of tiny lakes, below Sleeper Peak.
A great overview of the area can be had from Pullman Peak, just about 1.5km due east of the cabin, which can be accessed via a mellow ridgeline. Directly below Pullman Peak to the northeast is Wolverine Meadows, which offers more easy alpine riding.
To the north of Renshaw Bowl, riders can also use the Drop Of Doom to access the Backside Meadows; the Drop Of Doom is not as bad as it sounds and can sometimes be an easier route on the way back to the cabin than The Ladder or The Saddle.