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This summer Tamarack Resort reopened its downhill bike park, which was once a highly-regarded downhill destination, and started offering lift services to mountain bikers for the first time since 2007. Tamarack invested more than $2 million in the mid-2000’s to amplify their trail system and was forced to shut down the operation soon after. I had a small taste of the mountain bike lift experience last year during the Huckleberry Jam weekend and quickly splurged on a season pass this year when they became available. I promptly learned that the things I enjoyed about skiing at Tamarack were also the things I liked about biking there.

mountain bike riders stand beneath mountain lift.
Gorgeous views await those who venture to Tamarack Resort for a bit of mountain biking.

There’s a trail for everyone amongst the beginner flat “green” runs, various intermediate trails, and advanced double black diamond offerings. In addition to mountain bikers, Tamarack also offers single lift rides for hikers who just want to trek down the mountain and for families or adventurers who want to do the full circle on the lift. I saw a grandpa with his three granddaughters on the lift who appeared to be having the time of their lives. The small, welcoming feel of Tamarack is a breath of fresh mountain air.

On my most recent trip this year, my first run was one of my favorites –Pura Vida to Super G. There were no surprises, I’d run it a million times in my mind since my last trip. Pick up speed through the well-maintained upper forested section, rally through the technical turns of Super G, and blast through the berms at the bottom of the hill. Sometimes it’s hard not to stop in awe after emerging from the trees to a view of the valley and Lake Cascade below. Throughout the day, each run was a little faster than the one before and just like winter, there was no wait or line to get back on the lift.

The Sports Dome at the bottom of the hill rents out downhill bikes and necessary downhill protective gear, making it a good opportunity for family trips or simply to test the waters to see if downhill biking is your thing. The maintenance shop inside the Dome was a huge help when I needed to cut about three inches off of my seat post. I’ve heard similar positive experiences from other riders as well.

Riders traveling near and far are rewarded with affordable ticket prices. I bought my season pass during early bird pricing and only needed to ride three days out of the season in order to “pay it off.” A couple years ago we climbed to the top without having the option for the lift. Although rewarding, we only had the time, energy and effort for that single run down. Now with the Tamarack Express running on weekends I can get five or six runs in throughout the day and tremendously improve my downhill skills and overall biking confidence.

mountain bike rider going through dense forest
Hold on tight on the Super G run.

Comrades joined me for lunch and we hit the Seven Devils Pub next to the Sports Dome. The patio was great, the nachos were even better. Seven Devils has good food, a full bar, and a good selection of local beer on tap. There’s a large patio with nice furniture out front to watch riders come and go.

Man on mountain bike looks over lake

After nachos, we tried out a run called Hockey Mom before calling it a day. The lift operator suggested this run as we climbed on the lift for our last run of the day. Hockey Mom is another intermediate trail that begins mid-mountain at the intersection of a cat track. This run had smooth jumps and landings and we all ended the day on a high note. Instead of driving back to Boise, we planned ahead to camp near Lake Cascade just a few minutes down the road. That night was spent chatting about our favorite runs and planning the next trip to Tamarack.

The season started in June and ends on Labor Day, September 5th. If you haven’t made plans for the holiday yet, I’ll see you on the hill!

For more information on the Tamarack’s bike park click here.

All images, including feature image, are credited to Dusty Klein.

Dusty Klein is a Boise-based outdoor photographer who enjoys capturing moments of his adventures around our beautiful state. Follow his travels on Instagram.

Published on September 2, 2016