Lift Accessed Mountain Biking in the Midwest

Jul 28, 2013 at 12:44
by Higher Base Media  
I live in the midwest. We don't have mountains. We don't have the lush green coastal rain forests of British Columbia. We don't have thousands of vertical feet to take advantage of. However, we do have some amazing mountain biking.

More specifically, I live in Duluth, Minnesota. Our local ski hill, Spirit Mountain, decided last year that they were going to commit to building a mountain bike park. After one summer of building we have two trails and the lifts are running Thursday through Sunday every week. As you are reading this, Flowline Trail Design is working on adding another trail to the hill. The master plan calls for 10+ trails that will range from beginner to double black diamond.

This is a video of the trail Candyland, which was built by IMBA Trail Solutions. It is a beginner trail, but it is fun for any level of rider.

Views: 7,389    Faves: 12    Comments: 3


We also have a more advanced trail named Smorgasbord. This trail is perfect for newer riders looking to bring their riding up to the next level and start hitting larger features at higher speeds. Also, this is where the more advanced riders can go and push themselves a bit more than on Candyland.

Views: 5,146    Faves: 16    Comments: 5


There are other bike parks popping up in the midwest as well, such as The Rock Sports Complex, which is located just south of Milwaukee in Wisconsin. The Rock Sports Complex hired Gravity Logic, (if you are a mountain biker they should need no introduction) who has built some of the greatest bike parks and trails in the world, to come build their bike park.

Training the berms

This is big news for those of us living in the midwest. Up until now we had to travel quite a ways to be able to ride a lift accessed bike park. I have already met multiple riders from all over the country riding at Spirit Mountain. Teton Gravity Research has even listed Spirit Mountain as one of the top bike parks worth visiting!

Dave riding one of the many berms on Candyland at Spirit Mountain

Just like any other rider out there, I would love to live in Whistler and ride the greatest mountain bike park in the world every day, but now that we are getting our own lift access right here in the Midwest, I can ride a little bit closer to home!

www.spiritmt.com


65 Comments

  • 8 0
 Since I've not been out of the midwest yet, I can't compare riding to elsewhere, but The Rock is pretty darn awesome, lots of trails for all abilities. The lines there include jumps, wall rides, rollers, step-ups/downs, a little bit of everything. Plus there's XC trails, a BMX course in progress and pump track in progress.

Considering that Wisconsin is known mostly for our XC racing and XC Marathon racing, it's nice to have some commitment to other types of riding. Personally, after I started riding more AM/DH style trails it's made me want to ride more places that I hadn't considered before. Which means more tourism dollars for you folks in other parts of the country!
  • 5 0
 I live in one of those states with mtns &plenty of vert, but that 2nd trail looks like more fun than my local stuff! Awesome flow...
some of the most fun trails I've ridden have been on terrain with little elevation loss/gain, rollers and such. could be worse, you could live in Indiana, ha!
  • 8 0
 I live in Indiana(northeast) so don't remind me. I'm surrounded by nothing but corn and soy bean fields.
  • 1 0
 That blows migo, l totally understand.
  • 2 0
 You could do worse than Indiana. Brown County, Versailles, and Rangeline are all worthwhile in the Indianapolis area, of what little I've ridden there.
  • 2 0
 @migo2098 have you ever seen the movie life cycles? Some pretty wicked things you can do with corn fields!
  • 2 0
 @Maxwell Yes I have seen Life Cycles(great bike movie). But I don't know anyone willing to let me build dirt jumps through their field.
  • 1 0
 Lolololol, well said! You should just go into a field and start building and be like, i didn't know these were here?
  • 3 0
 looks fun. glad to see more in the Midwest! living in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan, we only have the boyne's . highlands has an ok park with about 650ft vert.. mountain only has 2 trails and no park. we need more!!!! hoping to get a copper mountain trip in this season
  • 2 0
 copper doesnt have a bike park. But they do have camps and areas within 20 mins that have plenty to offer.
  • 1 0
 Highlands has some great trails. Skip Boyne Mountain and keep driving. It's not on par with the rock, or whistler but for Northern Lower Michigan its solid. Lifts run daily and they do bike rentals. The XC trails are accessed off the lift and offer a solid technical mix and plenty of downhill for all mountain riders.
  • 1 0
 Know its kinda late but copper does have some great trails including a few downhill and jump runs, can also get a shuttle pass.
  • 3 0
 Going to be fun to watch Duluth and the north shore of minnesota develop over the next 5-10 years. Might not be mountains, but there's great potential in them thar hills. Lutsen needs to step up, wouldn't mind seeing a place close to the twin cities fire up some lifts as well. Seems to me like Welch Village would be a great spot, plenty of green in between there ski trails.
  • 7 0
 I ONLY RIDE PARK!!!
  • 2 0
 Awesome, beat me to it.
  • 3 12
flag silentjdeadly (Aug 1, 2013 at 12:48) (Below Threshold)
 Fun and all but seems a bit pussy
  • 4 0
 It is coming along, the master plan has 13 runs total and right now the two runs they have are green and blue, and flow line trail design is there building another green and a black run, there is a lot of potential for this place. Can't wait to see it develop
  • 4 1
 Chill out silent. Just the fact that it says 'lift access' and 'midwest' in the same sentence is a feat in and of itself. That way they can do THIRTY LAPS A DAY.
  • 5 1
 Spirit mountain is working with roughly 750ft of vertical loss but most of the others are only around 300ft but it is still fun and something different! We will never be CO, OR, WA or BC but at least we all don't have to settle for XC. We are also building a 3 acre bike park In Cottage Grove MN that will have a 4x course, Dirt jumps, pump tracks and MTB skills course
www.facebook.com/pages/Cottage-Grove-Bike-Park/596908407004866
  • 3 5
 But I can do thirty laps a day with no problem, i don't see why small jumps would be any easier than big jumps
  • 4 0
 Haha I have to say I agree. In no way is that a bad thing looks like tons of fun... for any level. It's especially awesome to see this in a part of the country not famous for MTB!
  • 2 0
 awesome post wyatt! Great to see this place get press, and yes I agree the potential is there for sure, and the 2 runs there are great so far! Going there this weekend matter of fact.
  • 2 0
 All I wanna do now is go to spirit, been making the 2.5hr drive as often as funds allow
  • 3 0
 I have been working hard to try and get the word out and it finally paid off man! So stoked to see how the hill will grow!
  • 1 0
 The Rock is definitely a pretty sweet place to ride for Wisconsin. It feels like someone cut out a minute and a half worth of trail from Winter Park and moved it here. Runs are short but really flowy and fun. And the best part is you don't have to pedal back to the top!
  • 5 0
 I like the "No hiking" sign.
  • 1 0
 You don't need a lot of vert to have a good bike park. MN could have parks like Valmont all over the place if they wanted. Embrace what you have. DH is fun and all but flowing on Big DJs and slopestyle lines is where it's at IMO.
  • 2 0
 The midwest often gets forgotten in the ongoing west coast/east coast debate. As an east coaster, all other east coasters should calm down we have it pretty darn good compared to areas like this.
  • 1 0
 Looks fun! NE KS and NW MO have some pretty rocky rooty trails that are fun and flowey as well. Speaking of low elevation swooopy whoopy trails, Lawrence,KS River trail is about 9 miles of that that is just a darn blast to ride. Anyone could ride it! However I'm putting this place on my list to visit in the future.
  • 1 0
 Heck Ya! rode up there a few weeks ago. The trails are well built with great flow and more trails are being built as we speak! can't wait to get up there again. Keep it coming Spirit!!
  • 1 0
 Is this the only post where only Americans have posted comments? the midwest is waaaay down on the scale. Awesome trails in MN!

comming from IL, now in KS; i'm halfway to my final destination- the north west.
  • 1 0
 Does anyone know if Mnt Crescent in western Iowa ever got something going. I heard once that it was open to bikes during the summer but they have piss poor customer service so who knows.
  • 1 0
 I go to school in Ames and I haven't heard of anything. If anyone is In Iowa hit me up!
  • 1 0
 Spirit Mtn. was my home for an entire summer in 2004, that place will always be something special. I hope all you folks in MN take advantage an go shred. Way to go Spirit Mnt!
  • 1 0
 I'm going to be traveling to the Midwest this fall trying to only bring one bike with me trying to ride up at spirit one weekend could I get away with ridin my p slope or would it be worth bringing my demo or sx trail??
  • 1 0
 Dude p slope would be perrrfect. I ride my slope build and love it!
  • 1 2
 Awesome! I wouldn't mind having that near where I live!

Although the "double black diamond" claim seems a bit dubious. Everything on the video is wheelchair and segway accessible. It's great looking beginner slopestyle. Perhaps there are a few 10+ foot drops somewhere that could be considered double black diamond... ?
  • 2 0
 dfiler, the double blacks haven't been built yet. Right now it is just beginner and an intermediate trails.

Another helmet run of Smorgasbord www.youtube.com/watch?v=b58gT7U3yJ0
  • 3 0
 Somorgasbord looks way fun to ride! Those guys were ripping it properly.
  • 2 0
 if anyone wants to shred in MI let me know!! located in howell!! cant wait to travel to WI and MN to shred again
  • 2 0
 I'm in A2, we should. I do get out to Boyne, UP, and East Coast to ride as well.
  • 2 0
 awesome guys! sick to see people making the most of the terrain.
  • 1 0
 Its awesome to see this kind of riding coming to the Midwest, makes me a little less bummed I left California!
  • 1 0
 Bike parks , beer , food , and hot chicks is all thats needed in life . Good to see more parks coming out !
  • 1 0
 I will be up in Portland the end of sept, and want to ride any ideas where? Or if anyone wants to show me??
  • 3 0
 Sandy ridge and post canyon!
  • 1 0
 Want to go ride? Sept 27-29th?
  • 1 0
 Look into Blackrock. It is about an hour and 45 out of Portland, but pretty much all the good riding is an hour outside of Portland anyway (including Sandy Ridge and Post Canyon, which are, indeed, awesome).
  • 1 0
 Are we talking bout shuttle run rides or park and go kind of trails here, I don't mind either
  • 1 0
 They are all park and go unless there happens to be a shuttle day when you are in town. I think Mt. Hood Ski Bowl has a lift assisted downhill trail, but I've never ridden there. There was some race there within the past few weeks and a story about it on PB.
  • 1 0
 sweet thanks guys
  • 1 0
 Looks fun. Reminds me of Duthie Hill in Seattle where there's not a lot of vert but they've made it work anyway.
  • 2 0
 love this place. Awesome spot
  • 1 0
 Does anyone know what happened to chestnut mtn? They were supposed to have some downhill as well
  • 1 0
 Will be making another revised edit soon. This will be on the Rocks website as well

m.pinkbike.com/video/322197
  • 1 0
 broke my hand the second day the rock bike park was open. Im jonesing for a ride...bad
  • 1 0
 Looks really cool. Congrats on not whining, and getting out and making it happen. Nice looking lines too.
  • 2 0
 So cool! Nebraska still sucks.
  • 3 0
 Man, gettin some love!
  • 1 0
 Hell yeah! Spirit is awesome. Hopefully more places in the midwest take notice.
  • 3 0
 Minnesota Nice!
  • 1 0
 I skied down smorgasbord this last winter haha, definitely looks like more fun in the summer
  • 2 0
 Wow, those are really well built trails!
  • 1 0
 Check out and like La Crosse Freeride Group on Facebook!

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