Mountain biking Schweitzer Mountain in Northern Idaho (2)
(Photo/Schweitzer Mountain)

Mountain Biking Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho: Explore This Under-the-Radar Gem

One of the great benefits of ski resorts is that in the summer, long after the receding snow has revealed winding singletrack dirt trails, the lifts keep spinning for mountain bikers looking to get a little extra vertical under their tires.

While massive bike parks such as Whistler and Winter Park are renowned for world-class downhill mountain biking, tucked away in the panhandle of northern Idaho sits Schweitzer Mountain.

Unlike some terrain parks with massive jumps and features, Schweitzer offers standard downhill and cross-country (XC) mountain biking that is still under the radar. It’s a rocky mountain with some jumps and bridges that may not require a full-face helmet, though it doesn’t hurt to have one.

Schweitzer Mountain is located just north of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, near Sandpoint. Known for its skiing in the winter, as well as during the summer and fall months, Schweitzer offers some amazing mountain biking opportunities and scenic trails.

Mountain biking Schweitzer Mountain in Northern Idaho - Lake Pend Oreille View
(Photo/David Young)

As summer spins toward fall, Schweitzer Mountain’s lifts provide great access to 40 miles of riding with scenic views overlooking the placid, massive Lake Pend Oreille. Sandpoint is a lake town with a ski area, which means the trails are wide open for mountain bikers.

So, tune up the bike and air up those shocks as we break down how to ride Schweitzer.

Mountain Biking at Schweitzer Mountain

Mountain biking Schweitzer Mountain in Northern Idaho -
(Photo/Schweitzer Mountain)

How to Get There

Northern Idaho is still a relatively remote area. If you decide to drive to Schweitzer and bring your own bike, your best bet is hooking up to I-90, which traverses the northern portion of the country in an east-west direction.

The highway will take you through some beautiful remote regions of the mountain west through Montana if you are coming from the East. The route will take you into Coeur d’Alene, which is a great little community to check out in Idaho as well. From there, it is a straight shot north on 95 into Sandpoint and Schweitzer Mountain.

For those who would prefer to fly in, the best option is to catch a flight into Spokane, Washington. Spokane is home to an international airport that is relatively easy to fly in and out of. From the airport, it is a short drive over the border into Idaho and up to Schweitzer.

The total drive time is about 2 hours from the airport to the mountain. If you don’t bring a bike, bike rentals are available on the mountain, which can be easier if you opt to fly.

Where to Stay

You can find a variety of options when it comes to lodging for Schweitzer. You can stay in Coeur d’Alene or Sandpoint, as there are plenty of hotels and rental properties in the region.

However, to maximize your ride time, we recommend staying on the mountain at the brand-new Humbird Hotel. The boutique hotel, which garnered attention from Forbes when it opened, offers a convenient state-of-the-art place to eat and rest.

Mountain biking Schweitzer Mountain in Northern Idaho
(Photo/David Young)

Attached to the hotel is a great restaurant and bar called the Crow’s Bench, which is composed of wood as a nod to the logging heritage in the region of the state. The regional cuisine is tasty, and you can enjoy a local craft beer on the patio overlooking the trails on the mountain.

Schweitzer’s Trails to Ride

Mountain biking Schweitzer Mountain in Northern Idaho - List of trails
(Photo/David Young)

So, you’ve arrived and are settled in and all ready to hit the trail. The good news is that Schweitzer offers a little something for everyone. From green to black diamond trails, similar to ski run difficulty ratings, you can explore a wide swathe of the mountain.

Mountain biking Schweitzer Mountain in Northern Idaho - lifts
(Photo/Schweitzer Mountain)

From lift-serviced downhill to on-the-mountain cross country, Schweitzer offers more than 40 miles of varied trails to explore. From the village, you can ride straight out on the Picnic Point trail that offers expansive views of Lake Pend Oreille and the surrounding mountains.

For the more advanced and expert trails, take the Great Escape Quad, which provides access to a 1,700-foot vertical descent into the village. If your brakes are still working and you have some strength left, you can keep going from the Highpoint Trail to Little Sand Creek, which drops some 4,000 vertical feet into the valley below.

An insider pro tip: If you opt for Lower Basin laps, there is a Selkirk Recreation District Shuttle available to provide pickups for $10 per person (cash only). Lift tickets cost $35 per day.

Mountain biking Schweitzer Mountain in Northern Idaho - village
(Photo/Schweitzer Mountain)

Trail Recommendations at Schweitzer Mountain

Green Trails
  • Lower Basin XC
  • Switchback 4 – XC Connector
Blue Trails
  • Overland
  • Bear Grass
  • Bear Ridge
  • Cloudwalker
  • Corkscrew
  • Collector
  • Lower Basin Flow
  • Jumpy’s
Black Diamond Trails
  • Huckleberry Hill
  • Shenanigans
  • BSR
  • Lower Basin DH
  • Lower Jib’n
  • Moffit’s Edge
  • Pinch Flat
Double Black Diamond Trails
  • Lower Redemption
  • Upper Redemption

You can check the full trail conditions online.

Bonus Mountain Biking

a mountain biker in a red shirt biking down an intermediate trail at Schweitzer Mountain
(Photo/Schweitzer Mountain)

Idaho has some additional hidden gems to discover when it comes to mountain biking in the fall. If you have the time to ride beyond Schweitzer, check out Silver Mountain, Lookout Pass, and the Hiawatha Trail.

Silver Mountain is in Kellogg, Idaho, about an hour from Sandpoint. It is home to the longest gondola in North America, clocking in at 3.1 miles. The area offers mountain bikers nearly 6,000 vertical feet of riding from top to bottom.

Lookout Pass is located on the border of Idaho and Montana and has access to scenic singletrack trails that cover the mountain. This mountain is a little less rocky and can be more beginner-friendly.

Also located in this area is the famed Ride the Hiawatha mountain bike trail. Deemed the most scenic ride in the country, the easy downhill gravel ride is 15 miles long with 10 train tunnels and seven trestles. This is a scenic, family-friendly ride.

Northern Idaho is worth adding to your list as a scenic low-key location to kick up some dirt.

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David Young

David Young is a freelance writer based in Fort Collins, Colorado. He specializes in outdoor writing and has a degree in journalism and English. He has more than two decades of experience writing for daily newspapers and working in public relations. David enjoys all that Colorado has to offer from mountain biking and fly fishing to backcountry skiing and backpacking.