#ECRT 2017: Mount Snow
8 Sep 2017
No East Coast bike park road trip would have been complete without a visit to Mount Snow. However, back in 2014, on our first journey eastward, we experienced some pretty crummy weather. [No] thanks to Mother Nature, a couple of key trails that we wanted to ride were closed due to severe erosion from torrential rainstorms. “Welcome to New England”, was a common phrase we heard in the Northeast whenever the rain came barreling through. This year, however, we were stoked to have had a weekend with perfect weather. Even more exciting to hear, are the plans that Mount Snow intends to implement in the next few years to improve their bike park. To start, they’ve hired a new bike park manager from California, who is eager to see his progressive vision for mountain biking come to fruition. Mount Snow might just burst back on to the bike park scene for those riders craving some old school gnar to go with their new-school flow.
(thanks to ZOIC for making Natty & Trey look good!)
Mount Snow was once known as the place in the North East where downhill-runs were rowdy and the riders were crazy. A place where every badass on a big-bike came to race downhill, and if you were someone with any clout in the downhill scene, you would have most definitely been seen there in your neon race kit. The term, “back in the day” was often used when we spoke with some of the old school Northeast shredders of downhill. They remember Mount Snow back during its heyday of Grundig World Cup, US Nationals Champs, and NORBA races. You can still find remnants of those old trails alive on the mountain today. Somewhere along the way though, the bike park took a back seat and things mellowed out. Outside of race event days, the bike park scene is pretty quiet at Mount Snow. There were a few groups of riders present when we made our most recent visit. And of course, there were plenty of new riders trying out downhill MTB for the fist time. Newbies are something we’re getting use to seeing more frequently at every bike park these days – tis the future. But, that doesn’t mean the trails at Mount Snow are dumbed down. What it does mean, however, is that they have something for the new person to ride! Specifically, a great beginner trail called Gateway. And, more to the point, Mount Snow actually has great trails for all skill levels; they just need more of them!
The biggest thing that we noticed about the bike park was that Mount Snow had not made many significant changes to the trail system since our most recent visit back in 2014. They have been busy updating and expanding their snow making capabilities and building a new ski lodge...to the tune of $52-million! It’s sad to say, but none of that money went towards the bike park. However, there is hope on the horizon, now that the budget was spent and renovations are being made, they are turning their eyes back towards mountain biking. The first thing they did, that was a super smart idea in our opinion, was to hire a bike park manager. Benny McGinnis, is an all smiles happy guy who, until recently was living out in Colorado. He’s motivated for the bike park to progress and wants to see great things happen there in the future.
Here is something that we are beginning to truly understand, bike parks have to change-it-up. Although riders become quite cranky when changes are made to trails that they have come to love and memorize, it is still necessary to make changes. The truth is, if you leave the trails the same year-in and year-out, riders get board and start to look for something different and/or more challenging. Making additions to trail systems is important, but also creating changes to trails that are already present on the mountain is a vital component to making riders happy. It will keep them coming back for more.
(rider: Benny McGinnis)
Let’s touch on a few positive things that we found on the mountain. The numbered trails were finally named, yay! And, there was a new (intermediate) flow trail called “Evolver”, machine built into the mountain. The new trail was a total blast, possessing huge sculpted berms, rollers, and small jumps. We would love to see “Evolver” extend from all the way off the top of the mountain. Having an intermediate level trail from the top would definitely round out what Mount Snow offers to the park rider. We did notice a few changes on “Bullwhip”, the coveted, iconic, black diamond flow trail. They’ve added in a new step-up and a drop at the end of the trail. Two thumbs up for that! Back in 2014, and in the aftermath of biblical flooding, “Swamp Donkey”—one of the best trails on the mountain, was largely un-rideable. So, this time, we weren’t going to leave Mount Snow without getting to know the aptly named “Swamp Donkey”. Nasty, rocky, root infested, and steep, this double-black rated trail quickly became one of our favorites. You have to be on your game to maneuver up and over huge root bundles and plow or pick your way though large boulder-strewn rock gardens. There were tricky rock drops and tight narrow passages surrounded by trees. It is definitely what gnar junkies dream about. If you can ride the entire trail without a single foot dab, then you deserve a cookie…or in our case, a blueberry Jell-O pie!
(If you are going to plan a trip to Mount Snow try and time it with some of the many summer long events going on. We were there for the Blue Berry Festival)
(rider: Benny McGinnis)
In all, we were 100% satisfied with our time at Mount Snow. And, we’re stoked to see what Benny has up his sleeve for 2018. We had some emails and texts come though while we were at Mount Snow— friends whom we’ve met on this summer tour, asking about Mount Snow, and if it was worth the drive. The answer was ‘yes’ of course! Mount Snow has great trails. We just want to see more from them next season.
(rider: Benny McGinnis)