First Impressions: Northstar Bike Park
Riders and Video: Geoff Gulevich, Damon Iwanaga & Cam Zink // Photography and Writing: Paul Kalifatidi
When Pinkbike approached me about shooting photos for a First Impressions piece at Northstar bike park, needless to say, I was excited. I had never actually ridden a bike park. It would really be a true first impression and I’m glad to say that Northstar couldn’t have been a better intro into the world of lift access mountain biking.
I live in Bellingham, Washington, where the trails are wet, rooty, and soft… a far cry from the rocky, dusty, high speed trails I enjoyed at Northstar. The difference was exciting and I felt challenged by the change in traction and pace. The technical bits required different care and the berms and straights made for exhilarating speed that I’m not quite used to back home.
Going into the trip, my biggest fear was being unsuspectedly towed into a larger feature than I could chew. That fear was quickly set aside as the trail managers at Northstar do a good job of making sure that features are rollable at slow speeds but serve up plenty of air should you choose. That’s not to say there aren’t gnarly trails that will quickly humble you if you pick a bad line into a dusty rock as there are plenty of tech trails such as Tell No Tales that will deliver carnage. Made for the 2019 Enduro World Series, TNT is Northstar’s stand out tech trail featuring plenty of steep, loose, dusty shoots and rock rolls that beg skill from even the best rider. If you’re in search of more tech, head over to the other side of the park for Karpiel, one of the original hand-cut trails at Northstar.
If you’re looking for the iconic bike park jump lines and sweeping berms, check out Livewire and Gypsy. Livewire features plenty of airtime while Gypsy has some beautiful wooden features such as the wooden roller coasters. Gypsy was my favorite trail in the park as it is incredibly different from the trails I’m used to riding. I made sure to get in multiple laps. My only advice is to keep your speed up and enjoy the noise of rubber on wood. This is the kind of trail that makes a trip to Northstar memorable.
I came away from my Northstar experience feeling fulfilled. I had survived following three pros at the top of their game thanks to the beginner friendly trail building, but I didn’t feel as though they had missed out on the air and the rough stuff that they enjoy so much. I’d say that is my biggest take away from my trip: Northstar is a great place to bring a group even if the skill levels are quite diverse. No matter your experience level and sending preferences, Northstar bike park is worth the trip.
Join us for lots of dust and our first impressions.
Gully taking air samples of that sweet Sierra air. Consensus: less wet than the Northshore.
The dust makes for some otherworldly riding, unless you're from California, then you just call that riding.Northstar California Resort mountain biking trailsSince filming, Northstar has opened the Gatorade Skills Zone at Mid-Mountain offering a dedicated space for progression including drops, berms and an airbag, as well as a re-done and re-vamped Toyota Jump Park built in conjunction with Sensus RAD Trails and the Northstar Bike Park Trail Crew.