Pedal, Play, Party: Summer Fun in West Virginia, Idaho and California

family bike route of the hiawatha

Photo courtesy Route of Hiawatha, Lookout Pass Ski Area.

It’s quite possibly the oldest cliché in ski country: We came for the winters and stayed for the summers.

Cliché? Yes. But only because it rings so true. While skiing draws us to the mountains, the full shock of summer beauty keeps us here. Summer in the mountains is spectacular. Warm sun, long views and cool temperatures make the mountains a perfect summer playground. Not too hot, not too cold, but (you guessed it)…just right.

Clichés and nursery references aside, summer fun abounds at North American ski resorts. Whether your tastes run to hiking, concerts, festivals or biking, you can do these, and more, on mountain this summer. Need inspiration? Check out these resorts, from east to west.

Get Your Downhill On in The Snowshoe Bike Park

Wild. Wonderful. While these two words are often used to sum of the attractions of West Virginia, home of Snowshoe Mountain, they are also a concise summary of the Snowshoe Bike Park. Especially wild.

If you haven’t tried downhill biking, the first thing you need to know is that downhill biking is not the same as mountain biking. It’s a totally different sport that combines fat tire bikes with features you might normally associate with a ski or snowboard terrain park. While the trails wind through beautiful forest and meadows, man-made features including berms and jump lines take your skills and thrills to a new level.

snowshoe bike park

Photographer: Philip Duncan. Photo courtesy Snowshoe Mountain Resort.

With a late May opening, the Snowshoe park has a long season, 40 trails and 1500 vertical feet of descent. Two high-speed quads handle the ascents in the park, which is one of the largest in the East.

This season, a new machine-groomed beginner flow trail will open in July on the north side of the mountain.

snowshoe bike park family

Photographer: Philip Duncan. Photo courtesy Snowshoe Mountain Resort.

Beginner instruction and clinics and camps for all levels are available, as are rental bikes and safety equipment. Best of all, women ride free on Sundays.

And if downhill mountain biking sounds just a little bit too wild, there’s always the wonderful side of Snowshoe. Hike and explore over 11,000 acres of wilderness. Kayak and canoe on Shavers Lake. Ride a horse into the sunset. Tee off on the Gary Player Raven Golf Club.

shavers lake snowshoe west virginia

Photographer: Philip Duncan. Photo courtesy Snowshoe Mountain Resort.

Wild? Not always. Wonderful? Yes.

Get Your Pedal On at Lookout Pass and Silver Mountain Resorts

When I heard the name, I was intrigued: The Route of the Hiawatha. For me, the name conjures up visions of eastern forests and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

So what is it doing in Idaho?

It turns out the Route of the Hiawatha is an abandoned rail line turned popular rails-to-trails bike route. A thirty-mile, gentle grade roundtrip, the trail goes through ten tunnels and over seven trestles, the highest of which is 230 feet above Loop Creek Canyon.

Originally built to for mining and to provide passage through the Bitterroot Mountains, interpretive signs explore the region’s history. The longest attraction, however, is the 1.66 mile Saint Paul Tunnel on the Montana-Idaho border.

route of the hiawatha bike tunnel

Photo courtesy Route of the Hiawatha, Lookout Pass Ski Area.

Lights and helmets are required to ride the Route, as is a trail pass that you can buy at Lookout Pass Ski Area. Shuttle service can also be arranged at Lookout Pass if you plan to ride only one way. You can also rent bikes, helmets and lights.

After riding the Route of the Hiawatha, you may want to try the longer Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes which has a trailhead at nearby Silver Mountain Resort. The Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes is 73 miles long and paved.

The Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes follows a Union Pacific right-of-way and rolls downhill from the high mountains, along the banks of the Coeur D’Alene River and around Lake Coeur D’Alene, to Idaho farmland. There are 20 trailheads along the route and 17 picnic areas.

And when the pedaling is over? Take some time to relax at the Morning Star Lodge at Silver Mountain Resort. In addition to the expected condo and lodge amenities, guests can slide, splash and even take surfing lessons at the on site Silver Rapids Waterpark.

silver mountain water park morning star lodge

Photo courtesy Silver Mountain Resort

Get Your Yoga On at Squaw Valley’s Wanderlust Festival

Yoga. Music. Nature. Does it get anymore California than this?

squaw valley wanderlust yoga

Photographer: Tom O’Neill. Photo courtesy Squaw Valley.

Squaw Valley’s Wanderlust Festival (July 18-21) is a celebration of mindful living, mountain fun and music. Practice yoga with some of the world’s best teachers, learn about organic wines and farm-to-table dining, meditate under the stunningly blue ski, or enjoy the gorgeous Sierra wilderness from the vantage point of your bike, a hiking trail or while relaxing by the mid-mountain pool. Evenings bring a lineup of live music and late night DJs. Everyone is invited, even families, and children ages 4-10 have their own daily yoga program, WanderKind Kids.

squaw valley hiking

Photographer: Tom O’Neill. Photo courtesy Squaw Valley.

Not everyone likes a busy festival atmosphere, so if Wanderlust sounds just a little bit too crazy, choose another weekend for hiking, biking, and of course, the irresistible pull of Lake Tahoe. While the lake can get really busy in summer, Squaw Valley offers a quiet respite from the crowds.

squaw valley wildflowers

Photographer: Tom O’Neill. Photo courtesy Squaw Valley.

The High Camp pool and hot tub are open, and the mid-mountain ice rink turns into a roller rink. Dogs are allowed on the tram and if you hike up, you can download the tram for free. The Shirley Canyon trail to Shirley Lake is recommended, as is the on-mountain disc golf course which plays down into Shirley Canyon.


UPDATE: You don’t have to go to Wanderlust to get your yoga on at Squaw Valley. On June 26, a year-round, full-time Wanderlust yoga studio will open in The Village. Look for all sorts of awesome classes and programs, and keep your eyes open for Yoga Squaw’d — free, outdoor community yoga sessions every Wednesday evening from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. in The Village. 

In true Wanderlust fashion, many sessions will be accompanied by music. 

Portions of this post originally published at on May 13, 2013.







© 2013, braveskimom. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.


  1. marge gunderson says

    We rode tressles of the Hiawatha in Idaho many years ago when they first opened it up for biking. So fun. You are having way too much fun my friend. Rode over the hill by your house this morning and wondered what you were doing. Luv Marge.;-)

    • says

      Hi Marge! I only wish I were in Idaho! No, this bike trek is one that came my way via a friend and while I’ve written about it, I haven’t done it. BUT, it’s on my list! Maybe later this summer! Hope to see you soon!

  2. says

    Seems your having a great time in Idaho. Been there for only once and that was during winter holiday. Never tried biking there but that sounds interesting. I maybe would try that for sure.

    • says

      I have to admit, I’ve not personally ridden either of these trails in Idaho. But, in talking to people that have, they sound amazing. I hope to ride them someday!

  3. says

    The trail is enchanting, winding along the Coeur D’Alene River and Lake, past mountain creeks, marshy swamplands, and tranquil lakes. There are 36 bridges and trestles, abundant wildlife, and glorious flora – cottonwoods, willows, and aspens provide sporadic shade. There are dozens of places to pull off the trail and take a swim to cool down.

  4. says

    The mountain biking there looks awesome. I haven’t mountain biked there recently but Idaho is a beautiful state. We used to visit Coeur D’Alene every summer.