Beyond the Snow: Best Ski Resorts For Mountain Biking Bliss

Editor’s note: The next issue of Dirt Rag is all about ~The Future~ (said with a booming echo). Our Gear focus for the issue is on bike park gear, and the two fit rim-and-tire because bike parks and resorts are becoming more a part of the everyday mountain biker’s experience every year, with more parks opening up trails, more beginner-level downhill tracks to get new park riders comfortable on this type of terrain, and more bikes being designed at relatively moderate price points that can handle big hits at fast speeds. Get stoked on this web feature, then subscribe to Dirt Rag today to make sure you don’t miss out on our print features about the parks we visited, the bikes we rode, and the people making the magic happen.


by Clay Abney

Snow still blankets ski resorts around the country and will for weeks and months to come, depending on your geographic location. Some of us have put our bikes away for the winter to concentrate on slope time while others take advantage of mild days to keep the legs saddle ready for the warmer days ahead. Or perhaps you spend your time on a trainer in the basement or are relegated to spin classes at your local gym. Either way, it’s time to start tuning your bike, making any necessary adjustments, replacing any needed components, and perusing the cycle sites for the latest and greatest kit.

In recent years, more and more ski resorts are extending their seasons by expanding their offerings utilizing their existing infrastructure to cater to mountain bikers. The lift assist is perfect for those that despise the grinding out the uphill climbs for that fleeting moment of downhill bliss. With ski resorts utilizing their lifts to transport riders and bikes from the bottom to the top, more time can be spent careening down rated trails based on your individual experience level.

Here are seven resorts that are pushing the envelope for the downhill enthusiast:

 

Telluride, Colorado

What was good is about to get a whole lot better. In partnership with Gravity Logic (the industry leader in the design, development and construction of bike parks in North America), Telluride began construction of the NEW Telluride Bike Park which is expected to open in June 2019. With a million dollar investment, the new facility will encompass approximately 15 trails and 17 miles of new and enhanced freestyle, technical, and cross-country trails. To top it off, this modern mountain resort sits above the historic mining town of Telluride and is surrounded by the highest concentration of peaks above 13,000 feet in the United States.

Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia

photo credit: Shawn Cassell

From an elevation standpoint, you may be wondering how Snowshoe fits into this list dominated by resorts in the west. In 2017 and 2018, the resort hosted the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships where athletes from across the nation descended on the resort for their chance to be crowned national champion in a multitude of events. With almost 40 trails and 1,500 vertical feet of descent, this may be one of the premier bike parks in the east with something for everyone including first-time riders and downhill pros. If the above wasn’t enough to entice you to the Mountain State, Snowshoe will be the only stop in the United States for the World Cup in 2019.

Steamboat, Colorado

Steamboat Ski Resort/Larry Pierce

Located in northwest Colorado, Steamboat Bike Park features a 50-mile trail network that provides a progressive riding experience for all levels of riders. Utilizing the industry-leadingdesign firm, Gravity Logic, the resort was able to utilize every natural feature the landscape had to offer while creating a park that provides something to entice and challenge riders of all levels. At the end of a hard day of riding, immerse yourself in the area’s therapeutic hot springs for a unique and rejuvenating mountain experience.

Mammoth, California

photo credit: Mammoth Mountain/Lauren Burke
photo credit: Mammoth Mountain/Lauren Burke
photo credit: Lauren Burke/Mammoth Mountain

Featuring over 80 miles of single track with names like Pipeline and Shock Treatment, this arid, adventure playground located in southern California is every rider’s dream destination. Mammoth Bike Park is loaded with both natural and man-made features and provides something for everyone. The park’s Discovery Zone is completely dedicated for riders of all ages looking to progress their skill level. With over half-a-dozen trails added across the last several seasons, the park offers flowing cross-country to gnarly downhill and just about everything in between.

Winter Park, Colorado (Trestle bike Park)

photo credit: Carl Frey/Winter Park Resort
photo credit: Carl Frey/Winter Park Resort

This July, mountain bikers seeking to vie for chance at a podium finish will gather at Winter Park for the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Nationals. Dating back to as early as 1995, riders were taking the Zephyr lift up and navigating their way down the mountain. However, it wasn’t until 2009 that Trestle Bike Park opened and an icon was born. Trestle features over 40 miles of gravity-fed downhill. The park boasts trail names playing off of the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rides features trails with names like No Quarter, Cruel and Unusual, and Double Jeopardy.

Crested Butte, Colorado 

photo credit: Trent Bona/CBMR

For over a decade the Evolution Bike Park has challenged riders of all levels. From lengthy cross-country loops to gravity-defying drops, the 29 trails within the park comprise 30 miles of singletrack. Riding in the shadow of Mt. Crested Butte provides unprecedented views of the area while also complimenting the 750 miles of singletrack within the Gunnison Valley. The name of the park is fitting as it continues to evolve to meet the demands of an ever-changing array of riders seeking out the ultimate in adrenaline riding.

Park City, Utah

photo credit: Deer Valley
photo credit: Deer Valley

With over 450 miles (we’ve heard other numbers but that number only goes upward) of public trails, Park City may be the pinnacle of mountain bike destinations in North America. The destination was the first in the world to receive Gold Level Ride Center status from IMBA. At last count, there were only six total around the globe with that distinction. The same lifts at Park City Mountain and Deer Valley Resort’s that provide access to world-class skiing in the winter, provide the summer version of the same intense terrain. The interconnected system of trails allow riders of all levels to experience trails with names like Holy Roller (beginner), Tidal Wave (intermediate), and Tsunami (expert).