BIG BEAR LAKE - Business kicks into high gear Friday at Snow Summit with its bike park trails taking over from the resort’s ski runs.
Southern California’s only mountain bike park served by a chair lift, Snow Summit Bike Park is a popular destination for bikers and hikers, with about 1,200 bikers and hikers on a typical sell-out weekend, officials said.
Snow Summit Bike Park, 880 Summit Blvd., , follows Friday’s opening with a “kick-off to summer” celebration on Saturday. Mammoth Resorts, the new owner, is planning to install zip lines, a climbing wall, and expand trail offerings for mountain bikers.
“A lot of people really know Big Bear for the winter skiing and snowboarding and that’s an awesome season for us,” said Chris Riddle, vice president of marketing for Big Bear Mountain Resorts, “but what a lot of people don’t know is that summer season is just as big and there’s lots of opportunities up here at Snow Summit and around the valley itself.”
Riddle said Snow Summit offers bikers and hikers a scenic sky chair ride taking them to an elevation of 8,200 feet to the top of the mountain with views of the Big Bear Valley, the lake and the surrounding mountains.
“We offer hiking from the top, we offer mountain biking, and it’s really a great spot to come and spend a few hours or a quick trip up and back,” Riddle said.
Trail expansion plans at Snow Summit Bike Park are also well underway, with construction on a much-anticipated “Going Green trail,” for beginners likely to begin by Memorial Day, officials said.
The trail is a gentle 1,200-vertical-foot descent, aimed for beginner to intermediate bike riders, and running from the top of the all-mountain express lift to the base area near the front of the bike park.
“That’s a beginner, gravity-oriented trail, so you don’t have to peddle,” said Ryan Wormsbecker, who was helping to build a bike dirt track at the base of Snow Summit. “You take your bike up to the top, and a beginner first-time mountain biker can ride down the mountain at a 6 percent grade nice and mellow, and meander throughout the forest, all their way back to the chair lift. That trail alone is 5 miles long.”
Park officials also plan to build a circular zip-line and climbing wall at the base of the park, near the dirt bike track. The hope is to get the new base area amenities up and running by July, Riddle said.
“We’re going to have a really cool web of zip lines that go in a giant circle and bring you back to where you started,” said Wormsbecker. “It’s going to be unreal. On top of that, Mammoth provided us with new (bike carrying chair lift) trays. That’s going to keep our lift lines way short and get everyone to the top.”
Professional mountain biker Craig Harvey, 37, of Big Bear City has been mountain biking in the area for 14 years.
“The trail crew at Snow Summit, they do a great job with the features and maintaining the track for the bike park, and they constantly make improvements,” Harvey said. “For me, I like the way the trails are built and how easily accessible they are from the chair lifts at the Snow Summit bike park. I can do laps all day on the trails and really enjoy myself for the whole day.”
Near the front of the park is the Chains Required Bike Shop, owned by life-long resident Jack Bailey.
“I think everyone’s excited to see what (Mammoth Resorts) is going to bring to the table,” Bailey said. “There’s been a lot of talk about what they’re going to do and the more they do to bring tourists up here, the more it’s going to help our business.”
This year marks Snow Summit’s third year of operating the resort as a bike park for the summer. Bailey said business has picked up since then by 10 percent to 12 percent.
“I think business has gone up because the park rider is spending a little bit more money,” Bailey said. “The bikes are more expensive, the repairs are more expensive. The gear they’re using is more intense than a normal rider would ride. So it’s been an increase, just because of the type of equipment those guys are using.”
Snow Summit Bike Park will start the season with a Friday-through-Sunday operation through June 19. Then it will be open daily through Labor Day Weekend.
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