NORTH AMERICAN BIKE PARK REVIEW TOUR
SCHWEITZER MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK REVIEW
SEASON 2 | EPISODE 2
Schweitzer Bike Park was the second stop for this year’s Bike Park Review Tour and is a place we’d heard lots about but had never visited. Located about 30 minutes north of Sandpoint, Idaho, Schweitzer Mountain Bike Park is primed for growth and has recently put a more dedicated focus on expanding their bike park terrain. That’s good news since their quad climbs 1,700 vertical feet and they’ve also got a trail that leads to a nearby trail network that yields roughly 4,000 feet of descent! Schweitzer is Idaho’s largest ski resort, meaning the infrastructure and size are there. All that to say, Schweitzer has a lot of potential and we were excited to see how the existing 40 miles of trail would stack up to the bike parks we’ve ridden all over the world.
Located at the base of the Canadian Rockies in the Selkirk Mountain Range and overlooking Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho’s largest and deepest lake, Schweitzer Bike Park and Village offer an idyllic setting for those looking to get away and experience some old school downhill bike terrain.
Lodging and On-Site Amenities
During our visit we stayed at the Selkirk Lodge, which sits at 4,700 feet and is placed conveniently right in the main village. It’s a great option for guests looking to ride the park as it is only steps away from the chairlift, village dining options and the mountain pub. The rooms are nice, clean and the benefit of having a pool, hot tubs and laundry made it perfect for our stay. It is about a 30 minute drive to the town of Sandpoint however, so if you’re looking to be in the mix downtown, be prepared for a commute. Plenty of other lodging options are available from Airbnb and Vacasa rentals to motels and lodges, but we would stay at the Selkirk again.
Compared to Whistler, the village is small but when looking at nearby Silver Mountain, it’s slightly bigger and nicer with more to offer visitors in terms of food and family friendly activities. COVID-19 restrictions had put a slight damper on some of the businesses but we were still able to get food, snacks and all the essentials handled during our stay. We look forward to going back to ride again and enjoy more of the village scene once things return to normal.
Non-biking and family-friendly activities in the village include: hiking, trampoline-bungee jump, rock climbing wall, zipline and horseback riding trails to name a few.
If you’d like to take the drive down to Sandpoint and Lake Pend Oreille, your options for sightseeing and activities grow even more from golfing to lake activities.
The Schweitzer Mountain Biking Trails
Schweitzer Bike Park can best be described as rugged and old-school DH with some new construction going on. There are roughly 40 miles of trails at Schweitzer and they offer riders anything from leg and lung burning XC-loops to NORBA DH tracks. We spent most of our time riding the trails accessed by the Great Escape Quad which climbs 1,700 feet from the village.
Low-Grade Beginner Biking Trails
Bear Grass is a relatively low-grade beginner descent that lets riders get used to the rocky and dry conditions. The switchbacks are slow but not overly steep or tight so riders can push the limits a bit and feel the breaking points of traction and control before getting to the more advanced terrain. Building truly beginner friendly trails is certainly a challenge on such steep and rocky terrain and we applaud the team’s efforts and hope to see their plans for more beginner and kid friendly loops at the base of the mountain come through as it will add a lot more to the menu for newer riders.
Advanced Level Biking Trails
If you’re an advanced level rider there are definitely some more options to be had. Especially if you like raw, natural and rocky terrain. This is not a “modern” bike park full of flow trails, tabletops and berms. This is a downhiller’s park and I for one, had a blast! Although there aren’t a ton of trails on the mountain yet, riders who love learning lines and pushing themselves to get faster lap after lap will be entertained for a couple of days. Pinch flat is a high-speed low brake sidehill with fun floaty step-offs and snappy corners that leads to a variety of more technical or high-speed options. Moffit’s Edge, Zig Zag and Collector were some of our favorites and we had an absolute blast on the newly built Squirrel Master.
High Point Biking Trail
While the park itself is still young and growing, the booming trail network just below offers lots more singletrack and is certainly worth riding! Our trail guide and head of the Schweitzer Mountain Biking Park, Jeff Thompson, took us on one of his favorite rides which begins with the High Point trail at the peak of the resort. After riding for several miles on the resort property, the trail crosses the road and links up with the Selkirk Recreation District trail system for a total descent over 4,000 vertical feet. These lower basin trails are open to the public and can be shuttled or climbed easily and are absolutely worth a visit. They’re fun, raw, rowdy and unpredictable. So ride them with caution at first as jump size consistency and maintenance are not handled by the resort.
Beyond the Schweitzer Park Mountain Trails, local trail groups like the Pend Oreille Pedalers hard at work adding to the trails for northern Idaho visitors and locals alike. Projects like the Basin to Crest are only going to bring more riders and attention to this beautiful area and by having a motivated bike park staff at Schweitzer looking to link their own trails into these budding networks, it looks like a unique and exciting future is in store for Schweitzer and the Sandpoint scene.
THE WOLF’S LAST WORD
Our visit to Schweitzer Bike Park was a fun and worthwhile stop of the tour. As we said in our video, although we had an absolute blast and tons of fun riding the trails here, the smaller trail menu and lack of variety don’t quite make it a must visit destination just yet, at least not as a standalone trip. In our opinion, Schweitzer is a great compliment to a road trip if you’re visiting other mountain biking parks or passing through Idaho on the way to another destination. This park is absolutely worth a couple day’s worth of riding and we’d happily come back again. You won’t find big jump lines, manicured berms or flow trails here, but if you want to test your metal against some rocky, loose and high speed terrain, this park will make you smile without a doubt. The addition of some very fun local singletrack only add to the reason to visit and the quaint village and town of Sandpoint make this spot worth a stop if you’re in the area.
We’re very excited to see this park grow in the future as they’ve got some great potential, steep and fun terrain and a beautiful setting. Thanks to Dig, Jeff and the Schweitzer team for making our visit a ton of fun.
For more info visit, Schweitzer.com
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