The Whopper Dropper trail system is a series of hiking and mountain biking trails located behind the Bayers Lake business park in Halifax, NS.
As far as I can tell, people have been biking here since the dawn of mountain biking in the Halifax area.
In this blog entry, I am going to describe one loop that I frequently ride and enjoy. It is part of the trail system that will remain after the lower section
falls to corporate greed, is developed.
Whopper Trail Head to Lake Loop Entrance
The trailhead is located at the end of the dirt road beside Burger King (hence, the “Whopper” part of the name). The first part of the trail is an ascent on an easy to follow path consisting of granite slab with stunted pine shrubs on either side and with a few granite obstacles along the way. The granite can be fast and flowy (in its own way) but will eat you like a cheese grater if you make a mistake. Fortunately, the granite slabs are easy riding and that doesn’t happen too often.
The ascent is short (1 km) and you will cross a couple of low bridges on the way to the top. You will know you are at the top, it just feels like a natural resting spot and there a few waist high granite boulders to rest against.
From there, it is a moderate granite down grade that can be fun and fast with some twists and a small drop here and there. Easy stuff. If you are going fast, keep an eye out for hikers and dog walkers (they are extra points.. I’m kidding).
It continues for about 300 m until you come to an intersection.
Lake Loop Start
The path to the left takes you to the rock garden and eventually the lower section of the power lines. To the right is the start of Lake Loop (aka: Lab Pass). It takes us down to Suzie’s Lake. This is the path we’ll explore today.
From the start of Lake Loop, it will be 2.4 km of fun before this part of the trail ends and we have a decision to make.
Note: everything up to this point will fall to the dozers and excavators, but I’m sure the shopping will be great. The big shame here is that the part to be lost is the fun all weather granite slab section with drops and other features to play on. Including the Shawshank trail which is a string of dandy 2-3 ft drops. (Yep, I’m mixing my units, deal with it.)
Here’s an awesome video that Chad Polegatto made at whopper that definitely shows some of the granite drops. On the forum, Kinger, has also posted impressive videos of some whopper drops.
Here we gradually start to get off the granite slab and into some wooded single track (with granite boulders embedded in it here and there). The granite makes up the trail features mostly from now on, not just the substrate. Some fun stuff too… granite to climb, hop over, skillfully avoid, skitter down and to drop off.
The trail contains some pretty technical obstacles, so don’t be afraid to walk through the bits you are not comfortable with. Think of these as future challenges… this trail grows with you. If you keep your head up, there will be no surprises.
The first fun feature you will encounter is the granite ramp (yes, yes, I’m going to use the g-word a lot, that’s link bait for people searching for counter tops that really should be biking). The ramp has a snub nose on it so you’re going to need some commitment and follow through. With some skill and practice you can hop up onto the ramp, climb it and then power down the steep side to the left to follow the trail. It’s an easy roller though.
After some single track and minor obstacles (was there a rocky / rooty climb in there? probably), you will come to a 2′ drop that is pretty fun and can be rolled or dropped. Its a blind roller which makes you think you might pogo over the top, but it is doable for sure.
Following along the trail some more, we come to what I call the “Hill of Boulders”.
Hill of Boulders (yes, granite boulders)
Fortunately, the entrance to the hill of boulders is just a short twisty semi-technical 20′ section that ends on top of the hill (of boulders) and not a longer climb as you might expect. At the top, there are two narrow bridges that span gaps in the rock.
Off to the right, you will see just how high the hill of boulders is. But don’t look to long while riding, its a tricky section.
Just after the bridges, there is a steep granite slope, er.. make that two steep granite slopes in quick succession. With some balance (and courage) these are easily rollable.
After some more challenging but fun single track, you are rewarded with a nice view of Suzies Lake. It’s actually a small part of a cluster of interconnected lakes including Quarry Lake, Fox Lake and more that are collectively known as the Birch Cove Lakes.
Just past the lake view is a nice, well built, bridge that spans the small stream that flows between two sections of granite slab.
Another 100 m and we come to the tee in the trail. To the right, the trail eventually leads to the upper part of the power lines. It is a nice old growth section of woods with big trees, big green moss covered boulders and some heart pumping climbs and downhill sections. It’s a favorite of mine as well. I save it for my epic ride days.
To the left is where we are going. It will take us back to the granite slab area of the Whopper Trail System, just above the rock garden.
The trail back to Whopper proper starts with a fun little stepped down hill section and some more rooty single track.
Soon we will come to a short but steep descent down to a gully and a bridge. Get your weight back and hang on for this one. Oh, and be ready for the bridge!
When you come to the tee in the trail, take the left.
The Rocky Finger and the Perils Beyond.
(Ok, that heading is a little over the top.)
Moving on, we enter a big boulder section that starts with this fun little rocky finger. It is actually easier than it looks.
Following this rocky section, you will find just a bit more single track before this section of the trail ends and we are back on some granite slab. Turn left and head up the hill. The trail is well marked.
But wait… there is one more feature I’d like to tell you about!
As you head back up you will come to the snakey s-turn climb shown in the sequence shot below. Keep your head up though because the wooden ramp at the start is also a landing zone and this is an uncontrolled airspace. Folks more daring than myself like to take the 4 ft drop to land on the wooden ramp. Pretty impressive stuff.
Anyway, this short s-turn climb is tricky and you will need some oomph to get onto the granite hump at the end.
From here, you can easily make your way up back to the resting spot at the top and then back out to the cul-de-sack for a burger.
Remember, after the lower section of Whopper is blasted and leveled, we will still have these awesome trails around Suzies Lake to test our mettle. Among these are the Lake Loop to power lines, Death March and the little secret the other side of the power lines. And who knows what new trails are possible… perhaps, even a connector to the Evil Birch trail.
Hope you enjoy your ride and keep your bike between you and the granite.
References and Links:
More maps can be found in the Pedal Trout maps archive.
Special thanks to my buddy Ted Lapierre (the rider in black) for assistance with this post (and awesome compositing job on the sequence image).