Lift-served biking on the Warm Springs Trail – Sun Valley/ Ketchum, Idaho
August 1, 2009
Words and photos by Lee Lau unless otherwise noted.
BALD MOUNTAIN – the Sun Valley ski hill
On a one week road-trip through Idaho and Montana, Sharon, Tyler and I took advantage of an offer to sample some lift-served biking off Bald Mountain in Sun Valley/Ketchum, Idaho. We are no strangers to lift-served mountain-biking. Sharon patrols at the Whistler Bike Park. I rode those same trails before there was even a bike park and Tyler’s been riding downhill, freeride and XC most of his adult life.
First some clarification. I had always thought of this entire area as “Sun Valley” – such is the power of marketing. There’s actually a resort village known as Sun Valley. Adjacent to the resort is the town of Ketchum. There are actually two ski hills. One is Bald Mountain (operated by the Sun Valley resort and branded as “Sun Valley”) which has more terrain and vertical then the sister operation of Dollar Mountain , which has more beginner friendly terrain. Suffice it to say that if you’re going to bike the lifts or ski at Sun Valley it’s likely that you’ll be using the lift system at Bald Mountain. More details on the history of Sun Valley is documented here.
Lift-served biking at Sun Valley is no adrenaline junkie thrill-craft type of ride. Rather it’s a rather pleasant ramble down super-buff trails that are not overly technical, are approachable by people of all different skill levels and indeed, can be (and often are) ridden down hill and uphill. That this is lift-serviced is more a pleasant convenience then an implication that you will find big technical features on these trails. Instead of jumps, skinnies, step-ups or step-downs or big berms you will find flowy, fast singletrack that winds through the woods. This is not to say that you can’t push yourself or have a lot of fun on Warm Springs railing downhill at speed – which we did whenever we had clear sightlines
Secondary office building. From the lack of crowd you can get the picture that lift-serviced biking isn’t a big draw … yet