Rich Landers: Time to trade ski poles for pedals
Tired of life’s uphill grind?
With the slopes mostly bare of snow and a powder dream-season just a memory, two area ski resorts will turn their attention to lifting the spirits of hikers and mountain bikers.
Hop on a lift – your bike, too – at Schweitzer Mountain Resort near Sandpoint or the Silver Mountain gondola in Kellogg, and the rest of the day is all downhill.
Saturday both resorts will begin full summer operations.
The best mountain biking next weekend likely will be at Silver Mountain, which opened its summer race series last weekend, and pedalers are finding no shortage of trails to ride.
The best party, however, will be at Schweitzer.
Some trails may still be a bit soggy and off limits to bikers on Saturday, but the chairlift rides will be free, and so will the power-climbing wall and music from three bands. The opening celebration, including disc golf and geo-caching, will run 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Before jumping into the gonzo downhill bike routes, head to Silver and try a classic introductory downhill mountain bike ride called Crescent Road.
The route, totaling 14 miles, starts from the Mountain Haus and blends into a seven-mile dirt road descent that includes lots of corners and six switchbacks. Eventually the route tames as riders re-enter civilization. The tour concludes with a relaxing three-mile pedal on the paved Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes back to the Gondola Village in Kellogg.
The Route of the Hiawatha rail-trail ride, a great 15-mile downhill day trip complete with tunnels and trestles, isn’t serviced by a chairlift.
But Lookout Pass Ski Area runs a bus shuttle for riders who don’t want to ride back up the grade and double the mileage.
The trail is snow-free, and shuttles run daily.
Details: (208)744-1301; www.skilookout.com.