North of Barrie, Horseshoe Valley Resort has a downhill bike park that’s introduced many a rider to the thrill of gravity runs. Though short in height and smaller than most North American DH parks, it has a good following and delivers plenty of thrills for all.
As Blue Mountain’s baby brother, it’s a good fit for those interested in trying this style of mountain biking. Cheaper and closer to Toronto, it is a great training ground for riders who aspire to take on more epic jumps, longer bombs and steeper slopes eventually.
The high-speed six-person lift takes riders to the top of this ski hill in no time and eleven runs offer a little something for every skill level. With only 80 metres of vertical, you know going down will be over in a few minutes—just do more. Trails have no names, just numbers (this seems rather dull compared to all the creative trail naming I’ve seen).
Since trails are designed to introduce mountain bike riders to downhill runs, you can try things out using your current MTB, if it’s decent and well built. Certainly, any MTB rider with a few years in the saddle should not have a problem doing the Beginner and Intermediate #1, 3, 8, 9 and 10 trails. These runs coming down through the woods are full of berms and small jumps, ideal to practice on and build up your courage.
Moving on to the steeper black-diamond territory, trails #2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 include more serious jumps on your way down and it might be wise to beef up your gear for these more extreme exploits. Bike rentals can be booked, or a mechanic is available if you’ve been too hard on your own iron horse.
If you plan to open it up, a full helmet, DH bike and pads are in order so you can enjoy the speed, take the pounding and maybe spare yourself some knocks.
Horseshoe’s staff trail builders have listened to their riders and have made changes for the better every year. Routes have been altered and tweaked with more runs, which equals more mileage, too. No longer do trails # 4, 5, 6, 7 converge into one path halfway down to spit you out at the bottom. Each of these favourite runs now has its own separate line.
Staff water down the dry tracks to keep the dust at bay, as this soil has lots of sand in it. Keep in mind that too much speed on the berms could result in you washing out.
While you’re here, you can take on a little XC riding in the woods on the east side, where you’ll find two old Canada Cup race loops to give your legs a workout. It’s an Intermediate MTB ride with a mix of hills, roots and gnarly bits to add variety to your day. Canada Cup 1 trail is about 2.2 km and Canada Cup 2 trail climbs the big hill and heads down it too at close to 3 km.
But most riders are here for the speed and rush of the vertical runs. If it’s been a few years since you’ve been here, things have changed and improved. Come check it out again!
For more vertical pursuits nearby, head to Copeland Forest, just moments away and across the road, or Three Stage by Collingwood. The riding is free on these trails, but you’ll have to earn your downhill, as there are no lifts.
Horseshoe Resort is a full-service vacation playground. You can extend your stay for eats or a sleepover, or take in many other sporty summer activities while you’re here: there’s a water slide, wake park, golf, ziplining, treetop treks…
In the winter, Fatbike riders gather at the Nordic ski centre across the road, to commence their frosty adventures.