Sun Valley Resort on Two Wheels

One of my favorite ways to explore Sun Valley during the summertime is on two wheels. With over 400 miles of gorgeous single-track trails spread throughout the valley, whether it’s a quick 1-hour ride in the evening, or an all-day mission, the sheer variety of riding opportunities here in Sun Valley is incredible. Ranging from cruisy beginner-friendly loops to heart-in-your-mouth expert-only downhill descents, and everything in between, along with 30-miles of paved bike paths, and numerous gravel and dirt roads to ride, the possibilities are endless.

For first time visitors and riders, using the Sun Valley Resort as your home base works really well, as it is not only centrally located, but also right at the edge of some incredible wilderness areas to explore by bike. From Pete Lane’s, the resort’s full service bike shop, there are three general options for your Sun Valley choose-your-own-adventure biking experience.

The first, and easiest, option is to jump on your bike and head west across Sun Valley Road, where you’ll find the paved Trail Creek Path. This mellow, wide, and smooth 1-mile path leads you away from the resort towards Trail Creek Summit, past the Sun Valley Golf Course on one side and the Sun valley Gun Club on the other. Keep your eyes peeled for the Hemmingway Memorial, located about ½-mile from the resort along the banks of Trail Creek. The paved bike path ends at the Trail Creek Campground and from there you can either keep going all the way up the steep and winding Trail Creek Pass, head out Corral Creek towards one of the numerous single-track trails, or turn around and head back to the resort. If you take the Trail Creek Bike Path towards the town of Ketchum, where it merges with the Wood River Trail system (that will take you all the way South to Bellevue or West out Warm Springs Canyon), or ride up and over Saddle Hill towards Highway 75 and then head North to all the amazing single-track in the Adam’s Gulch, Hulen Meadows, and Lake Creek trail systems. You can also ride past the resort towards Elkhorn along Dollar Road, where the bike path will take you to Carol’s Lodge at Dollar Mountain, before going over the hill and down into Elkhorn Village.

The second option is for those who want to get a little dirt under their tires and a good introduction into Mountain Biking in Sun Valley. Directly across Sun Valley Road from the resort, the White Cloud Trail system is a beginner and family’s dream. The leisurely single-track trails wind up and around the White Cloud Golf Course, offering beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, including Bald Mountain, the town of Ketchum, and Sun Valley resort. Full of wildflowers in the summer, start with the quick Valley View Loop before venturing further out on the White Cloud Trail, which joins up with the Trail Creek Path near the Sun Valley Clubhouse.

The third option is for experienced riders who want to test themselves and their skills on Bald Mountain’s 3,100 vertical feet of Mountain Bike specific downhill and cross-country trails. Varying between one and seven miles in length, the majority of these trails require an intermediate skill level at the very least, while a couple, like the intense and rowdy Pale Rider Trail, should only be ridden by experts.

The Gondola and Christmas High-Speed Quad will be open Thursday—Monday all summer long to ferry riders and their bikes up Baldy. Riding the lifts offer bikers easy access to the stunning 360-degree views from the top of Bald Mountain, along with some of the mellower trails on Baldy like Broadway Trail and Lupine Trail. While rated on the easier side of Baldy’s trails, these fast and flowing traverses still contain numerous banked turns and even some optional airtime. Before tackling Pale Rider, consider testing your mettle on Saddle Up, a 2.5-mile downhill trail that starts at the top of Bald Mountain and is stacked with large jumps and steep berms. If you’re looking to maximize airtime, Mindbender Trail has some of the biggest jumps in the entire valley. At the end of this section, you can choose to take the easier River Run Trail back down to the Gondola or attack the steep, technical and fast Pale Rider—with its combination of natural elements, and man-made jumps, and drops with plenty of rough rocky sections, it definitely packs a punch. 

As always, if you’re looking to get the most out of your time on two-wheels in Sun Valley, consider hiring a local guide to help show you around the area for a couple of days. While most of the trails are well marked, there’s no substitute for local knowledge when it comes to finding the best conditions and matching your personal skill level with the perfect trail.

Words by Kitt Doucette

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