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Sports >  Outdoors

60% of Idaho ski areas offer summer mountain biking

UPDATED: Thu., July 1, 2021

Dani Demmons rides an electrically assisted mountain bike on July 16, 2018.  (Eli Francovich)
Dani Demmons rides an electrically assisted mountain bike on July 16, 2018. (Eli Francovich)
Staff Reports

It’s summer, but that doesn’t mean heading to the ski hill is out of the question. Eleven of Idaho’s ski areas offer lift-served mountain biking and North Idaho’s resorts offer plenty of options.

Close to Wallace, Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area and the Route of the Hiawatha, which the resort operates under a special-use permit of the U.S. Forest Service, are open.

Considered the crown jewel of the nation’s rails-to-trails initiative, the 15-mile Route of the Hiawatha’s gentle 1.6% to 2%, all-downhill ride straddles the Idaho-Montana state line, delves 10 tunnels, crosses seven sky-high train trestles, and has a shuttle service back to the top. Attracting more than 70,000 riders last summer, the Route of the Hiawatha is one of the most popular ski area bike trails in the country.

It opened May 28, is accessible daily through Sept. 19, and is offering full-moon night rides June 24, July 24, and Aug. 22 by reservation only. In fact, the Route of the Hiawatha strongly encourages guests make reservations this year for the day they want to ride — especially when renting equipment.

Meanwhile, Lookout Pass opened its ski area for the summer June 12. It offers lift-served mountain biking and hiking trails, scenic chairlift rides up and down the mountain, a mountain summit nine-hole frisbee golf course, a bungee jump, and huckleberry picking later in the season. Lookout Pass will operate Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through Sept. 19 with the exception of July 9-11, when only scenic lift rides and bungee jumping will be offered during the three-day Mountain Archery Festival 3-D archery shoot.

New as of last summer, the Lookout Pass mountain bike park offers impressive views of the St. Regis Basin and offers five top-to-bottom downhill mountain bike trails with more on the way. There are no jumps or wooden features on its family friendly trails, which vary from singletrack that winds through the woods and across ski trails to wider mountain-access roads.

Visit SkiLookout.com and RideTheHiawatha.com for more details.

Meanwhile, Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg opened summer weekend operations — which include mountain biking and scenic rides on North America’s longest gondola — May 29. Daily operations commence June 19 and run through Labor Day, Sept. 6. At that point weekend operations will continue through Oct. 3.

Silver Mountain Bike Park sports nearly 40 singletrack trails that span 3,300 vertical feet.

It recently added e-bikes to the fleet at Silver Mountain Sports. The new rentals allow guests to more easily explore sections of the nearby Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes.

The resort also boasts the state’s largest indoor waterpark, Silver Rapids, which opened for weekends over the Memorial Day holiday and began daily operations June 11. However, due to COVID-19 concerns, the resort is limiting waterpark access on such high-occupancy days as Saturdays and holidays to Silver Mountain lodging guests only. Regardless, the resort does not sell walk-up tickets to Silver Rapids — all tickets must be booked ahead of time online or over the phone.

The Stix and Stones Silver Mountain Xtreme Challenge returns June 19-20 after taking a hiatus last summer due to the pandemic. Hundreds of enduro motorcycle racers from all over the world compete on one of the gnarliest dirt bike courses in the country, racing up, down, around, and through some of Silver Mountain’s most popular ski runs.

The resort will begin hosting its Friday evening Ride & Dine Series of mountaintop barbeques featuring live music and 360-degree views of the surrounding peaks June 25.

Silver Mountain will host its annual 4th of July fireworks show at 10 p.m., with the pyrotechnics display launching from the back of the resort’s gravel parking lot.

It will host Brewsfest, an annual mountaintop craft beer-tasting event, Aug. 14.

Negative Split is making Silver Mountain the second stop on its Back to Nature Race Series Aug. 22. Entrants can choose from 6k (3.7-mile), 9k (5.6-mile), and 18k (11.2-mile) courses.

And Silveroxx, its annual three-day mountain bike festival, returns Sept. 24-26.

Visit SilverMt.com for more details.

Biking season at Schweitzer near Sandpoint begins June 18, with daily operations continuing through Sept. 6. The resort maintains more than 40 miles of mountain bike trails, and it also offers a 2-hour hosted E-bike tour daily.

Schweitzer’s summer visitors also can play disc golf on its 18-hole course and enjoy scenic chairlift rides on the Great Escape Quad to the summit. The latter serves up breathtaking views of Lake Pend Oreille and the Selkirk, Bitterroot, and Cabinet mountain ranges.

Other summer activities include hiking and trail running, geocaching, bungee trampolines, a 25-foot climbing wall, gold panning, huckleberry picking, and horseback riding.

The resort is hosting the Race the Wolf Ultra Trail Race June 27. Entrants can choose from 52k ultramarathon, 26k, and 8k courses.

The family oriented Huckleberry Color Fun Run & Walk returns Aug. 8. Participants can choose between 5k and 2.5k courses.

All events are subject to change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit Schweitzer.com for more details.

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