Tahoe’s Northstar Bike Park opening epic terrain for summer season | SierraSun.com

Tahoe’s Northstar Bike Park opening epic terrain for summer season

TRUCKEE, Calif. — After Northstar California shuts down its slopes for the ski season, it's not long until recreationalists are back on the mountain, zipping down the resort's vast terrain.

Instead of being strapped onto skis and snowboards, however, these riders are mounted on mountain bikes.

The Truckee-Tahoe resort will see its mountain spring back to life this Memorial Day weekend when the Northstar Bike Park opens its expansive lift-access mountain bike track and trails for the summer season.

Northstar Bike Park will open Friday — with mid-to-base descents available through the Big Springs Gondola and Village Express — and continue operation through Monday in honor of Memorial Day.

First opening in 1999, Northstar Bike Park started off as biking terrain with steep, rough-cut trails carved into the mountainside.

Sixteen years later, it's grown into "the largest lift-served bike park on the West Coast," said Cass Walker, communications coordinator at Northstar.

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Indeed, the vast bike park offers jump trails for those looking to catch air, freeride trails for advanced riders, and smoother trails for beginners.

"It offers a vast array of terrain for all levels of riders, from green to double diamond trails," Walker said. "The bike teams are always brainstorming innovative upgrades up to five years in advance, ensuring that Northstar's park will continue to expand using modern building standards and techniques."

And, of course, all while maintaining its steep downhill-inspired tracks, Walker said.

"For example," she added, "the Gypsy trail was built quite steeply and subterranean, and has since been rebuilt top-to-bottom over the years, adding 12 wood features."

Specialized Bike Academy

New this year, Northstar Bike Park has partnered with Specialized — a major bicycle company based in Morgan Hill, Calif. — to offer the aptly named Specialized Bike Academy.

The academy, Walker said, offers premium freeride mountain bike lessons on world-class Specialized equipment.

"Similar to the Burton Academy during our winter season, the Specialized Academy exists to help riders take their bike skills to the next level using top-of-the-line equipment and world-class instructors," Walker said.

Northstar will offer lesson plans for bike enthusiasts of all ability levels, including special, women-specific and youth-specific lessons and clinics, Walker added.

Northstar Bike Park will operate Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The park will then open seven days a week beginning Friday, June 24, with Friday evening hours extending to 7 p.m.

Additionally, the Free-Ride Unlimited Pass is available for summer 2016 starting at $369, which includes unlimited summer mountain bike access to Lake Tahoe's Northstar California and Kirkwood Mountain Resort, as well as Vail Mountain and Keystone Resort in Colorado, and Canyons in Park City, Utah.

If you go

What: Northstar Bike Park opening weekend

Where: Northstar California

When: Friday-Monday, May 27-30

Cost: $39 adult ($29 after 2 p.m.); $25 kids age 9-12. (Discounted lift ticket prices due to snow levels on the upper portion of the mountain.)

Online: northstarcalifornia.com