Gravel is The New Gold in Clinton, BC
Historically, Clinton was established as part of the Cariboo Gold Rush Trail. Today, it’s prospectors pan for gravel.
We first met Kelly, owner of the Tutti Gravel Inn, at Vancouver’s Bike and Travel Show in March. He was serving espressos from the back of Tutti, a bright, red Fiat. Tutti, means “everyone” in Italian, and Kelly invites everyone to stay at his Gravel Inn. Shortly after his launch came the Instagram posts from friends who had recently been – we’re in!
Situated right on the main street in Clinton, the Inn has been thoughtfully renovated to accommodate an apartment for the owners, a studio suite as well as a three-bedroom main section of the house. There is an outdoor area to clean bikes and an indoor room in which to hang bikes. Presently, Kelly is converting the back shed into a Club House that has a wood-burning oven that he hopes will serve pizza to guests. Personally, I hope he gets his Rocket espresso machine in operation for commercial use.
Kelly does crazy mileage on his gravel bike and records many of his epic rides on Rides with GPS allowing you to download the routes into your own cycle computer to follow. When he’s not out riding, he is happy to sit down with you and share his route descriptions over coffee.
We had two days to ride and chose the High Bar Road Short Loop (72.3 km 1,529 m). The “short” meant that we drove to the start/end of the loop as opposed to beginning at the Inn. You can park near the Echo Valley sign.
It is definitely preferable to ride this loop clockwise to enjoy the spectacular views from the top of the 23% grade descent as opposed to tackling this long, vertical at the end of the ride. It took us a couple hours just to descend as every few meters was another stunning view in which to capture.
Once down, the road rolls parallel along the Fraser River. Sparsely situated ranches dot the landscape. As the road moves away from the river view the ascent begins. What makes this ride so spectacular is that the topography is so distinct from that of the coast. Also, the warmer, drier climate increases your need for water intake. Bring double the amount you normally would. Approximately 44 km from the start, Dennis’s homestead on the left.
He has a very friendly dog who will come out to greet you. On the right side of the road is a double track, grassy clearing. About 200m in there is a spring in which you can refill your water bottles. We asked permission from Dennis who suggests it is Crown land so anyone is welcome. The ascent on the back side of this loop is more gentle back to the start. Cattle guards are less nerve-racking to traverse when your tires are 32mm versus the 25mm road width.
The second day, we cycled Big Bar Lake Return from Clinton (86 km and 803.6 m). that arrives at Big Bar Lake Provincial Park. The elevation along this road is fairly uniform and can be busy with people visiting the park. The highlight of this ride is to have a refreshing swim in the lake and enjoy a picnic lunch.
The Tutti Gravel Inn invites you to gather a group to explore the vast land of gravel.
Written by Stephanie Jansen, August 2020.