All this dreary winter weather has me reliving the fantastic summer of 2016. It has us planning upcoming adventures for this year.
While I spend my days mainly on the roads, my family spends their days on trails. When the boys were small that meant I was running alongside as they dabbled on trails in our neighbourhood parks and later running behind as they explored trails in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve and most recently (since I don’t really like running) that has meant taking advantage of some of our great local terrain and bike camps.
I have never given Silver Star much thought until we attended the extremely soggy MEC Bikefest in the spring. With torrential rain (I mean bucketing, soak your clothes in seconds rain) we were four of about 10 guests at Inter-River Park. The boys suited up in their regular rain gear and rode the obstacles set up by Escape Adventures and the mini-course hosted by iRide and we hit the booths.
The standout of the event was Silver Star. This resort has never been on my radar – why would it? We live on the north shore with Grouse, Cypress and Mt. Seymour moments away and have access to a family cabin at Whistler. However, as we all stood there dripping in the rain the Silver Star rep peppered our conversation with all the family friendly adventures they offer. I 100 per cent credit her enthusiasm with our arrival in late August.
My first impressions of Silver Star were a bit shocking. It was tiny. I soon realized not in “wow this isn’t what I thought it was” way but in a “this is like our own private summer camp” way. My baseline for summer and winter resorts is Whistler.
It is all I have known. Despite my research and prep work I was still floored by Silver Star’s two block “main street” and it took me about 15 minutes to fall in love.
From the stunning views and hot sun to the friendly staff and kid-safe environment. What a treat to have the kids (five and six years old) throw open the condo door and run out to the playground – bare foot. Silver Star has taken a lot of care to target families.
I love that a resort has encouraged and embraced a free activity for families. For those unfamiliar, geocaching is sort of like a GPS treasure hunt. Many parks and resorts actively remove geocaches for “liability and safety” reasons – what those are? I have no idea. We spent a couple of hours exploring, geocaching and frog catching. Some of the caches have even been hidden to be accessible in winter when the resort has been topped with snow – a really thoughtful touch.
Without a doubt the boys favourite activity (besides mountain biking) was the Gnome Roam. Silver Star has created a gnome scavenger hunt. Simply pick up clue sheet at Guest Services and head out on trail to find these sneaky little guys. My goodness did the boys like this. It was a highlight – so much so that on our last day as we packed up the car they hopped on their bikes armed with the map and their cameras to snap pictures of each of the gnomes.
It was mountain biking that had lured us to Silver Star. Its promise of vast affordable (only $8!?!?!) crosscountry we thought would be an excellent gateway to this style of riding. On this trip we had to make some choices, we didn’t know exactly where we would be going and for how long. We chose to my bring my road bike, LBB’s BMX and TFS’s mountain bike. This meant we began our day renting three bikes. *TIP: make sure you reserve your bikes in advance* This is a smaller resort and doesn’t have a huge inventory. There were only a couple of kids bikes and we got the last one. Another win for families from Silver Star – affordable rentals (as compared to Whistler) $56 adult/day and $30 junior/day. Oh – and we happened to be there on Wednesday when kids get free tickets with paying adults – AMAZING! (Can’t think of the last time Whistler Blackcomb gave anything away….)
TFS was going to love this. Although only six at the time he had been solidly riding trails for a couple of years and tackled much of Mt. Fromme and Seymour earlier in the summer.
He was ready. LBB (five years old) was more timid. He was new to gears and took a bit of time to warm up – until he saw the view. This guy will hike a mountain for a view and it seems riding is no different. He loved the rolling trails through wildflower meadows and forests to see the changing sweeping vistas. With his legs tired, he and I packed it in at lunch time while TFS and Matt tackled more challenging terrain in the afternoon.
A little bit of luck brought tubing into our afternoon adventure. On our ride back to village an eagle-eyed LBB spotted a $20 bill in the grass. It was a hotly debated topic – ice cream or tubing? There was only one real answer: tubing!
Silver Star has set up two summer tube lanes – much like their winter counterparts but a lot warmer using brushes instead of snow. Waxed, hard-bottomed tubes are launched down the hill and riders board a conveyor to repeat.
It was a lot of fun – bend-over, gut-shaking-laughter fun. Over and over again fun. And it was HOT – with no shade I felt a bit like I was on a rotisserie. Next time I would definitely load up on water and bring a large bottle to keep at the top.
Another win for Silver Star – I was really impressed with all the staff I met. They were quite young – late teens-early 20s. Dealing with tourists is not always easy – especially ones paying resort prices – we were there the last week in August so the crew had been at this all summer and time and time again the staff we interacted with were friendly and engaged. Especially the three guys working the tubes – the staff seemed delighted to chat with my boys who seemed to conclude they were the coolest.
Accommodations and food
There are a variety of accommodations available at Silver Star from fancy condos to bare bones to camping. We chose a pretty basic condo at the Lord Aberdeen and it was much larger than I expected but rather dated. It’s view was the loading bay of the store and bar below which did offer a weird smell through the window depending on how the wind blew. The advertised hot tub was definitely non-functional and I wonder if it got repaired for winter. Speaking with the accommodation booking staff it sounds like this particular building might not be so family-friendly in the winter with a raucous pub down below. In the summer its proximity to the playground and silence was perfect for our family.
Next year we will give camping a try (I had assumed it might be full and didn’t want to risk having no where to stay , hence the condo, but in fact only two of the numerous spots were taken).
It isn’t the most tent-friendly camping spot, so with the plan for the Vanagon to be up and running we will check this out in the future.
My only real frustration with Silver Star were the restaurants, after a week of camp cooking we made the decision to not stock up at the grocery store in Vernon and planned to eat out. There were two restaurants and a bakery open (much more are available in the winter). The food Matt and I had was good but I thought the prices for kids’ meals were expensive. They were about $9-12 – at one restaurant that included drinks, at the other it did not. Perhaps in the context of the cost of an entire holiday it isn’t much but it felt expensive for what they got.
Will we be back?
Yes! As we drove down the mountain (stopping to watch the deer) the boys asked to go back. It is a theme we have heard mentioned throughout the fall and winter – when I mentioned I had booked camping in Banff again for 2017 the next question was Are we going to Silver Star? This time we will be armed with four mountain bikes.
(All opinions are my own and no compensation was provided.)