The Trail: Powerslave, when connected with other local trails, is roughly 9 miles long and descends more than 5,500 feet from the top of Toad Mountain to the city of Nelson, British Columbia. The trail, named after the classic Iron Maiden song, was cut by renowned trail builder Riley McIntosh. It represents his first attempt to design a long trail—top to bottom of a mountain—and is nothing short of amazing. In fact, it’s fair to say that few trails rival McIntosh’s opus of wood and dirt, tucked in the forests above Nelson. It’s a rowdy slice of burl that’s quickly becoming Nelson’s signature new-school rip.
The Town: Nelson has a longstanding reputation as a ski destination, but its mountain bike DNA is just as rich. The town is home to riders such as Robbie Bourdon, Kurt Sorge and the guys at Freeride Entertainment (think New World Disorder films). Take a healthy dose of big mountains and steep terrain, mix in a dedicated core of riders and builders, and you have the elements to make Nelson the next great big-mountain trail-riding destination.
The Catch: Like all trails built on Canada’s public lands, Powerslave exists without a “legal” status, despite being on trail maps. McIntosh is applying for a commercial operations tenure license for Crown Land trails, which will legitimize it and pave the way for sanctioned trail building.
The Experience: Just getting there without a helicopter can bring you to your knees. No matter what section you aim to ride, a serious push of over an hour awaits—and that’s after driving up logging roads as far as you can. After catching your breath, the view will take it away again—stunning panoramic vistas are available from multiple mountaintop crossings along the trail. Although McIntosh classifies this as an intermediate trail, that’s a sliding scale in Nelson. Expect serious challenges, including brake-searing steeps and gorgeous, yet freaky, wooden structures. McIntosh, after all, is the creative genius behind many of the stunts in recent New World Disorder movies.
This content was originally published in Bike’s November 2009 issue.