In exactly one month, Bald Mountain will unveil itself in its full summer glory, opening nearly 28 miles of hiking and biking trails to endless possibilities for fun. Whether you prefer to ride a lift up and mountain bike or hike down, or if the reward for scaling 3,400 vertical feet is the scenic and peaceful ride down, your time on Sun Valley’s crown jewel is sure to be rewarding. Prefer to simply enjoy some fabulous views and gentle hiking atop Bald Mountain? Then bring the family and enjoy a round-trip lift ride. No matter your outdoor style, Baldy is the place to be on Idaho’s endless summer days when the lifts start running from River Run.
This summer, there is another way to play on Baldy – the new mountain biking flow trail. Nine new trails will eventually be constructed, offering nearly 20 miles of buttery fresh singletrack, and the first one opens July 1st. Flow trails are great fun according to enthusiasts, but are often located places hard to access by recreational riders. With lift access, those in Sun Valley will be available to bike riders of all ability levels.
Flow trails are downhill trails that are cut to induce a smooth rhythm that has been compared to a “terrain-induced roller coaster experience,” according to the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). Features like banked turns, rolling terrain, jumps and consistent and predictable surfaces keep pedaling and braking to a minimum – gravity does most of the work. Mountain bikers carve back and forth on the trails, flowing down the mountain without maneuvering obstacles or abrupt corners or encountering pesky logs or rocks. It really is available to riders of all fitness levels and skills.
The first trail, recently dubbed “Saddle Up,” is a four-mile, green-rated flow trail (ratings are similar to those given to winter trails) and links the top of the mountain to Roundhouse Restaurant.
The new trails are user-specific and unidirectional, available only for downhill mountain bike traffic. In addition to the flow trails, two new hiking and uphill biking only trails will be part of this upgrade. The design maintains existing use patterns on the hill.
Sun Valley is already singletrack heaven and the addition of flow trails completes the picture of the area as the ultimate riding destination. The flow trails complement 450 miles of singletrack, two pump parks and limitless miles of road riding.
Full service bicycle rental (as well as all related gear rentals and sales) is available at the base of the mountain at Pete Lane’s at River Run. Great mountain fashions, active wear and gifts are also available at the adjacent Brass Ranch.
My favorite way to enjoy Baldy is to hike the approximately five-mile Bald Mountain Trail that originates at River Run. Switchbacks wend through open meadows, covered in wildflowers in July, through pine groves and along many ski runs. It is great exercise and provides fantastic views all around the Valley. I love to catch the lift down upon reaching the summit, munching a well-deserved snack and enjoying the breeze and the view. Like many who live or vacation in Sun Valley, for me, the climb up Baldy is the equivalent to a few good hours on a stair climber at the gym but much more beautiful and much more fun! I am pretty excited to try those flow trails, too.
Lift service lifts off on June 21 for hikers and July 1 for bike service. Many are counting the days. Bring on summer!