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8 Places to Hone Your Mountain Bike Skills This Summer

Get your wheels under you with confidence this summer at these ski resorts with mellow lift-served mountain biking.

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If you’ve been reading our coverage lately, you might wonder if we’ve become a mountain biking magazine. Don’t worry, we’re still solidly in the ski biz—check out our sister title Beta for dedicated MTB coverage—but we do so much mountain biking coverage in the summer not only because it’s fun and it involves going fast down down mountain slopes, but because there really are a lot of transferable skills between the two sports.

That said, if you feel like everyone’s a pro and you’re just dipping a toe in on two wheels, know that you’re not alone. It can be intimidating to get started, but there is just as much mellow, lift-served mountain biking terrain at ski resorts as there is gnarly, full-face-helmet-recommended steep stuff. We asked the experts and gathered recommendations on where to get started, or level up, on a mountain bike. After all, you can’t ski, but you can—and should—feel the wind on your face until the flakes fly again next season.

Keystone, Colo.

  • Total Trails: 55 plus skills park
  • Beginner/Intermediate Trails: 13
  • Base: 9.280 feet
  • Vertical: 2,360 feet

One of the biggest bike parks in the country, Keystone Bike Park offers plenty of technical riding but also a healthy amount of mellower terrain in the form of beginner and intermediate trails through the forested lower mountain. For great summit views, try the long, windy Girl Scouts beginner trail from the top of Dercum Mountain. If you’re looking for some instruction before hitting the trails, Keystone Bike Academy has IMBA-certified guides that lead group and private lessons.

Brian Head, Utah

Brian Head Mountain Biking
Photo: Courtesy of Brian Head
  • Total Trails: 18 plus skills park
  • Beginner/Intermediate Trails: 8
  • Base: 9.600 feet
  • Vertical: 1,707 feet

The resort has spent the past couple summers dialing in its beginner and intermediate offerings in its Brian Head Bike Park. Start on the Color Flow portion of the mountain, which features singletrack and flow trails designed to build skills and encourage progression. There are jumps to try, or to bypass if you prefer. Once you master this, level up to Upper Timberline, which got a facelift this summer and now serves up intermediate-level singletrack from the summit.

Related: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself With These Mountain Biking Tips for Beginners

Sun Peaks, B.C.

Sun Peaks mountain biking
Photo: Courtesy of Sun Peaks Resort
  • Total Trails: 37 plus skills park
  • Beginner/Intermediate Trails: 17
  • Base: 4,116 feet
  • Vertical: 1,952 feet

The Sun Peak Bike Park’s new progression park is a great spot to get acclimated, with five mellow trails with mini berms, a pump track, and a jump line. After that, the aptly named Level Up is a top-to-bottom trail that offers great flow along with beautiful summit views. New this summer, intermediate Bermalade challenges with a twisty-turny route packed with berms, rollers, and moderate rock features.

Silver Mountain, Idaho

Silver Mountain mountain biking
Photo: Courtesy of Silver Mountain
  • Total Trails: 39 plus skills park
  • Beginner/Intermediate Trails: 21
  • Base: 4,116 feet
  • Vertical: 3,400 feet

Silver Mountain Bike Park has amazing trail variety, with some of the best technical downhill biking in the state as well as shorter, gentler trails for newer riders to get their wheels under them. Beginner trail Crescent offers gentle flow and deposits bikers in the skills park, where they can perfect the basics with small berms and rollers. When you’re ready for longer, next-level trails, try Moose Knuckle or Frog Trees off the gondola, gently pitched but home to obstacles and features such as wooden bridges, rocks, and roots.

Also Read: The Best Ski Areas for Serious Downhill Mountain Biking

Grand Targhee, Wyo.

Grand Targhee Mountain Biking
Photo: Courtesy of Grand Targhee
  • Total Trails: 37 plus skills park
  • Beginner/Intermediate Trails: 17
  • Base: 4,116 feet
  • Vertical: 1,952 feet

If riding mellow trails through wildflower meadows sounds appealing, make Grand Targhee Bike Park a destination this summer, and beeline to the trails off the Shoshone chairlift for some great beginner and intermediate flow. If you’re feeling a little unsteady, head back to the skills park to practice the basics, otherwise try Rick’s Basin, a three-mile cross-country loop bursting with wildflowers and mountain views.

Blue Mountain, Pa.

  • Total Trails: 27 plus skills park
  • Beginner/Intermediate Trails: 17
  • Base: 458 feet
  • Vertical: 1,072 feet

Blue Mountain Bike Park is the state’s biggest, offering decent vertical along with a good selection of intermediate and expert technical and freeriding track. New this season, however, is Shakedown Street, a trail tailor-made for beginners. It’s a three-mile route from the summit that wends gently down to the base. There’s also a pump track and progression jump park designed to help you level up in a safe environment.

Mount Snow, Vt.

Mount Snow mountain biking
Photo: Courtesy of Mount Snow
  • Total Trails: 10 plus skills park
  • Beginner/Intermediate Trails: 5
  • Base: 1,900 feet
  • Vertical: 1,000 feet

One of the first ski resorts to offer downhill mountain biking off its lifts, the Mount Snow Bike Park has a little bit of everything, from trails that incorporate technical features such as ladders and man-made surfaces to the Gateway Trail, one of the longest beginner trails in the area, cruising down from midmountain off the Canyon Express. Bullwhip and Evolver, also off the Canyon Express, take it up a notch with a more progressive pitch and technical features. For an easy cruise without much downhill, the XC Base Loop checks the box.

See What It’s Like to Ride Bullwhip at Mount Snow


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