For years the Skibowl bike park on Mt. Hood has primarily been destination to the core gravity riding community. Host to DH races with a well-earned reputation for fast, sketchy fire road descents, a burly rock garden and technical double black diamond pro course, it has been the go-to riding spot for Portland area DH riders.
In last last few years though, trail crews have been working to expand the selection of trails with new single track options designed to entice trail riders.
The addition of the Sunrise and Sunset trail finally offers a true top to bottom single track experience. Part of the park expansion initiated in 2015, the Sunrise Trail starts at the top of the upper Skychair and connects to the beginning of the Gnar Gnar trail. Gnar Gnar continues down to the base area, or you can divert to the left for a more technical run down Fire Hydrant.
Optimized for trail and enduro bikes, Sunrise Trail adds a trail bike friendly intermediate blue trail with a brief pedaling section. And although we came equipped with our full blown gravity rigs, the brief climb was over quickly and we were back into the tasty-loamy woodsy descent.
Sunrise and first part of Sunset were built using an excavator, with the rest of the trail built by hand. All single track with decent flow and even better soil, conditions were primo this weekend as our crew blazed down the mountain, stopping to document highlights of trail for this post.
There are a number of epic view points to enjoy that inspired the naming of the trail, as the trail crews would often enjoy viewing the beautiful sunrises.
This trail is an exciting new addition that makes the cost of entry worth it – combined with the new Sunset Connect trail, you can do a top to bottom run on ripping single track trail.
Our favorite route on enduro bikes would be to run Sunrise to Sunset to Gnar Gnar to Fire Hydrant, or drop into the freeride trail. I am already planning my next day on the mountain so I rock some non-stop top to bottom laps.
Not the same old Skibowl
The last time I spent a full day on the mountain was in 2010. It was a remarkably different experience, and why its taken me almost two years to visit Skibowl, although it happens to be my local bike park.
Back in the day, Cannonball was the only way down from the top, and seeing as how Cannonball is essentially a dirt road it wasn’t exactly a draw.
In the last few years though, even Cannonball has received a number of improvements with the addition of bermed turns and take offs over the drainages that made the trail significantly more fun.
It’s still sketchy though — our friend Adam was the only one in the group on an all mountain bike and he came into one of the berms hot. Unable to slow down enough, he went over the top of the berm taking a good shot to the ground.
We also enjoyed the new double black diamond Pro Line from the top. Containing some technical and steep rock lines, its a legit DH trail not recommended for those lacking the skills.
Had I realized the new additions were this much fun, I definitely wouldn’t have waited this long. If you haven’t been up to Skibowl yet, we recommend checking it out. You won’t be wanting for lack of challenge.
Based on the fun day we had, we’re already planning a follow up visit.
The one experience we found ourselves wishing for is a jump filled flow line. If Skibowl added a Crank It Up (one of the most popular trails at the Whistler Bike Park) style jump filled flow trail to the mix, the lift lines would be packed.
Currently the upper bowl is open 4 days a week but with wedding season currently in effect, it shuts down early at around 3pm or so. The downside is you have a limited time window to access to the top mountain trails if there are weddings scheduled.
We recommend getting there early to make sure you can get your top mountain runs in, and calling in advance.
A bike park pass for the day runs $40, and since ride times are weather permitting, calling ahead is recommended. Summer weekend hours are 11-6.
Thanks to the crew — Izaak, Adam, Wylie and Joel — for the photo shred session.
Mt. Hood SkiBowl, 87000 US 26 Government Camp, OR 97028
MTB Project: Sunrise Trail
For more info: Skibowl.com: Summer