The Merritt loop is a great day ride from Vancouver. Here are 6 great
1) Manning Park ride including playing in the Lightning Lakes area and
return. If Manning Park is the destination be sure to zip up Blackwell Mtn to
the Cascade Lookout. The turnoff is near the park HQ and basically opposite
(north) the Lightning Lakes turnoff. This is a great 7km run up the mountain on
narrow switchback roads ending in an unparalleled view of the valley.If you can
stand gravel (usually in good shape) another 6 kms or so will take you to the
microwave station at the summit of Blackwell Mtn. This is another panoramic view
(you can easily see the Coquihalla, Whipsaw and Cascade ranges) with plenty of
alpine trails for hiking. After that head over to the Lightning Lakes for a few
more kms of decent biking roads while considering the popular picnic, camping
and hiking opportunities existing there.
2) Playing in the Princeton area and returning to Hope. Take time to explore
the Hope area specifically the Kawkawa Lake Road (behind Hope - turn off from
the old Hope-Princeton highway) until it dead ends (about 10km or so). This road
also take you near the Othello Tunnels which are worth the walk at least once in
3) Loitering in the Princeton area and then continuing on with the loop
(producing a night ride through the Fraser Canyon). Princeton to Tulameen and
Otter Lake (going as far as the pavement allows) is a must see. This is much
like the Pemberton to D'Arcy run. Excellent biking road with sparse
traffic.Unfortunately it dead-ends and requires a retreat back to Princeton
unless you are prepared to hoof it on gravel to connect with 5A heading to
Merrit. A similar Princeton off-shoot heads to Bankeir (Chain, Link and Osprey
Lakes). Not as good as the Tulameen run in terms of twisties or pavement but
longer and fun nonetheless.Just watch the pavement after Chain Lake, the
potholes will eat your bike for dinner. Unfortunately the potholes are only a
precursor to the gravel which starts at the end of Osprey Lake so don't dream
about reaching Summerland unless you have a dual-purpose bike (or have your
false teeth firmly glued in...) Playing in Princeton opens the possibility of a
run to Hedley on the north side of the Similkameen River. This section has good
pavement, little traffic and plenty of curves. A loop back to Princeton on the
main highway passes Bromley Rock Provincial Campsite. Nothing beats floating
lazily down the river on a hot summers day especially if you're organized enough
to have brought picnic goodies. Night riders can hang out in Princeton and then
continue the loop hitting the Fraser Canyon at night. I find the canyon more
interesting at night so recommend this option for an occasional change of pace.
Just be prepared to dodge wildlife out for their evening stroll on the tarmac...
4) Blasting through Princeton on a pell-mell dash around the loop.
5) An slightly shorter version through the Fraser Canyon, over to Merrit on
the excellent #8 from Spences Bridge, down to Kingsvale on the superb Coldwater
Road and finally back to Hope via the magnificent Coquihalla. This is one of my
favourite spur of the moment hardcore biking rides. During the long days of
summer it's easy to leave around noon and still be back before dark. And for
those warm summer evenings when night riding is fun, I'll leave mid-afternoon in
order to hit the Fraser Canyon at night (going counter clockwise obviously).
6) Similar to option #5 but through Manning Park and back from Merrit via the
Coldwater Rd and the Coquihalla Highway. Unfortunately there are long four lane
straight stretches in Manning Park.
All options are great fun so be sure to try them all (not on the same trip
though!!). The Hope-Princeton, 5A from Princeton to Merrit, #8 from Merrit to
Spences Bridge and the Fraser Canyon are four distinct and terrific highlights
of the loop.