STEVENS PASS — The Stevens Pass Ski Area expects to begin construction of a mountain bike park and trail system this summer after the U.S. Forest Service announced Tuesday it has approved the project.
The Forest Service’s approval culminates a five-year effort to get the first chair lift-serviced mountain bike park built in the state.
The closest facility now is located in Whistler, B.C.
“This is fabulous news,” said Matt Rose of Wenatchee, a board member of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance. “A lot of good friends of mine worked very hard to make this happen and they deserved to see it through.”
Starting Tuesday, the clock starts ticking on a 45-day appeal period. Stevens Pass plans to break ground immediately thereafter.
“As soon as we can start moving dirt, we will,” said Joel Martinez, director of operations at the ski area, located 30 miles west of Leavenworth. “It’s a big step for us to have the Forest Service say they’re all good on their end. We’re super-excited.”
The plan for the park includes seven miles of downhill biking trails that will originate just south of the Granite Peaks ski lodge. Trails will be between five- and eight-feet wide with natural berms and jumps. The trails will be reached by one of the same lifts used by skiers during the winter months. On one seat will be a bike and on the other will be a rider.
“Right now people are riding on lots of back-door trails and jumps that people put together themselves,” said Dwayne McMahon, owner of Der Sportsmann, a Leavenworth outdoors store that caters to mountain bikers. “This will be well done and as safe as it can be done. This area has been lacking trails that these bikes are meant to be ridden on.”
The park will be designed by Gravity Logic, the team that built the hugely successful Whistler Mountain Bike Park. The involvement of Gravity Logic is viewed as a nod to the growing mountain biking community in this area.
“We know it will be comparable to Whistler in quality, if not size,” Rose said. “That’s why we went to Gravity Logic for design. We were basically telling Stevens Pass and the Forest Service, ‘Don’t screw this thing up. If you’re going to do it, do it right. Make it professional and state-of-the-art.’”
Both Rose and McMahon pointed to the attempt by The Summit at Snoqualmie to incorporate mountain biking into the resort in the late 1990s.
“It was open for three or four years, but it was very poorly constructed,” Rose said. “There would have been more participation there if it was constructed better.”
Rose praised the Forest Service for its oversight.
“Public response to this proposal was mostly supportive,” said Sean Wetterberg, winter sports and special uses specialist for the Forest Service in Everett. “The development of a bike park will provide a great recreation opportunity up at the pass.”
Brian Adamowsky: 664-7157