Mountain Biking Big Sky

Mountain Biking Big Sky

Orms, R. Kent
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If you’re looking to ride some different trails this summer, check out Big Sky. It has more accessible downhill runs and singletrack than anywhere in the region. While most of the terrain is for advanced riders, there are several trails for beginners, too. At Big Sky proper, people usually head up the mountain from Mountain Village via the South Access Road. The wide gravel road winds gently up at first, then steep through the switchbacks, finally meeting up with the gondola on top. For a less cardiovascular experience, you can pay $12 to have the gondola take you and your bike to the top or $20 for a whole day of it.

Once you’re at the top, there are numerous trails down and most snake in and out of each other, eventually winding back down to the village. Some of the more popular ways down are on Nameless Trail, the White Otter Trail, and Moose Tracks. Both great rides, Nameless Trail and Moose Tracks are around four miles long, with Nameless getting the nod as the more technical and steep of the two. Generally for experts, Nameless Trail is the site of the annual downhill race held by Grizzly Outfitters.

If you just want to view the scenery and not become part of it, head back down the South Access trail or the lower section of Moose Tracks for a fun, perhaps more mellow ride. The views are spectacular from just about any trail, so take some time to look around. A helmet is required on all trails at Big Sky, but if you’re not smart enough to wear one anyway… well that’s just natural selection at work.

There are plenty of great trails in the areas surrounding Big Sky as well. A topo is a sure way to find some great adventures exploring, but one of the best nearby trails is the North Fork Trail. Ride up the Beehive Basin trailhead (just north of Mountain Village) until you hit the North Fork Trail. Turn up this as it meanders over the ridge and then get ready for a long technical downhill. Nine miles of big chainring, teeth-chattering, I-might-not-walk-away-from-this-one downhill.

You’ll end up at Lone Mountain Ranch, or keep on riding to the golf course. Leave a car there or ride back up the steep West Fork Trail known locally as the Poop Chute. The North Fork trail is expert-only and has extensive and hairy technical descents where even skilled riders have watched their bike go sailing over the edge.

Big Sky trails generally open up around the first full week of June and won’t be affected much by weather all summer as it is DRY here. Watch for hikers and as you bounce nimble and light over the trail, feel pity for the guy stuck in his clumsy Yukon XL down below.
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