Steamboat Bike Park will be closed again in summer 2022
Resort remains committed to bike park
A couple years ago, Chris Franges sold his downhill mountain bike. After multiple years of the Steamboat Bike Park being closed, he didn’t see a point in hanging on to the bike.
“It’s not feasible for me to travel to other places for me to downhill,” said Franges, an avid mountain biker and bike mechanic in Steamboat. “So, now I focus more on cross country riding since we don’t have the lift access to downhill trails anymore.”
Franges lives two blocks away from the resort and would frequently ride his bike over, take the lift up and make a few runs and be home by lunch.
The downhill trails at Steamboat Resort are closed in 2022 due to ongoing construction as part of the massive, multi-year, $200 million project known as Full Steam Ahead. The bottom part of the Wild Blue Gondola will be constructed from the base up to the Greenhorn Ranch area near Thunderhead Express. The presence of heavy equipment will keep the park closed all summer.
Loryn Duke, director of communications at Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., understands if the downhill mountain bike community feels frustrated or neglected.
“We hear them,” Duke said. “We remain committed to a bike park in the future. We invested in it because we know how passionate that community is and we want to provide that service.”
The Steamboat Bike Park has been fully closed two of the last three summers, with bikers having access below Christie Peak Express in the summer of 2019 and 2021. In 2020, the resort limited operations due to the pandemic and closed the bike park. A gondola has not serviced a fully open bike park since 2018.
Since Steamboat previewed its first three trails in 2011, the bike park hasn’t technically reached a decade of use, yet. When fully accessible, the Steamboat Bike Park, which was designed by Gravity Logic, has 40 miles of trails including the downhill-only trails.
“I don’t feel like we ever really experienced what we would consider its full potential,” Franges said. “It was always like, ‘hey we can do this.’ they never really gave it 100%.”
The City of Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Department manages the two downhill-only trails in Steamboat, NPR on Emerald Mountain and Spring Roll, which runs parallel to Spring Creek.
“I’m probably a little biased because we manage Emerald Mountain, but I would say off the top of my head, I really love NPR,” Carey said. “That’s definitely one of my favorites.”
There are also a few trails on Buffalo Pass that people generally use for downhill use, but they still have to be wary of potential hikers or other uphill users.
Without the bike park, the golf course or the mountain coaster, Steamboat Resort summer activities will be lesser this year as construction continues, but that won’t always be the case.
“We want to become a year-round resort and biking is a part of that and downhill biking is a part of that,” Duke said. “What I think is hard for people to understand is the resources that it takes and how that compares to the massive complexity of the construction we’ve had going on. Having trails available while heavy machinery is working doesn’t make sense. When you can’t have a gondola accessing it, there’s limitations. I can see how people don’t have faith in our bike park, but stick with us. Stay with us and we will have great trails in the future.”
The trails may all be on U.S. Forest Service land, but Steamboat Resort manages the property, which gives them the ability to close the bike park. However, the multi-use trails need further permission from the Forest Service. While construction continues around the mountain on Greenhorn Ranch and the installation of the lower leg of the Wild Blue Gondola, trails around the area will close intermittently. Duke suggests people refer to the Steamboat Resort app for up-to-date closures and information.
Shelby Reardon is the assistant editor at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach her, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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