Winter Park adding 10 miles of downhill bike trails | SkyHiNews.com
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Winter Park adding 10 miles of downhill bike trails

by Stephanie Miller
Sky-Hi Daily News

Winter Park Resort is stepping up its mountain biking realm next summer by adding roughly 10 miles of new trails that will mainly focus on downhill and free-riding.

“There won’t be any climbing. They’re designed to be for coasting and pedal-free,” said Bob Holme, manager for the resort’s bike park and terrain park, and youth marketing manager.

The idea to expand on the resort’s mountain biking is part of a greater effort to enhance summer activities. The U.S. Forest Service is working with the resort on the project ” which is part of the resort’s master development plan ” and is currently reviewing the proposal through its environmental assessment (EA).

Holme said the resort and the Forest Service have been working on their mountain bike master plan for three years.

“It’s so great to have it to the point where we start building new trails,” he said. “Anyone who’s been to Whistler knows it’s light years ahead of anybody ” it’s an insanely vibrant place in the summertime because of their bike park.

“I see us in five years being a scaled down version of that, and in the long-term, equal to that.”

Some local riders have expressed dissatisfaction with the resort’s current downhill mountain biking trails, opting to ride at SolVista Ski Basin, which also has lift-accessible terrain but at a smaller scale.

Doug Horton, manager and bike mechanic at the Totally Wired Cyclery in Fraser, started downhill riding at SolVista this summer. An avid rider for 16 years, Horton feels SolVista has more advanced and technical trails with larger features.

“I definitely enjoy riding both places, but SolVista is just a lot more technical and more fun right now. It has a better rock garden and larger gap jumps,” he said.

Horton admitted he’d ride more at the resort if it stepped up its downhill capacity, but “they’ve got a long way to go.”

Asked if Winter Park Resort is behind in the mountain biking arena, Holme said he didn’t think so. From a resort standpoint, the descent has been slower to be adopted, he admitted, but the bike industry has changed so quickly over the past five to six years, “There really hasn’t been a resort that has captured the downhill market,” he said.

Whistler, however, is way ahead of the curve, he added. “And we want to be the next one.”

Holme envisions the resort as one big bike park with trails for all types of riders and a lift to access all the trails. The resort’s biking trails will be designed to handle downhill-specific bikes, Holme explained, and will incorporate new jump trails, elevated trails (wooden platforms) new single track, technical single track and more skills areas, along with rollers, banked and sloping turns and downhill BMX tracks.

Crankworx, which was held last summer, was sort of a sneak preview, he added.

The resort is also doubling its fleet of downhill bikes next year, due to the increased use seen last summer. The new style of downhill-specific bikes have 8 to 9 inches of suspension travel front and back, and are like lightweight versions of motorbikes, Holme said.

But just because the trails are lift-accessible doesn’t mean downhill riding is a “lazy” sport.

“Get a 55-pound bike and do some laps and see if it’s really ‘lazy,'” Holme quipped. “You end up absolutely getting worked. It’s just a different style of fitness.”

Downhill mountain biking, while more of an adrenaline rush, demands maneuvering and bike handling skills rather than pedaling. It can test even the most seasoned cross-country rider, Holme said. “It’s a different level of intensity.”

‘New’ Serenity trail and wider ski trail

The Forest Service, the resort and local trail organizations are also working toward building a better connecting trail between the town of Winter Park and the resort. The project is also part of the resort’s master development plan.

The Headwaters Trails Alliance and the Fraser Valley Partnership for Trails have agreed to take on construction of the trail ” Serenity ” which is currently in need of improvement. The trail was temporarily rerouted this past summer because of problems with private land.

Serenity will continue to be a cross-country trail that gets people from the town to the ski area, said FVPT member Andy Miller. A mile of new trail will be added, and it will be rerouted behind the Timberhouse and other private parcels, and away from its current location next to the railroad tracks.

“It’ll make a really neat loop,” Miller said, who added the Serenity trail will be kept as a beginner trail with a 7 percent or less grade.

The resort also plans to widen an existing ski trail ” called the Thunderbird Traverse trail ” for easier access to the Eagle Wind Chairlift from the Switchyard trail (or Village Way).

Public input encouraged

The Forest Service is preparing an EA under the National Environmental Policy Act on the proposed trail projects, entitled WPR Year-Round Trail Enhancement Projects. The public is invited to attend an open house about the projects on Nov. 15 from 5 to 7 p.m. on the third floor of the Balcony House at Winter Park Resort.

“Comments, ideas, issues, and concerns of the community will be heard and subsequently taken into consideration during the NEPA analysis,” a prepared Forest Service release states.

Written, facsimile, hand-delivered and electronic comments concerning the proposed action will also be accepted.

Written comments can be submitted to: Craig A. Magwire, District Ranger, Sulphur Ranger District, PO Box 109 Tenmile Drive, Granby, CO 80446 or faxed to (970) 887-4102 or delivered by hand during regular office hours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. E-mails can be sent to:

comments-rocky-mountain-arapaho-roosevelt-sulphur@fs.fed.us

Winter Park Resort operates on the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest under a Special Use Permit issued by the Forest Service.

For questions regarding the proposal contact Mike Ricketts at (970) 887-4133 or

e-mail mricketts@fs.fed.us.


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