The Bike mag staff  played hooky from Crankworx on Monday, swapping park laps for a day exploring the alpine on the new Into The Mystic to Lord Of The Squirrels route.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) and Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA) worked together starting in 2014 to build the alpine trail network on Mount Sproatt. Three years later, the two main trails, Into The Mystic—built by RMOW—and Lord of the Squirrels—built by WORCA—comprise a stunning ride, starting with an expertly crafted, machine-built climbing trail, followed by a rugged natural descent, with roots, bridges and fast singletrack through the dark forest. The two trails, with a short connector coined On The Rocks, cover just under 3,800 vertical feet of gain over 12 miles. Ride from town, like we did, and that number gets bumped up closer to 5,000 feet and 25 miles. Neither easy nor fast, the climb transports you through old-growth forests, postcard-perfect lookouts of Whistler’s famous Tusk and alpine vistas dotted with crystal-clear lakes. One such lake marks the start of the descent, leading you through swooping turns, steep rock slabs and features that foster creativity. At the risk of sounding cliché, the Sproatt Alpine loop is an instant classic. It is a heli-drop run, without the heli. WORCA and Whistler Resort will hold a celebration of the new loop on Friday at 7 p.m. at Olympic Plaza. Until then, enjoy this eye candy from Bike’s director of photography Anthony Smith:

Travis Engel (right) just realized we’re not even halfway up the 2,500-foot climb up Into the Mystic.

Bike’s new online editor, Amos Horn, survived his hazing of a seven-hour, 30-mile ride high above the Whistler Valley.

Trailside Refreshments

The mighty Tusk set against a foreboding backdrop.

Nicole Formosa practices her stem staring on a rock-slab climb.

Beauty never takes a backseat once you emerge from the forest on Into the Mystic.

Refueling before the final stretch of climbing.

Adam Watkins and Ryan Farner have an alpine swim on the mind as they round a bend nearing the top of On The Rocks.

Almost there.

Ryan Palmer pushes toward the summit.

Engel enjoying a long, cold drink in the sink.

Nature’s ice bath.

Formosa and Palmer try to forget about the previous four hours of climbing.

Male model or gear editor?

Post-bath, pre-descent.

A moody afternoon 4,500 feet above the Whistler Valley floor.

Who wouldn’t want to be riding right here, right now?

WORCA opened Lord of the Squirrels earlier this year.

Palmer hunting squirrels.

Engel and Watkins rocking Industrial Disease.