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Back 40: Big Sky becoming mountain bike mecca



By Bayard Dominick
Explore Big Sky Contributor

Lone Mountain Land Company, the development arm of CrossHarbor Capital Partners – which owns Spanish Peaks Mountain Club and Moonlight Basin, and has the majority interest in the group that owns the Yellowstone Club – is joining up with local Big Sky organizations to help make Big Sky a true destination for mountain bikers.

In collaboration with Boyne Resorts and Big Sky Community Corp., LMLC is facilitating the construction of more than 30 miles of new mountain bike trails in the area between 2014 and 2015, with more to follow in the coming years.

LMLC and Boyne Resorts have hired Terraflow Trails, and together with BSCC, this team is creating a “village-to-village” trail experience, linking the Big Sky Mountain Village, the Meadow Village and Town Center, Spanish Peaks Mountain Club, and the Moonlight and Madison lodges.

Whitefish-based Terraflow is known for its stellar work on some of Montana’s most iconic trails, including the Whitefish Trail, a popular multi-use system surrounding the town of Whitefish. Terraflow has an exceptional reputation for understanding local issues and listening to viewpoints.

Terraflow will create trails that link to the existing trail network in Big Sky and also create additional opportunities for a wide range of users, including beginners. Two new trails – Otter Way and Otter Slide – now connect the Big Sky Mountain Village with Moonlight Lodge. The new Mountain to Meadow trail will also link into Big Sky’s existing trail network.

Otter Way is a two-mile trail that connects the Big Sky Mountain Village with Moonlight Lodge and is a cross-country flow trail appropriate for hikers, runners, and intermediate mountain bikers. As much fun to ride up as it is down, Otter Way features modest berms, and plenty of rolling grade through a secluded forest, and few sustained climbs.

Otter Slide is a 1.5-mile trail also linking the Moonlight Lodge to the Mountain Village, but it’s designed to be ridden downhill. Though there are many usage options for this trail, bikers love riding up Otter Way and down Otter Slide. And while it’s not a beginner trail, Otter Slide is a great introduction to gravity riding, with big berms and optional jumps.

A two-mile traverse, the Mountain to Meadow route starts just above the Mountain Village and traverses the steep north slopes of Andesite Mountain, across the Lone Moose saddle, and onto Flat Iron, where it connects to existing forest roads leading to Spanish Peaks Mountain Club. This trail features high mountain views and forgiving climbs.

Spanish Peaks Mountain Club added nine miles of new, private trails intended for use by Spanish Peaks homeowners and their guests. These new trails link Spanish Peaks neighborhoods to existing hiking trails around the golf course to Fish Camp on the South Fork of the Gallatin River.

This summer will bring the completion of the Mountain to Meadow Trail extension, adding three miles to link to the existing Autumn Trail, near the back of the Aspen Grove neighborhood. This new trail will have astounding views and will help provide true resort to meadow connectivity. Expect this route to become an icon of the Big Sky experience.

With the resurrection of Everett’s 8,800 restaurant and the reality of summer Ramcharger chairlift operations, Terraflow will be designing and constructing a “new school” mountain bike flow trail network off of Andesite Mountain over several years, providing a more forgiving option to the existing “old school” trails off of the Swiftcurrent chair.

For locals that remember the Andesite trails from a few years ago, some of those trails may be integrated into the new network, but most will be newly constructed. One of the first trails to be built off of Andesite will be an east-facing route leading down to the Mountain to Meadow trail, which will create a truly epic way to finish the day, descending more than 2,000 vertical feet to the Town Center. Another near-term goal is a top-to-bottom, intermediate-level flow trail down to the Mountain Village, giving riders a non-stop berm and roller experience with close-up views of Lone Mountain.

Moonlight Basin also plans a new, six-mile trail network to link Moonlight Lodge to Ulery’s Lake and Lee’s Pool. A beginner-friendly route is planned between the lodge and Big Sky Mountain Village as well. These trails will give beginning riders more options and will also give Moonlight Basin residents true doorstep trail access.

LMLC, together with Terraflow, knows the new trails are just the beginning of a multi-year commitment to expand and develop the trail network in Big Sky. These exciting changes will help make Big Sky one of the most sought after summer trail destinations in the Rocky Mountains.

Bayard Dominick moved to Big Sky in June 2013 and has been a development manager for 19 years. He has extensive experience in financial analysis, deal structure, project design and strategy, and launching new residential products.

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