By Ben Olson
What is there to do on a ski hill in summer? Well, in a word: everything.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort’s summer activities are in full swing, and it’s always a great day on top of the mountain. From hiking to huckleberry picking, mountain biking to horseback riding, Schweitzer has got you covered for summer adventure.
Parents interested in a family friendly day on the mountain will find a host of activities in the village to keep their young ones engaged.
A zip line stretches from the top of Musical Chairs and launches you and a buddy 700 feet down the hill, aimed right at Lake Pend Oreille. The Monkey Motion Air Jumper lets you jump 25 feet in the air like your favorite superheroes. A sluice box allows your little ones to purchase a small bag of mining materials and pan for gems. A climbing wall is located smack dab in the middle of the village to test your prowess at rock climbing.
You can pay per activity, or, better yet, the Unlimited Fun Pass for $35 includes unlimited chairlift rides, unlimited air jump sessions, unlimited climbs, unlimited zip line rides and one sack of jewels for the sluice box.
On a budget? There are a host of activities that Schweitzer offers for free, including hiking on the cross country trail system, geocaching and disc golfing.
“We want to defeat this image that it’s an expensive day on the mountain,” said Dig Chrismer, Marketing Manager for Schweitzer. “In terms of disc golf and geocaching, you’re welcome to come up to the mountain and do what you like and explore without breaking the bank.”
For many, the summer activities begin with a ride up the Great Escape Quad, which takes you 1,700 feet to the summit, where you can enjoy views of the Selkirk and Cabinet Mountains, wildlife, and an amazing perspective of Lake Pend Oreille. The lift ticket will run $12, or is included in the Unlimited Fun Pass.
Once at the summit, the activities range from easy hikes along the cross country trail system through patches of huckleberries, to the most exciting aspect of Schweitzer’s summer program: mountain biking.
“If you show up without a bike, head on down to the rental shop,” said Chrismer. “They’ll find a bike that will fit their needs, whether a downhill specific bike or one for the cross country trails.”
With over 20 miles of cross country trails and six different downhill trails ranging from moderate to super-technical, Schweitzer is a mountain biker’s heaven. Though Chrismer recommends downhill trail users have some experience, as the trails can be technical in nature, it shouldn’t preclude anyone from trying it out.
“Head to the rental shop and touch base,” said Chrismer. “Our crew has been trying to update the trail status regularly, to show what condition the trails are in.”
There is also a trail system that stretches from Schweitzer Village down to the Red Barn, where a shuttle is available to take bikers back up to the top for $5.
“The work on the lower trail system by Selkirk Recreation District has generated a lot of interest,” said Chrismer.
Not an adrenalin junkie? That’s ok, you can head out on a bevy of hiking trails, stopping to fill your huckleberry buckets along the way.
“Huckleberries came early this year,” said Chrismer. “There are a few certain spots that are ready to pick, but we’re expecting the next couple of weeks to be excellent.”
There is also a 9-hole disc golf course on the summit, which is free if you have your own discs. Rentals are available for $5 at the village.
Horseback riding is also available through Mountain Horse Adventures, which you can book through the activity center. It is available for everyone ages eight and up.
“They have some established trails,” said Chrismer. “One of the most popular rides is out to Picnic Point.”
The events at Schweitzer are also a good draw for summer crowds. The next big event will be the Huckleberry Festival on August 2.
“We’ll have a huckleberry pancake breakfast, huckleberry vendors, and live music,” said Chrismer. “It’s very family oriented.”
Chrismer said another part of the Huckleberry Festival that will prove to be wild is the 2.5k and 5k Fun Run for all ages.
“We’ll throw purple colored powder at you when you run through the trails,” she said. “It’s so much fun for the kids.”
On Labor Day Weekend, the 23rd Annual Fall Fest will see over 60 microbrews, live music and a lot of fun.
It’s not difficult to find an activity for any occasion at Schweitzer in summer. If you haven’t gone up and checked it out, pack the kids in the car and head on up. You won’t be disappointed.
“It’s really neat to see Schweitzer in summer,” said Chrismer. “It’s a totally different experience, to look at the runs and see where you ski. It’s beautiful … a whole different side of the mountain.”
For more information about Schweitzer’s summer activities, visit www.schweitzer.com.