WBP Review: Stevens Pass
23 Jun 2015
Words and Photos: Trey Clay
Stevens Pass Bike Park
We were headed to Washington State when some friends of ours said they would be at the Bavarian Bike & Brew in Leavenworth, which is held every year at Gibb’s Organic Farm. So naturally, we followed our spandex-hating friends to an XC race in the Bavarian themed town. (Mostly for the beer, Icicle Brew that is…) They would race and we would make the 35-mile northbound drive to ride at the bike park. It’s been three years since we last visited Stevens Pass Bike Park. Back in 2012 they were brand spanking new with only three trails, an assortment of groupies, and a few haters. They were also heavy hearted with the passing of a good friend (Chris Randolph), who with Joel Martinez (former VP of operations) was a co-dreamer and creator of the bike park at Stevens Pass. In the last few years, things have changed, they have grown, and the vibe is brighter than ever before!
(If you want read more about our time at the Bavarian Bike & Brew go here.)
When we arrived at the base of the mountain, the first thing we noticed was that there were more cars with bike racks and people gearing up to go ride than we had ever seen before! That’s always a good sign. We rolled up to the bike shop to get our tickets. The bike shop had moved to one of the other main buildings. There seemed to be more space with a coffee shop and an assortment of goodies to fill up on should your hunger strike. There was also a bar up stairs with an order-at-the-counter style grill/restaurant. Overall, the place was hopping and people were all smiles. The haters that we spoke of previously were not there, just some hecklers from the lift. It was very reminiscent of Canyons Bike Park in Utah where the lift runs overtop a handful of trails, and people shout down to support or razz their fellow riders.
(In the land of big timber, the trail crew spared no expense to bring this feature into existence on P.B.R. No braking and throw in a few pedal strokes to make the tranny.)
We queued up, popped our bikes in the 4-bike trays, and off we went to the top. Stevens Pass now has seven trails, so we figured why not start with green, move to blue, and lap the black trails (of course). We were committed to riding all the trails to give our honest review and feedback. First off, we should say that a lot of thought has gone into the progression of the trails at Stevens Pass. Right from the get-go, the green trails provided that illusive balance of not too much challenge while still pushing the rider to advance their skill level. And, this theme continued all the way up to the black trails. It’s very impressive and not easy to pull-off.
(Conditions were dry and dusty with the sun beating down all day on P.B.R.'s many tabletops.)
So let’s start with the green trails: Golden Spike - to - Morooka Motion. Both these trails were new for us. Back in 2012, they didn’t have a green trail at all, and they were desperate to get one on the mountain. This is a common issue for many bike parks. What happens is that bike parks tend to be built for the demand (expert black riders) and then, the next thing you know here comes the family with grandma and they wanna ride too! So, over the last handful of years many bike parks in the US have been on a mission to build Green Trails so the newbies have a trail/s they can learn and progress on. Stevens Pass has definitely succeeded with Golden Spike. This trail starts out very mellow with no real features to speak-of, but as you continue down the trail you find large sweeping berms, small rollers and a few well-placed boulders. Golden Spike leads into Morooka Motion. Morooka Motion has more Blue-type optional lines with rock booters and gaps (if you see them). Otherwise this trail starts to challenge the beginner with multiple rollers that you can pump and start to learn how to jump on. Also, it is a little bit more technical for someone who is ready to advance to blue but totally doable for someone who is relatively new to mountain biking.
(Icicle Brewing Company serves up some of the finest beer in the pacific northwest, and it's just down the road from Stevens Pass in Leavenworth, WA.)
Let’s move on to the three blue trails: Rock Crusher, Lichen It and Luvin’ It. We did, we do, and we will! We remember Rock Crusher from 2012. Our memory back then was that it was a lot of fun, but they were battling with lots of rocks in the berms. Don’t get me wrong it was a fun track back then, but it lacked a bit of flow. The trail crew has definitely tackled the issues, and it seems to ride more smoothly and is a great trail to progressively work on your jumps. Rock Crusher is a great trail to get you ready for P.B.R.(expert jump trail), no doubt. Lichen It was also around back in 2012 and seems mostly the same except for the fact that it is now ridden-in and what once was a sneaky, steep, rock roll has been completely exposed and now offers several welcomed options. It’s possible to roll the rock wall in a couple of different spots depending on your speed, or you could air off of it to a nice, steep, dirt transition below. Lichen It is still a favorite of ours on the mountain because it offers great technical riding for the intermediate rider, and the advanced crowd can get creative with higher speeds & line choice. There are lots of steep technical turns and wooden features which are all doable with good momentum. So finding your line is a great accomplishment for an intermediate. Lichen It leads to Luvin’ It. Luvin’ It was new to us! Luvin’ It is more about speed on open double track with a few notable and optional features spread out along it course all the way down to the base of the mountain.
(The most exciting new feature on Lichen It with several optional lines to choose from.)
And of course everyone’s favorite, are the BLACK trails: Slingshot Wookie and P.B.R. Slingshot Wookie is the go-to technical DH trail on the mountain and remains the same as far as we could tell. P.B.R. however, is the newer, signature, jump-trail with monster tabletops, step-ups, and step-downs to satisfy any riders need for flight time. One wooden feature on P.B.R. is especially notable for the massive speed attained dropping down the chute to then launch skyward, up and over a giant granite boulder to the landing. It takes some mental prowess, commitment and a few well-placed pedal strokes to send it.
(Reserved front-row parking for bikes at Icicle Brewing Company!)
Overall, we were very impressed with what they have accomplished over the last three years and moving into their fourth year. They have been stead fast, making progress, and consistently growing, although slowly due to the forest service limitations. And, they are slated for more trails soon. So, they will continue to grow in size and patronage.
(One of the many wooden features found on our way down Lichen It - to - Luvin' It.)
Inside scoop: RV parking is available. It’s located in the parking lot just above the main day lot. $20 per night gets you electrical hookup and water. Just go into the bike shop at Stevens Pass and book your stay to get the deal above.