Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Ski areas turn sights to summer

| June 1, 2023 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — As the snow slowly disappears from the mountains, area ski resorts are turning their attention to summer's fun.

Eleven Idaho ski areas — including Schweitzer — offer summertime mountain biking and a host of summer activities. Many are debuting new trails this season, and a large number offer lift service throughout the summer.

The lifts kick into gear at Schweitzer on June 16 — as they will at Brundage Mountain, Grand Targhee and Tamarack resorts. Bogus Basin launches its summer season on June 23, and Pomerelle Mountain and Sun Valley will begin summer operations on July 1. Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area has not announced an opening date, but it will not offer lift-served mountain biking this summer, officials said.

Summer at Schweitzer runs from June 16 to Sept. 4 this year, with the resort maintaining more than 40 miles of mountain bike trails and offering a two-hour hosted e-bike tour daily.

The resort also offers a nine-hole disc golf course at the summit — as well as scenic chairlift rides on the Great Escape Quad to get there. Both serve up breathtaking views of Lake Pend Oreille and the Selkirk and Cabinet mountain ranges.

Other summer activities include hiking and trail running, geocaching, bungee trampolines, a 25-foot climbing wall, gold panning, huckleberry picking, and horseback riding.

Community Day is scheduled for June 18, with $10 lift tickets and 100 percent of the proceeds going to Bonner County Human Rights Task Force. Race the Wolf returns June 24-25 with four different trail races all over the mountain.

The Northwest Winefest at Schweitzer is slated for July 15-16, with upward of 80 wines from 20 different Pacific Northwest wineries. Fall Fest returns Sept. 1-4, offering four days of beer tasting, 10 bands, and more than 80 different beers, ciders, seltzers, and even a handful of wines over Labor Day weekend.

The Route of the Hiawatha, which Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area operates under a special-use permit from the U.S. Forest Service, opened May 26. The family-friendly bike trail celebrated its 25th anniversary last summer and will operate seven days a week through Sept. 17.

Close to the historic town of Wallace, the 15-mile trail's gentle 1.6-percent to 2-percent, all-downhill ride straddles the Idaho-Montana state line, delves 10 tunnels, crosses seven sky-high train trestles, and attracts just under 70,000 riders each summer.

Meanwhile, Lookout Pass will offer scenic chairlift rides but will not offer lift-served mountain biking this summer. Its five woodland hiking trails and the mountain summit nine-hole frisbee golf course will remain open.

Lookout Pass will operate Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays through Labor Day, Sept. 4, but the ski area has not announced an opening date yet.

In nearby Kellogg, Silver Mountain Resort began summer weekend operations — which include mountain biking and scenic rides on North America's longest gondola — May 27-29. Daily operations commence June 16 and run through Labor Day, Sept. 4, followed by weekend operations through Oct. 1.

Activities at Silver Mountain include its indoor waterpark, trail hiking and running, and the resort's exquisite nine-hole Galena Ridge Golf Course is tucked away in the mountains of the Silver Valley. Plus, its e-bike rental fleet allows guests to explore sections of the nearby Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes.

As usual, Silver Mountain's calendar is jam-packed with events this summer, including the North American Enduro Cup June 16-18, and the Silver Kings Hard Enduro, June 23-24.