At the end of last summer, the crews at the newly-opened Mt. Bachelor downhill bike park heard a lot of different opinions. Some riders told them that Lava Flow Trail, the easiest sloping trail, was too fast. But other riders begged for something a bit more gnarly, and to turn up the challenges.
And, in response, this year, the second season for the increasingly popular downhill mountain bike runs at Mt. Bachelor, crews are hand-building a double-black-diamond trail this summer, and final sector construction of Last Chance Trail is expected to be complete by August 1. This brings a top-to-bottom enduro trail that drops more 1,400 vertical feet along four miles of single-track, and the trail network off the Pine Marten lift will also expand to include a nearly-vertical drop paralleling the lift line, a trail that will skim lava rock and no-nonsense natural terrain features.
Yet, at the same time that the bike park is upping the ante for experts, it also is opening up more areas and opportunities for beginners. All told, by summer's end, there will be more than 13 miles of trails, and the Sunshine Accelerator lift will be added to the operating schedule.
"The number of bikers who experienced our new trails was a little below what we had hoped for early in the summer," admits Drew Jackson, marketing & communication manager for Mt. Bachelor. "But as more trails opened later in the season we saw more visitors, and had very good months in September and October."
He adds, "Enthusiasm kept building throughout the season and we're optimistic that the positive momentum will lead to a strong opening this summer."
And, to fuel that demand, Jackson explains that they are adding more and a wider variety of trails.
Last year, Jackson indicates that most riders were experienced, expert, and local. But this season, Mt. Bachelor has greatly expanded—including easy-going beginner lessons as well as all-out, 100 percent gravity drops. The wider diversity, Jackson believes, will draw together a more mixed bag of riders, "from beginners to experts with a balanced mix of locals and vacationers," he says.
"Given the length of the snow season at Mt. Bachelor, our trail construction season is limited to a period between mid-June and mid-October. There is only so much we can build during that short four-month window."
"We knew going into the first phase of bike trail construction in 2013 that it was going to be a multi-year effort, but we had to begin somewhere. We decided to focus first on building intermediate trails that would have the broadest appeal. By the end of this summer, most of the intermediate trails in our bike park master plan will be finished. Our focus is shifting now to building trails that have a narrower appeal, catering to beginner and expert riders on the edges of the ability curve."
As well as additional trails, the whole park and interface has been slightly recalibrated: Based on users' feedback, they changed—and, ostensibly improved—the flow for existing trails, and changed up the stock of their bikes, selling off their least popular models and adding more Norco Aurum, their most popular, to their fleet.
But some things are staying the same, assures Jackson. Their most popular session last summer was the Friday evening twilight session, when locals could score a couple hours of riding for $19. This summer, they are offering Saturday and Sunday evening twilight sessions as well.
"Some people have told us that the easiest trail is too difficult," he points out. "Others say the hardest trail is too easy, and some have expressed their wish for greater trail variety with more jumps and features."
He goes on, "We believe that with the new trails set to open this summer and the improvements we're making to existing trails, everyone will be really excited about how the bike park is evolving and growing."
Mt Bachelor Bike Park
July 3 through September 7.
Monday-Thursday, 11 am–5 pm; Friday-Sunday, 11 am–7 pm.
$249 full season pass; $34 full day pass.
Starting on July 20, Mt. Bachelor also offers
five consecutive weeks of Monday–Friday camps for kids.