Fall Mountain Biking Adventures in IdahoPosted by David Young, Contributor | 09.23.2022
By the end of August, I am more than ready for fall. There’s no better way to ring in the cool fall temperatures and changing leaves than a mountain bike trip. While I often head to Fruita or Moab for some fall mountain biking fun, this year I decided to try something new in Idaho. Idaho is full of fantastic mountain biking; for this trip, I decided to check out Schweitzer Mountain, north of Coeur d’ Alene near Sandpoint. Known for its skiing in the winter, during the summer and fall months Schweitzer offers some amazing mountain biking opportunities and scenic trails.
Similar to mountain resorts such as Whistler or Winter Park, Schweitzer’s ski runs transform into mountain bike trails in the warmer months, offering 40 miles of riding with scenic views. Unlike some of the bigger mountain bike parks that offer a number of jumps and features, Schweitzer is mainly composed of trails and bridges. I drove my truck with my Specialized Mountain bike in tow from Fort Collins up to Idaho. The road trip through scenic Wyoming and Jackson Hole areas was half of the fun of this trip.
Once we arrived we stayed on the mountain at the brand new Humbird Hotel, which offers a convenient state-of-the-art place to eat and rest. Attached to the hotel is a great restaurant and bar, and there is a rooftop hot tub to soak those sore muscles after a long ride.
If you don’t bring a bike, bike rentals are available. You can check the trail conditions here. Schweitzer has a mix of riding for all types. From rocky downhill to cross-country, there is plenty of varied terrain for everyone. For beginners, there are some great trails with 1,700 feet of vertical off of the Great Escape Quad down to the Schweitzer Village.
Downhill trails are marked by intermediate and expert options. No matter where you go, mountain biking in Idaho is characterized by lots of rocks and fine dusty dirt. Here are five trails to try riding at Schweitzer:
Lower Basin XC -
While there are not a ton of green trails, or easy runs, on the mountain for mountain biking in the summer, Schweitzer does offer an array of cross-country trails that do not require lift service to ride. These trails are lower on the mountain and snake through the dense trees and foliage. The Lower Basin XC trail is one of the more popular trails for beginners to ride on the mountain. This is a fun and flowy singletrack trail that extends for about a mile and a half. The top portion of this trail includes some nice switchback berms.
Progressing to a blue trail that is still a good break-in ride for more of a beginner, Overland offers a double-track ride to help get used to the terrain. This trail is a little over 4 miles long and loops around the edge of the mountain with 700 feet of climbing. You can ride it in either direction and there are some other trails off it that you can connect to if you decide to switch it up.
Bear Grass -
Bear Grass is a blue, or intermediate trail, that takes riders from the top of the mountain via the lift to the base. It is one of the more popular trails on the mountain and provides a downhill-only rocky ride. The entire trail extends close to 4 miles and offers more than 1,400 vertical feet in descent. There are several spur trails you can take off of this main run, that mellow a bit towards the bottom and offer several jumps.
Huckleberry Hill -
This trail is a black diamond and while shorter offers nearly 200 feet of vertical downhill. The varied trail is named after a regional treat - huckleberries. Keep a sharp eye out while riding and you may just spot some fresh huckleberries that are prime for picking. You can access this trail via the lift and it starts off of the Overland trail. It may be a short ride, but it is a good introduction to some of the more technical trails on the mountain.
This is one of the more popular black diamond trails at Schweitzer — and with good reason. The run off of the lift provides more than 3,500 vertical descent. This is a downhill-only trail with some bumps and berms to keep you on your toes. If you are wanting to tackle some classic downhill terrain, this is a great trail to check out.
So there you have it — five trails to check out when mountain biking at Schweitzer Mountain. There are plenty of other trails and mountains to check out in the region as well if you have the time. From Silver Mountain to Lookout Pass, Idaho has some great under-the-radar fall mountain biking options to visit if you’re looking for some new terrain to explore.