When the snow disappears each year, many ski resorts and mountain towns throughout North America shift gears. They’ve learned to lure valley dwellers back up to the mountains with their bikes to pursue flowy ribbons of dirt and heart-pounding descents. Several Inland Northwest area ski resorts have been slowly heading that direction for years, while others haven’t quite jumped on the mountain bike bandwagon yet. For fat tired riders of all skill levels and abilities, these three regional ski resorts and ski towns offer the summertime equivalent of carving turns down a mountain slope.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort/Sandpoint, ID
Schweitzer Mountain Resort boasts over two dozen trails open to mountain bikes as well as several hiker only trails. Some trails like Bear Grass Cruiser, Redemption and The Collector are downhill only, while others, like many of the 30 plus miles of cross-country trails, allow both uphill and downhill traffic.
For those who prefer to spend less time pedaling and more time rolling down 1,700 feet of expert, intermediate, and beginner trails, the Great Escape Quad is there to aid the uphill haul. “Bear Grass Cruiser is the most popular trail on the mountain,” says Schweitzer Marketing Manager and rider Sean Briggs. “It’s a long, flowy trail with great views of the lake that’s perfect for beginner and intermediate riders.” Briggs reports that new wooden bridges have been added to the trail this season that provide an additional challenge for more advanced riders. Each of the constructed features also have “go around” trails for anyone who prefers to keep their wheels closer to the ground.
For people who are new to mountain biking or feel like their riding skills aren’t up to snuff enough to ride the trails at a ski resort, nothing beats watching others ride and survive a trail first. Schweitzer recently posted a video of two very happy looking riders enjoying the heck out of the Bear Grass Cruiser Trail on the mountain biking page at schweitzer.com. This is a trail that just about anyone with basic mountain biking experience can have a great time on. See for yourself.
For riders who want to turn it up a notch, Collector is the new favorite intermediate to expert trail, according to Briggs. “It’s a super fast and flowy trail with 8 bridges and several freeride features,” he says. Whatever trails you choose to ride, Schweitzer’s views of the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains and Lake Pend Oreille make for some pretty scenic singletrack riding.
When to Go:
The resort is open daily through Labor Day Weekend, with lift access available from 11-5. A one-time lift pass is $12 and unlimited lift trips is $20. The cross-country trail system, which can be ridden right out of the Village, is free and open to anyone who wants to come up and ride the trails. Rental bikes and other gear are also available at the Rental Shop. More info to plan your next Schweitzer Resort MTB bike trip at www.schweitzer.com or call 208-255-3081.
Silver Mountain Resort/Kellogg, Idaho
Silver Mountain has been slowly and quietly making improvements to their bike trails over the last couple of years, but big changes and additions to the trail system are reportedly in the works. “A lot of stuff is happening behind the scenes now, and by next year, it should be a whole new vibe here,” says Silver Mountain Resort Marketing Coordinator and avid rider Willy Bartlett.
Silver already boasts 30 plus miles of downhill and cross-country biking trails with 3,400 feet of vertical, including a new 6-mile, intermediate and beginner cross-country trail down to Chair 3. A new 2-mile expert technical downhill trail is also under construction this summer in the Chair 3 basin.
A lot of work has been done on existing trails, says Bartlett. “We did a total rebuild on Hammer,” he says. “Our focus is on smoother, flowy, berm-to-berm trails, but we also worked on and built up the jump lines to make them bigger but also safer.”
But the major improvements Bartlett is so excited about will get underway this fall when they begin inventorying and re-mapping the entire trail network on the mountain. “We’ve been restructuring and rebuilding some of our older trails, and we are just now getting serious about building more new trails,” says Bartlett. With an expanded trail crew, Bartlett says they hope to build trails that will appeal to a wide range of riders. “We definitely cater to the gravity crowd, but we’re also putting in mellower trails. We’re in the beginning phase of making Silver Mountain into a major mountain biking destination.”
The gondola runs Friday 11-8, Saturday 9:30-5, and Sunday-Tuesday 9:30-4 through Labor Day Weekend, then on weekends only through September. Chair 3 is open through August on weekends only. A gondola and bike trail pass for the day is $33. To keep in the loop on Silver MTB happenings, find them on Facebook at: facebook.com/silvermountainresort
Also check out a sneak preview of an upcoming video about riding at Silver from Ride My Domain at http://vimeo.com/70166422
For info about bike and other gear rentals call Silver Mountain Sports at (208) 783-1517.
Red Mountain/Rossland, BC
Rossland is starting to feel more like a bike town than a ski town, which is hard to imagine given the frequent deep powder dumps Red Mountain Resort has become known for during the dark, cold months. But it’s true. Local riders and the Kootenay Columbia Trails Society have built such an amazing network of over 100 miles of brilliant, beautiful trails in recent years, that the possibilities for exploring long loops of righteous singletrack right out of town could eat up a good chunk of your summer vacation. Many of the trails wind up above town towards Red Mountain Resort and include a mix of technical and intermediate singletrack along with a surprising number of beginner trails. The acclaimed 35km IMBA Epic Seven Summits Trail carves a path from Nancy Greene Pass to just about the U.S. border, including a stretch along the edge of the ski runs at Red. While the ski resort doesn’t offer summertime lift service for biking and hasn’t yet jumped into the business of developing biking trails, relatively new trails like Red Top, the Redhead Loop, and reportedly others have started creeping their way up towards the ski resort from town.
Trails literally circle the town of Rossland and connect the few kliks up to the trails that climb up around the ski hill. It’s quite easy to get disoriented by the maze of trails and to wander until you discover new trails you’ve never ridden before that take you to places you didn’t know existed. So if you’re the kind of person that likes to pick a route and stick to it, I highly advise stopping in at Revolution Cycles on Columbia Ave downtown to get a trail map and the latest beta. You can also arrange your shuttle for the Seven Summits Trail, rent or repair bikes or purchase gear there as well.
More info on riding in Rossland at: http://www.revolutioncycles.ca/ and http://www.rosslandtrails.ca/