Ken rolls across the parking lot in full armor. He looks like some kind of garage sale version of a super hero, covered in dust and grit. He pulls his helmet off to reveal a childlike grin and accompanying excitement. “Which trails did you ride?” he asks as we look over the newly released maps of the Selkirk Recreation District Trails.
Sandpoint has always been an incredible place to live and visit. Unless you’re a kite surfer, this place is pretty much heaven on earth. That being said, the potential of Schweitzer Mountain has been rather undiscovered with the exception of the exploration of a few determined mountain bikers. Until now. “If you take the shuttle from the barn to the lodge, you’ve got something like 2,500 feet of vertical to roll down,” says Ken, his smile getting even wider. And we haven’t even mentioned catching any of the resort’s lifts to the summit.
The new weekend shuttle, also a service of Selkirk Recreation District, is $5 per ride and leaves at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. from the base of the mountain to the resort parking lot. The ride takes just long enough to eat a snack, catch your breath and plan your next descent.
Ken describes every trail, their details and corners with the enthusiasm of a creator, probably because he helped make so many of them. Also, I’m pretty sure he spends all summer riding them. Every day. Several times. Which would explain why he’s so damn happy.
With the cooperation of several different groups, a community of switch-back aficionados, and some heavy equipment, a network of trails have been defined. They wind down from the resort in a variety of smooth, flowing descents (each has been designed to be climbable as well) that convene at what is known as The Roundabout.
The Roundabout offers a diverging trail to the base (also an out-and-back ride to a waterfall). Here you choose your own adventure: a downhill course with gaps for guts and glory, or a super flow xc trail that winds its way down the mountain in five miles of tree-lined bliss. The trail drops you back onto the road for a cool down before you load back onto the bus. Chances are, just one lap won’t be enough.