Founded as a bike rack brand in beautiful British Columbia, Swagman has always been passionate about not just creating the best way to transport bikes, but also about the rides themselves. Nestled in Penticton, BC, we’re fortunate to call one of the greatest biking destinations our backyard.
And what good are our local mountain bike trails if we can’t share them with the world? That’s why we partnered up with Visit Penticton and some of our favourite local breweries to put together this series: Swagman’s Backyard Ride Guide.
We’ll be showcasing the different riding zones on offer, giving you an insider’s guide on some of the best local lines, epic climbs, and scenic routes. Each Backyard Ride Guide piece will dive into a specific riding zone, sharing a little of what to expect, suggesting some routes, sharing our favourite trails, and of course, pairing up with a local brewery for the best spot to enjoy an apres pint.
So join us for Swagman’s Backyard Ride Guide, where every ride promises an adventure, and every adventure ends with a brew.
Words & Photos: Evan Wishloff
Where our inaugural Backyard Ride Guide took us on a whirlwind tour of Campbell Mountain’s fun and accessible trails, we’re now shifting gears towards a more ambitious ride – Wiltse. This destination is a definite step up, showcasing the gnarliest terrain Penticton has to offer.
Here, the climbs demand more from you; they’re steep, they’re challenging, they test your mettle. But at the summit, the panorama unfolds: a reward for your tenacity. You’ll feast on 360-degree views, encompassing the entirety of Penticton, neatly tucked between the serene expanses of Skaha Lake and Okanagan Lake.
Fun Fact: Penticton is one of the rare gems worldwide nestled directly between two lakes. Only one other city can claim the same. Any guesses as to where it is?
Wiltse is a testament to mountain biking’s thrilling complexity, flaunting some of the most technically demanding terrains you’ll find in the region, including a trail that most agree is the most challenging in Penticton. Don’t fret if you’re looking for an easier ride, we’ve made sure to include less daunting descent options for those who wish to enjoy the scenic vistas without the adrenaline rush.
Prepare to navigate a rugged landscape peppered with rock rolls, slabs, and jagged stones. This is Wiltse: rewarding, exhilarating, demanding, and absolutely unforgettable.
Swagman’s Recommended Ride – Campbell:
Distance: 15 km Vertical Ascent: 457 m
Customize your ride! If you’re looking to make the ride easier, pay attention to the optional green text below. If you’re looking to make your ride more challenging, pay attention to the optional red text.
Park your car just off Wiltse Drive at the Top of Wiltse Parking, or make your ride Fuel Free, and pedal from town. Sure, it will make the vertical ascent more formidable, but it also makes for a great warmup for the singletrack climbing to come.
Embarking on your journey, a mix of double-track and short singletrack warm-up trails await before the real show stopper: G-Spot.
As your legs protest, spectacular views of Penticton, bordered by Skaha Lake and Okanagan Lake, will unfold before your eyes, making every challenging pedal stroke all the more worth it.
It may be a bit of a misnomer, but if you’re looking for an easier way up, keep your eye out for the rocks painted with an ‘EU’ – it stands for ‘easy up’ and offers a brief, less steep switchback as an alternative to the main trail at various points throughout.
Once you’ve reached the summit, treat yourself to a moment of tranquility. The top of G-Spot rivals anywhere in the valley for best views from a mountain bike trail!
After a moment of peace, get yourself hyped up, because our Ride Guide is tackling some of the most demanding trails in the region next!
Our Backyard Ride Guide route is almost entirely black and double-black diamond trails from this point on, but fret not: We’ve got three less challenging options for you:
1 – Head back down from the viewpoint to No Stitches, which is a blue trail (although it still skews more advanced). You’ll get a similar, toned-down experience to our Ride Guide, complete with epic views and some challenging rocky terrain.
2 – Take a short hike-a-bike down Devil’s Throat, a black-diamond trail that is under 200 metres in length, and then hit the Frontside Descent, a sandy, wide downhill trail that brings you near the entrance to G-Spot. 3 – The newly built, and as of publishing not found on Trailforks, Muy Cojo, was built to offer up true intermediate descent from the top. It is less rocky and less technical than No Stitches, and is one of the easiest, yet still enjoyable rides, back down from the top.
If you’re an adrenaline junkie craving a double-black challenge, skip our easier recommendations above and make your way back down from the viewpoint to Silver Buck, a nice warm-up to the main event.
A gauntlet of rock rolls and precarious chutes awaits on Six Stitches, the most memorable trail on Wiltse. This trail demands your full attention as you navigate rock rolls and precarious chutes.
After riding the first third, the trail will intersect and cross over Frontside Descent, which is a great spot for a break if you’ve already got arm pump from gripping your brakes a little too tightly…
We won’t say this optional route makes the ride harder per say, but if you are looking for something a little longer, keep reading. If you’re happy with the route as is, skip this red text where our trail description continues below. To add some distance and old-school XC to the mix, take a left and climb up what remains of Frontside Descent. From there, you can ride the rocky, black-diamond pedal-centric trails of Egg Rock & Climax.
Your payoff will be some more amazing views, but don’t take your eyes off the trail for too long! Eventually, you’ll end up on a trail called Canoe Route, taking you past a popular local crag for climbing, before exiting onto double-track that will take you back to the very beginning.
The thrill ride continues down Six Stiches, and after some g-outs and choppy hits, we’ll smooth things out to end our ride on a high note. A quick connection up to Duodenum means you’ll end your ride with some swoopy, sandy singletrack!
A short pedal back through sleepy residential roads will get you to the parking lot. Time for a high five!
What’s the perfect way to end a thrilling day on the Wiltse trails? Sharing a toast at Neighbourhood Brewing! Nestled just blocks from tranquil Okanagan Lake, it’s your destination for post-ride camaraderie.
Beer at Neighbourhood Brewing isn’t just crafted—it’s created with a community spirit that echoes their motto: “Beer made by friends, for friends.” Stepping into their welcoming space, you’re immediately part of the family. The patio, a local gem, offers a refreshing haven on hot South Okanagan days, the perfect spot to relive the day’s adventure.
Yet, Neighbourhood is about more than just beer. Their menu, a fusion of new-age Mexican cuisine, pairs flawlessly with an array of rotating taps, delighting both beer enthusiasts and food-lovers alike.
With a vast selection of craft brews, from hoppy IPAs to fruity sours, there’s a pour for every palate, each one a testament to Neighbourhood Brewing’s dedication to their craft.
As the sun dips and the Okanagan sky illuminates with color, you’ll savor your evening at Neighbourhood Brewing. More than a brewery, it’s a hub of friendship and indulgence, an ideal close to an adrenaline-filled day at Wiltse. Here’s to high fives and high notes!
Have you ridden our recommended ride? Let us know in the comments!
Stay tuned for more of Swagman’s Backyard Ride Guide, where we continue to explore the best that our local trails and breweries have to offer. For more information on mountain biking trails, craft breweries, and to plan your vacation to Penticton be sure to check out the rest of the www.visitpenticton.com website.
Help Maintain the Trails
The trails we ride and recreate on in Penticton are developed and maintained by community members, dedicated volunteers, and passionate bikers. It takes thousands of hours and incredible effort to keep trails open and safe for all bikers. When visiting or riding in a BC community, consider donating to the local trail club – through Trail Karma or directly to the club – and support those who work tirelessly to maintain the trails. Learn more and donate to the Penticton and Area Cycling Association (PACA) here.