A new lift-assist mountain bike park will soon grace the slopes of Snoqualmie Pass, just an hour’s drive east of Seattle on I-90.
Site flagging has begun under a design contract, with construction scheduled to begin next summer. Barring unforeseen delays, officials expect a 2019 opening.
“We’re looking at developing at least one beginner, one intermediate and one or two downhill trails,” said Yvonne Kraus, executive director of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. “We want to make the pass a thriving summer destination that for some reason it’s never become.”
Long a leading ski resort, 2000-acre Snoqualmie looked like it could develop into a major mountain biking destination in the late 1990s after hosting NORBA and UCI World Cup races. The courses were primitive by today’s standards, however, and the mountain bike spark never caught fire.
“They were there early, but it was before people really figured out how to best design, manage and monetize mountain bike parks,” said Bryce Phillips, a local entrepreneur who spearheaded the latest effort.
Instead 1125-acre Stevens Pass to the north began offering lift riding five years ago, and some talk turned to Crystal Mountain ski area at Mount Rainier to the south.
Snoqualmie, though, is considerably more convenient from a distance and traffic perspective. And trail building and bike gear “have evolved in such a major way over the years,” Phillips said, along with Puget Sound’s population explosion and “the tremendous growth in mountain biking as a mainstream sport.”
Phillips, CEO and founder of outdoor retailer evo, and Jon Kennedy, former director of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, got the ball rolling in a meeting last year with the pass resort and the alliance.
“A lot of people were involved pushing this, including resort customers, mountain bike enthusiasts and the outdoor community,” Phillips said. “We said, it’s finally time.”
Although the site includes a small section of Snoqualmie National Forest property, few environmental issues exist since it’s already being used for other recreational purposes, Kraus noted. The bulk of the park will be on private land.
“A lot of us have been hoping for this for a long time,” Phillips said. “To see it actually come to fruition is hugely exciting.”
To learn more, check out www.summitatsnoqualmie.com.