Each individual's life story is nothing but a flash of a synapse compared to the timeline of the evolution and shaping of the Earth we traverse our bikes upon. For instance, this passage of time has allowed crustal movements, glaciation, and other occurrences and extremes in nature to shape the Flathead Valley into a diverse environment, ideal for mountain biking. At an elevation of 3,033 feet, Whitefish, Montana is tucked away in the northernmost tip of this valley.
In days of old, Whitefish, MT was a thriving community supported by farming, timber, ranching, and the railroad. In the present day, the town is now considered a gateway destination to Glacier National Park and subsides mainly on tourism.
We'd heard that winter brings primo snow for icy wonderland lovers, but we were itching to see what the mountains had to offer during the glowing, languid days of late summer. With the bonus of being in close proximation of the Canadian border, and yielding an array of outdoor recreational activities, Whitefish, MT delightfully surprised us with some of the most fun mountain biking we had experienced all year. And I say this without even getting a chance to ride the local bike park...
We quickly discovered that one of our favorite spots was the freeride area at Spencer Mountain. The range of trail styles was surprisingly phenomenal. From 'groomed' man-made features to raw, steep, and technical, this downhill haven could have easily entertained us for the entire summer. Spencer Mountain seemed to truly embody the roots of freeride; whereas other trails in the area are shaped with a more structured trail building approach.
In our time spent in Whitefish, we barely scratched the surface of all the affable town had to offer, especially when it came to acquainting ourselves with the scores of trails in the surrounding area. There seem to be crystalline lakes burrowed in every nook and crag of the mountains that so many of the trails wound through.
Single track was bountiful and constantly beckoning. Some of our days were spent piloting our bikes for miles under the staple, vast Montana skies across strategically built trails that help to compile some of the Whitefish Trail, which to date, covers 40 miles of a proposed project to augment a 55 mile recreational trail system. Miles of buff, flowing single track makes this system an enjoyment for all.
There will be no shortage of places to pedal anytime soon, considering that the growth of the mountain biking scene, as well as local businesses, are supported by the Chamber of Commerce and City Council in combined efforts with other numerous affiliates.
The community support and involvement was pleasing to witness firsthand during conversations with locals, listening to plans of trail system growth and expansion, and encountering freshly built trails while passing ones under construction as well. Even with solid community support and obvious signs of recent trail activity, the lack of crowds on the trails was refreshing. It was as if we knew about this unbelievable secret spot that no one else did.
As soon as you left the dirt parking lots and motorized machinations behind, the effects of the surroundings were immediate. The boughs of the stately evergreens ever so subtly interrupted the sun's reaching beams, creating a diaphanous, glowing haze that permeated the entire forest, all the while, the only cacophony to reach your ears were the rhythmic hum of tires contacting dirt beneath you.
To sum it up in an unconventional dictionary, the definition under Whitefish, MT would read somewhere along the lines of "Leaves riders with earsplitting grins on their faces, feelings of euphoria, and the incredible urge to immediately go ride the trails again".
Projekt Roam was founded by husband and wife, Colt and Jessee Maule in 2010. It has been their mission to travel North America in search of places that celebrate the unparalleled beauty and freedom of not only the bike, but the terrain we ride as well. Plan your own trip to Whitefish, MT and check out more photos, film, and riding locations throughout North America at www.gravityrideguide.com
Thanks to our sponsors for some great product and to all of our new friends who have helped us out along the way, ride on.Words:
Jessee Maule Photos/Film:
Colt & Jessee Maule (Filmed August 2013)Riders:
Colt & Jessee Maule
For more work by Projekt Roam: projektroam.pinkbike.comwww.projektroam.comwww.gravityrideguide.com