We all know that Bald Mountain is one big playground and next summer, expect to see new, updated, state-of-the-art places to play.
Picture this: It’s a spectacular Sun Valley summer day. You load your mountain bike onto the gondola at the base of River Run and hop on the next car, enjoying the scenic ride up the hill. At the summit, you strap on your helmet, snug up your sunglasses, mount your saddle and prepare to go with the flow.
In the works on Baldy, are nine new “flow” mountain bike trails that will, in the next five to six years, provide nearly 20 miles of new buttery single track that promise to get riders into a groove unlike any they have ever experienced. The first is expected to debut early summer 2014.
Flow trails have become very popular in recent years, but have historically been hard to access for recreational bikers. Not anymore. According to Sun Valley’s Julian Tyo, an avid and accomplished mountain biker who is involved in the concept, design and implementation of these trails, Baldy’s new terrain developments are a game changer. Tyo explained, “flow trails optimize the mountain bike experience for riders of all ability levels,” and ours will be accessible by chairlift.
The concept sounds tantalizing — downhill trails that have an intrinsic, smooth rhythm, a “terrain-induced roller coaster experience,” according to the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). Pedaling and braking are kept to a minimum on flow trails. Instead, features including banked turns, rolling terrain, jumps and consistent and predictable surfaces are what transport the rider through wooded glades or under bluebird skies.
Like a skier or snowboarder, the mountain biker carves back and forth, flowing down the mountain without worry of abrupt corners, obstacles or drop offs. Riders can revel in this experience without concern to their fitness level or skill set. There are no logs to jump or rocks to navigate on the flow trails being built.
Tyo concurs that this is what people can expect on Baldy. “We envision riders of all ability levels using the new flow trails,” he explained. “The design of these trails is for riders of different ability levels to have a variety of experiences on the same trail. Our goal is to provide trails that keep all riders wanting to come back for more.”
The first phase of construction on Baldy’s flow trails is underway, which will result in the scheduled opening of the first at the beginning of summer 2014. Phase one is a “four-mile, green rated flow trail (with ratings similar to winter ski trail ratings) on Forest Service land from the top of the mountain to Roundhouse,” Tyo said.
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.
How vital is this project to enthusiasts who visit or live in the area? Very! “This project is important to the Resort to increase summer offerings on Bald Mountain consistent with the goal of year-round recreation on public lands,” Tyo enthused. “The addition of these trails completes the picture of Sun Valley and the Wood River Valley as the ultimate riding destination, with nearly 450 miles of singletrack, two pump tracks and now a contemporary lift-accessed bike park. Our goal is create a ‘ski season for the summertime’ on Bald Mountain.”
Next May, when the snow has melted, your skis are tucked away for the season but it isn’t quite nice enough yet to get on the trails, just remember, soon, very soon, you will be able to get your groove on.
For Tyo, “adding new downhill trails on Baldy has always been a dream.” A dream, that is about to become reality.