Dust off those 5 10's and whiff-check that body armor. Spring dirt season is coming early. A record number of bike parks will open in April and May giving gravity riders more than a score of options for early-season laps. Several lift-serviced resorts in the Northwest and British Columbia, where the scant snowpack kept skiers and boarders off the slopes, have pushed up opening dates for mountain bike operations. On the east coast, Old Man Winter pummeled the hillsides, but the berms are in full bloom. If you're obsessing over the prospect of fresh dirt and a stoke-worthy chair ride or shuttle, check out these options for spring.
Coast Gravity Park, Sechelt, BC | Open
Photo courtesy of Coast Gravity Park.
Jonesing to ride now? Hop a ferry to British Columbia's Sunshine Coast where Coast Gravity Park awaits. Shuttle-serviced and operational year round, Coast Gravity Park rests in the lowlands under forest canopy. The winter season was fantastic, according to Jeff James, operations manager for Coast Gravity. "We were running at 90 to 100 percent capacity," said James. The park limits daily ridership to 100, but James expects to double that capacity this summer by modifying trailers to shuttle up to 20 bikes at a time. Coast, which debuted in May 2014, added two new trails and a handbuilt line over the winter bringing the tally to 20. It has become a popular whistle stop for riders headed up to Whistler. The park runs on a Saturday-Sunday schedule and expands to seven days on Jun 29. Tickets: $50 (CAD). Season passes $1,499: (CAD). Advanced booking at least one day ahead required.
Highland Bike Park, Northfield, NH | April 30
Photo courtesy Highland Bike Park.
Looking to catch first chair of the 2015 bike season? New England's Highland Bike Park earns the distinction of first to open. Season pass holders have the privilege of riding on April 29, a day before the park opens to the general public. Highland originated as a ski hill then transformed into a dedicated bike resort. Like other bike-only parks, Highland's gravity season is longer than that of a typical ski resort. Tickets: $42. Season passes: $379.
Whistler Mountain Bike Park, Whistler, BC | May 2
Photo by Robin O'Neil, courtesy Whistler Mountain Bike Park.
Mecca for disciples of downhill around the world, Whistler just announced its earliest opening day in a decade thanks to low snowfall and a recent rise in the mercury. The second half of April brought warmer temperatures in the valley, a boon to trail crews overhauling storm-ravaged terrain in the Fitzsimmons zone, Whistler's lowest zone. The higher Garbanzo and Peak zones are slated to open June 20 and June 27. Lifts will run seven days a week. Tickets: $57 (CAD). Season passes: $599 (CAD) through May 17.
Mountain Creek Bike Park, Vernon, NJ | May 2
Photo courtesy Mountain Creek Bike Park.
Like Highland, Mountain Creek opens early season and closes late. This Northern New Jersey resort boasts a six-month season of lift-serviced riding. Tickets: $43. Season passes: $320. MTBparks Pass Perks: One FREE day and 50% off return visits.
Snow Summit @ Big Bear Bike Park, Big Bear Lake, CA | May 8
Photo courtesy Big Bear Mountain Resorts.
Southern California's only lift-serviced bike park, Snow Summit, offers Friday through Sunday riding from May 8 to June 14. The resort switches to a seven-day schedule June 19. Tickets: $43. Season passes: $299.
Blue Mountain Bike Park, Palmerton, PA | May 9
Photo courtesy Blue Mountain Bike Park.
Plattekill Bike Park, Roxbury, NY | May 9
Photo by Matt Delorme.
Upstate in New York's Catskill Mountains lies a veteran in the downhill game. Plattekill, known for steep, rocky, technical lines, has been hauling up two-wheeled shredders since 1995. Recent additions include an easy flow trail from the top. Tickets: $35. Season passes: $299.
Angel Fire Bike Park, Angel Fire, NM | May 14
Photo courtesy Angel Fire Bike Park.
Like east coast resorts, Angel Fire in the Southern Rockies posted a record snow year and a strong ski season. Still, this southwest park with a massive trail network and an apex of 10,650 ft. isn't delaying the start of bike season as it transitions from snow to dirt.
Recent warm temperatures have helped to melt lingering white at the top. Hogan Koesis, Angel Fire's bike park director, just scouted the dirt and rode to 10,000 ft. With roughly 700 feet left to melt out over the coming weeks, Angel Fire aims to have all trails rideable when the bullwheel spins for bikers on May 14. Tickets: $40. Season passes: $269. MTBparks Pass Perks: One FREE day and 50% off return visits.
Bryce Bike Park, Basye, VA | May 16
Photo courtesy Bryce Mountain.
Nestled in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, Bryce enters its second season of mountain biking. The park has eight trails accessed by a quad chair. Lifts run on weekends only from May 16 to June 7, and five days a week starting June 8. Tickets: $34. Season passes: $225. MTBparks Pass Perks: One FREE day.
Bromont Mountain Bike Park, Bromont, Québec | May 16
Photo by Sébastien Larose, courtesy Ski Bromont.
A glimpse of Bromont's trail map with plenty of fall-line squiggles stokes serious wanderlust. The resort lies in the eastern province of Québec, 85 kilometers (53 miles) east of Montreal. The extensive network of trails features some easy lines, but much of the terrain caters to skilled and expert riders. Bromont has two zones; trails in Versant du Village open first, followed by those in Versant du Lac on May 23. Tickets: $40 (CAD). Season passes: $230 (CAD).
The Rock, Franklin, WI | May16
Photo courtesy Ryan Sullivan.
The original Wisconsin bike park, The Rock kicks off its third season of lift-biking. Located just north of Racine, Rock's network includes 10 trails and a skills park. Tickets: $27. Passes: $250. MTBparks Pass Perks: One FREE day.
Memorial Weekend Openings
Memorial Day weekend, the prologue to summer, is a big weekend for gravity riders with eleven parks opening May 22 or 23. Here's a quick rundown to aid in planning your long weekend.
- Blue Mountain, Ontario, Canada | May 22
- Northstar, Tahoe, CA | May 22
- Seven Springs, Seven Springs, PA | May 22
- Snowshoe, Snowshoe, WV| May 22
- Granby Ranch, Granby, CO | May 22
- Attitash, Attitash, NH | May 23
- Killington, Killington, VT | May 23
- Mount Snow, West Dover, VT | May 23
- Mt. Hood, Government Camp, OR | May 23
- Spirit Mountain, Duluth, MN | May 23
- Silver Mountain Bike Park, Kellogg, ID | May 23
by Nancy Kim