Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Public can comment on Baldy biking

More than 17 miles of new trails proposed


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Mountain bikers and other interested parties have the chance to officially comment on a plan by Sun Valley Co. to build roughly 17 new miles of mountain biking trails on Bald Mountain.

The plan was unofficially introduced by Sun Valley Co. in May when the resort’s mountain projects manager, Julian Tyo, hosted a meeting to discuss the company’s plans.

Tyo said the project would include 17 miles of new downhill mountain biking trails for all skill levels from beginning to expert. The idea, he said, is to create a “ski season for summertime” and take advantage of the existing enthusiasm for biking.

According to the public scoping document for the project, 2.4 miles of hiking trails would be built in addition to the biking trails. The downhill biking trails would include novice and intermediate trails near the top, while more expert trails would run the length of the mountain.

More than 3.5 miles of hiking trails would be taken from the River Run and Broadway trails and re-designated for bikers only. However, the Bald Mountain Trail—which Tyo said is the most popular hiking trail on Baldy—will be maintained. 

The scoping document states that no changes are proposed to that trail, which connects River Run to the Roundhouse restaurant and the top of the ski area. No changes are proposed to the Bald Mountain Perimeter Trail or the River Run to Warm Springs Traverse trail.

The novice and intermediate biking trails would be accessed by taking the Roundhouse gondola and the Christmas chairift to the top of the mountain, while more advanced bikers can take one of two climbing uphill trails to the top.

Tyo said the ratio of trail difficulty would be 35 percent novice, 58 percent intermediate and 7 percent expert.

All trails would feature banked turns and switchbacks for easier maneuvering, and would avoid ski runs, snowmaking lines and crossovers with existing trails.

Like a ski season, the bike season would include lift access passes and bike patrol. Tyo said the resort even plans to keep track of “biker days” as it does skier days to track the season’s success.

The trails would take four to six years to complete, according to the scoping document, and would be constructed in order of priority. If approved, three trails are set to be built in the first nine weeks of summer 2013.

The first trail would be a 1.2-mile hiking and uphill-only biking trail on a 9 percent grade. The second and third trails would comprise 5.8 miles of bike flow trails, which are downhill-only bike trails with features such as “rollers,” or rises that allow fast-moving bikers to lift off at the high point before the descent, as well as banked turns and rock obstacles.

Tyo said the Forbidden Fruit trail north of Ketchum and the Punchline Trail in Croy Canyon near Hailey are similar to what a biker might eventually find on Baldy—but the Baldy trails would be much longer.

The public comment period will be open until Nov. 16. The entire scoping document is available at the Ketchum Ranger District on Sun Valley Road. Comments should be sent to Ketchum Ranger District, Box 2356, Ketchum, ID 83340, Attn: Bald Mountain Summer Trail Proposal. Comments may also be emailed to comments-intermtn-sawtooth-ketchum@fs.fed.us.

Kate Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com

 

 

 




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