Telluride Ski & Golf plans to expand the region’s superb mountain biking considerably over the next year.
Unlike every other ski area with bike trails beneath chairlifts, Telski has never charged money for uphill access. Since the gondola qualifies as public transportation, it requires no ticket to disembark at the Station San Sophia apex. As a result, mountain bikers have relished free lifts to 10,540 feet and all the buttery cross-country singletracks and technical downhill hammerfests they could handle.
Yet the existing bike park (known as Mountain Village Bike Park) is somewhat of an afterthought among the body armor set due to its small size and lack of freestyle (or “flow”) trails. Few riders planned a vacation around the bike park, yet they do for parks in Steamboat, Whistler and other resorts.
That should change in June 2019, when Telski unveils the new Telluride Bike Park, a two-wheeled Disneyland with 15 trails and 17 miles of terrain for all ages and skill levels. As Telski Director of Mountain Operations Scott Pittenger explained at a community forum at the Liberty bar Thursday afternoon, the resort will deposit customers at the hugely expanded park with both the gondola and — new for 2019 — Village Express (Lift 4).
“The Telluride Bike Park will take over Mountain Village Bike Park, while preserving those technical trails,” Pittenger said. “We’ve gotten rid of some of the nasty bits on No Brainer and World Cup. But for those who like gnarliness, those trails will still be that way.
“The new terrain (inside the park) will be more on the flow side of things. We hired Gravity Logic out of Whistler, the industry leader, to design and construct the park, and they’ve already started,” he said. Ten miles of new terrain will be added.
As with other upper-echelon bike parks, Telluride’s will be monitored by Bike Patrol to aid with mechanical problems and medical emergencies. And, like popular playgrounds, it will charge users to play.
“The industry standard is $36 a day, so that’s what we’ll charge,” Telski CEO Bill Jensen said. “That includes a $1 donation to the National Forest Foundation (NFF), the nonprofit arm of the U.S. Forest Service.”
The cost, however, will be substantially less for holders of Telski winter season passes: a one-time $25 donation to the NFF, which will grant the donator access to Cross-Country, Freestyle and Technical trails, as well as unlimited rides on Village Express.
According to Jensen, local donations to NFF, which has a matching awards program, “will come back to us as a community and our trails. The hope is to sell 10,000 single-day tickets and put $30,000 in the coffers of NFF. Telski will make money at some point,” he said, but the short-term goal for the bike park is “to energize Mountain Village in the summer and stimulate the local economy.”
Jensen added that “Telski is not going to participate in bike rentals; we want to help community merchants already in that business.”
The resort plans to open Telluride Bike Park the third Saturday in June with daily operation through Labor Day, then moving to Saturday-Sunday operations through the second Sunday in October.
Personnel will scan passes at Station San Sophia and atop Village Express from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., which also are the hours for the Bike Park, as well as its patrollers, guides and instructors.
Again, no one has ever scanned for passes in summer before. Meaning, if you still want to ride Prospect, Village or Basin XC trails for free, you’ll need to do so before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
Asked if he feared blowback from entitled cross-country riders, Jensen said, “There’ll probably be one or two people who complain. My hope is that the community will say, ‘Suck it up!’ If you don’t want to support the National Forest Foundation, you probably shouldn’t live in Telluride.”
The approximately 150 listeners inside Liberty then applauded loudly. (Telski picked up the $1,000 bar tab at the open-bar event).
Cross-country trails will remain two-way routes, and hikers will still enjoy them for free. Trails inside Telluride Bike Park go one-way (usually down) and hikers will not be allowed on them … so freeriders can let off the brakes and fly.
Bike Patrol, Jensen said, will be stationed in the patrol shack atop Coonskin Chair (Lift 7).