The Northstar resort in Tahoe is pretty much the summer destination for gravity addicted downhill and freeriding mountain bikers in the Bay Area and continues get a bit better every year. We missed getting a trip in last season due to having sold off DH bikes to pay bills, and although the quiver is now restored, this year was almost a wash due to injuries. When it came to the last day of the season though, we motivated to get out for a sweet day of riding before the dirt was shut down for the winter.
The jump trail Livewire used to be our favorite destination on the mountain. Not only was it the only trail with a watering system designed to keep the dust from getting out of control, it also is one of the few trails around that evokes the Whistler experience. These days, its reputation has grown so popular that it can suck a bit during peak riding times— there are a lot more novice riders on the hill, which can be a bit frustrating for faster, more advanced riders.
So it was a pleasure to find that the Gypsy trail had received quite a few upgrades. Not only were there quite a few new machine built jumps, but the sprinkler system that worked quite well on Livewire has been expanded over. In addition, a number of wood features had been added to the mix. If Livewire is Northstar’s equivelent to A-line or Crank it Up, then Gypsy is now rocking with a feel reminiscent of Freight Train. (too bad the run doesn’t go all the way to the lodge)
Our day pretty much ended up being run after run alternating between Livewire and Gypsy, (Gypsy still routes into the bottom part of Livewire, but the word is that the trail will eventually extend all the way down to the lift.) until hand pump took over and we stopped for a food break. Before we cut out, we did a run for photos and captured a few photogenic sections we really enjoyed —one of our favorites being a wood step-up platform feature with a slightly hipped step down. (see featured image)
Hopefully the trend continues- although the trails are currently buried under snow, we’re pretty jazzed to get back in the mix next year. Word has it several other resorts are also stepping up to the plate with purpose built MTB trails as well. It sounds like we’re going to be making the trek east a lot next season.
Lead photo— the author on a wood feature on the Gypsy Trail. Photography assistant: Inga Beck