Mountain Bike Trail Spotlight: Half Nelson Squamish

Half Nelson Squamish

Photo by 7mesh Web:

  • Prime Time: April– October
  • Bike Rentals: Contact Us
  • Length: 3km downhill
  • Time: 45 min – 1hr round trip
  • Skill: Novice to Advanced

If you are seeking a mountain bike trail that gets your heart pounding as your body’s adrenaline surges then Squamish’s Half Nelson downhill pump track is not going to disappoint. It has a little bit of something for every skill level as it is vastly considered a beginner, intermediate, and advanced trail combination. Since it first opened in 2010, the trail has surged in popularity with riders descending from around the world to sail down the trail’s rapid descent. Adventure Journal states that the Half Nelson Bike Trail Squamish experiences about 120 riders per day, seven days a week, 365 days per year according to the trail’s electronic counter that counts the number of riders as they reach the trail’s end.

Click and Zoom on map for more detailed trail information 

The Half Nelson trail was constructed on the Squamish’s Diamond Head riding area. There is ample trailhead parking throughout the Diamond Head region with three main trail-head parking lots; The Lower, Middle and Top.  Most people park in the middle lot if they plan on only doing laps on the Half Nelson. You can also park one car in the lower lot and leave the other vehicle in the upper lot to  easily shuttle and add a super fun lap of Psudo Psuga to your ride.

A true flow trail, the Half Nelson requires very little braking during your descent. You’ll begin your ride on the Half Nelson by riding across a hillside and through a series of rollers that are sure to leave you smiling from ear to ear because they are just flat out fun and a great way to warm up. There are even a few creek bed crossings that help spice up the ride and add to the thrill.You can also sail across bridges.There is a switchback area with rollers to create even more action in your ride. If you want to try out your riding skills there are a few banked corners and tabletop jumps. In the faster section of the trail you will catch some air.  At the trail’s end, there is one last switchback. In total, you will enjoy 102 jumps, 20 bridges, 68 berms and all while descending a rapid 900 feet. Not too many bike trails in the world offer so much!  As you near the trail’s end, you can opt to continue up to the FSR to enjoy another lap or you can head down to Darwin’s Crossing on Fool’s Gold.


Photo by 7mesh Web:


The main riding season for the trail is May through October but the trail is widely ridden year round.  Although there are some muddy sections and loose corners, the trail can easily be rode in the rain and during muddy riding conditions. The entire descent can take anywhere from 15 minutes – 35 depending on your comfortable speed level.  The fast loops make it a trail  you can enjoy several times throughout the day or connect with other Squamish Mountain bike trails for a longer more epic ride!

Half Nelson was constructed by a combination work effort that consisted of the a bevy of volunteers and the Big Red Ted Tempany. It was  the first official government funded mountain bike trail in Squamish. The trail’s construction was comprised of a unique combination of physical labor with shovels and rakes and the skill of a small mini-excavator. During the entire excavation process of weaving the singletrack trail through the lush forestland, one goal remained in focus and that was to make sure that sustainability was always maintained during the trail’s entire construction. The Half Nelson’s design further helps ensure that the surrounding forestland land remains untouched and sustainable even while playing host to a large number for bike riders every year.

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