NORTH AMERICAN BIKE PARK REVIEW IN IDAHO
SILVER MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK
SEASON 2 | EPISODE 2
Located in the Silver Valley of Idaho’s Panhandle region, Silver Mountain Bike Park overlooks Interstate 90 and the tiny town of Kellogg. This bike park is a bit of a sleeper in the sense that many people outside the neighboring riding communities have never heard of it. Despite being voted the #1 best bike park in the Northwest four years in a row, most of the people we’ve talked to in our travels had never been, or heard of Silver Mountain. Although we’re probably going to ruffle some feathers from local riders who love this park’s under-the-radar vibe, we’d be remiss if we didn’t say this park has some incredibly fun and challenging terrain that riders will truly love.
Silver Mountain has one of the longest gondolas in the world and the longest in North America covering a distance of 3.1 miles. Total elevation gained on the massive gondola is 3,400 feet while a second chair services another section of the mountain and provides riders with a quick turnaround to shred 800 vertical feet on several trails of various levels. Many beginning riders spend time on the Chair 3 zone and get comfortable on the mellower trails before tackling the full 3,400-foot descent back to the village. For comparison Whistler Bike Park’s elevation change from the Garbanzo zone to the village is roughly 3,800 feet and the lower Fitzsimmons zone which houses crowd favorites like A-Line, Dirt Merchant and Schleyer drop just over 1,100 feet of vert. Needless to say, Silver Mountain has the terrain to challenge the greats. Now it’s just about adding to the infrastructure.
About 40 gravity-oriented trails wind down Silver Mountain and funnel riders into downtown Kellogg where a short and scenic pedal back to the gondola gives visitors a unique perspective of this town and Dave Smith’s impressive collection of new Dodge trucks and cars. After a pedal through downtown riders pass by the small pumptrack and camp-friendly parking lot before returning to the Morning Star Lodge and Gondola Village for another ride back to the top. We’d suggest grabbing a huckleberry lemonade from Noah’s for the long ride back up.
Lodging and On-Site Amenities
Kellogg is a quiet town with a rich mining history. Over the years mining jobs and revenue have slowed due to environmental protection and northern Idaho has shifted focus to more recreational avenues to support the communities and locals, well that and Dave Smith’s inescapable grasp on everything from car dealerships to repair shops and vehicle storage. While the town is small, there are plenty of places to stay in the form of camping, Airbnb, motels and the very nice Morning Star Lodge.
Benefits of staying at the Lodge include proximity to the village and bike park. It is the more costly option but worthwhile if you’re looking for a nice place with easy access to town, the park and Silver Falls, Idaho’s largest indoor water park. We stayed at the Silver Inn, which is owned by the mountain but is an older property on the other side of the highway. The outside isn’t much to look at but the rooms have just been renovated and barely used. The rooms are clean, comfortable and the short drive is worth the savings.
If you’re living that van life, camping in the main parking lot is super affordable, close to everything and lots of fun. We’ve spent many nights in the van on prior trips to Silver Mountain Bike Park and met lots of cool people.
If you’ve got the family in-tow there aren’t a ton of options for activities, but just enough for a weekend getaway. The Silver Falls water park is certainly worth a visit and is sure to keep the kids entertained. Beyond that you’re pretty much looking at outdoor activities like hiking and exploring, golfing, or doing some kind of mine history tour, not really much going on. Same goes for the shopping, dining and nightlife.
We’ve always said, Silver Mountain is kinda like the rider’s secret stash bike park. It’s not the Mardi Gras, Whistler party scene at all, but there are a few restaurants in town that will keep you fueled and ready for major vert day after day. There’s a cheap pizza slice spot in the village and a sit-down place called Noah’s Canteen, which is guaranteed to be a long wait and not very good service, but you’re only option on-site for a meal. If you’re not in a rush to crank out laps, the food is pretty good however and the pricing is about what you’d expect at a resort. Just about everything else in the small village has been closed every time we visit, so chances are you’ll be eating at these spots, packing a lunch or visiting an option in town as you pedal back to the gondola.
Down the road about a two-minute pedal is the Hill Street Depot, a spot we recommend and eat at every time we’re in town. The tacos are awesome, as are many other items on the menu. There are a few food trucks, an old-school burger stand called the Humdinger Drive-In and Radio Brewing Company. While there are a few other spots in town, this pretty much rounds out our usual tour of Kellogg. We do suggest taking a trip down to Wallace however, as it’s about 10-15 minutes east on I-90 and is a really neat historic town with a lot of character and some more places to eat and hang out. The 1313 Club has some good offerings and a very friendly staff.
The Silver Mountain Bike Park Trails
If you have read or watched the rest of our videos from Idaho then you’ve probably got a good idea what the trails are like. Rocky, raw, technical and depending on the time of year, loose. Idaho’s mountains are steep and rocky, making trail building a blessing or a curse depending on what type of rider you are.
Green and Blue Bike Trails
Silver Mountain Bike Park breaks the park into two zones, the Chair 3 zone and the Lower Trails. Chair 3 has some very fun tech and DH-bike worthy terrain and is also home to the green and blue trails designed to get rider’s feet wet before tackling the full 3,400 feet Sillver has to offer. Crescent, Payday and Cool Neatness are all green trails with relatively low grade on average. However some of the trails have some pretty significant rocks and steep switchbacks that we observed some beginners having troubles with. It’s a steep pitch and challenging terrain, so we gave the mountain a bit of a pass, but heard mixed reviews from beginners on the trails as some loved the beginner challenge and others found it rougher and harder than they expected.
Black Diamond Bike Trails
But, if we’re being honest, it’s not the greens and blues that have riders picking Silver Mountain as their favorite bike park, it’s the steep and rowdy trails. Snakepit, Frankenbeans, Baby Swiss and Mutton Conductor are standouts for riders who love working their bike and finding natural flow and gaps. While many riders are happy riding enduro bikes here, we loved having a DH bike on hand and would say a 29er will definitely help increase speed and smoothness on the very rooty and bomb-holed trails. We absolutely loved having larger, faster rolling wheels on Jackass and El Burro Loco, which are some of our favorite trails on the mountain. We loved picking up speed lap after lap and finding spots to gap terrain and land in the little berm pockets to shoot out the backside into jagged rocks and chunder. Word to the wise is have some tough tires on your rig, or show up with spares. Our Maxxis Minion DHR II’s were on point and amazingly, we didn’t get a single flat without inserts!
If you’re a flow trail jumper, there aren’t a ton of options here. Hammer to Lower Hammer to Old School is a lot of fun but the trails are tough to maintain because of the number of loose rocks so it’s definitely a fast, high speed jump trail but has some very raw elements to it, meaning your “park bike” jump setup may not be ideal here. Wide Open, Man Child Pepsi Can and Wild Cat are lower mountain trails that are pretty smooth and flowy for the most part and can be a ton of fun for intermediate and advanced level riders alike.
THE WOLF’S LAST WORD
Overall Silver Mountain Bike Park is a pretty kick ass bike park if you’re looking to ride hard, push yourself and work on skills. It is a ton of fun if you love fast and rough terrain. We got some mixed vibes on the beginner trails and feel that the terrain presents some definite challenges when it comes to offering those buttery smooth trails some folks seek at bike parks. The dry summer conditions and rocks certainly take what could be pretty easy trails and add an element of challenge.
The town of Kellogg does not have a ton to offer tourists, nor does the resort when compared to other places like Big Bear, or Mammoth, California, Steamboat Springs, Colorado and certainly when compared to Whistler. That being said, if you’re just looking for a beautiful and quiet setting to shred some top notch trails, get faster and more confident in rough terrain, and get tons of elevation without crowds, Silver Mountain is worth a visit! This is a no BS, “we’re here to ride” kind of park and a place we look forward to visiting again. We would love to see a bit more trail maintenance and even more offerings towards the bottom of the mountain and some more off-mountain options for food and nightlife, but as it sits, we’ll still be back.
For more info visit, Silvermt.com
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