Construction is set to start next year on a long-awaited bike park at Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe.
The yet-to-be-finalized plan includes a total of nine to 10 miles of entry- to mid-level gravity-oriented trails that will be built in the East Peak Basin area at the top of the gondola, accessed by the Comet Express and Big East lifts. The park would also include a skills area for beginners and a pump track. More advanced level trails could potentially come in future phases.
The plan also calls for two new connections that would not require a lift ticket to access. The first would link the new bike park to the region's crown jewel, the 165-mile all-mountain Tahoe Rim Trail. The second would allow riders to reach Heavenly Village via a trail that crosses underneath the Stagecoach Express and North Bowl lifts, and eventually exits the ski area near The Pines ski trail.
The proposal is still in the environmental approval process, and is awaiting final approval, but Ben Fish, president of the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association, or TAMBA, said the park has plenty of community support. If it moves forward, trail construction is scheduled to begin in May 2015.
Fish hopes the bike park will be the missing piece to the South Lake Tahoe riding scene. TAMBA has been lobbying Vail Resorts, Heavenly's owner, for a decade for bike trails on the mountain.
"Some of the best epic trail riding in Tahoe is not complemented by really good lift service. [The goal is] having these more DH, gravity trails to complement already good all-mountain riding," he said.
The proposal was helped along by the 2011 Ski Area Summer Use law, which broadens the permitted activities on ski areas located on public lands, and streamlines the environmental process to gain approvals for new summertime amenities, like bike parks.
Fish expects the new trails—built to current standards with smooth transitions and natural flow—to complement the older style of gravity trails offered at Northstar California, a ski area also owned by Vail Resorts located an hour away near Truckee on Tahoe's north shore.
The Heavenly bike park is part of a larger project at Heavenly that also includes ziplines, a sky cycle canopy tour and an alpine coaster. Click here to read the Forest Service’s full description of the Heavenly plan.