Public hearing scheduled for Sagle bike park development

Panhandle Bike Ranch would offer shuttle service to trails, camping

By Ben Olson
Reader Staff

A public hearing before the Bonner County Planning Department has been scheduled for Wednesday, April 17 at 1:30 p.m. to take comments from the community regarding a 170-acre mountain bike park proposed in Sagle.

The Panhandle Bike Ranch is envisioned on two contiguous 85.33-acre parcels located off Jumpline Landing in Sagle, currently zoned Rural 10. Access to the proposed facility is from East Dufort Road to Five Lakes Road, through the Five Lakes residential development approximately 3.5 miles east of Highway 95.

A view from the Panhandle Bike Ranch property in Sagle. Courtesy photo.

The project is the brainchild of Sagle resident Scott Kalbach and his family. Kalbach told the Reader he had “this crazy idea many years ago about creating a mountain bike park community where there is a trail system and maybe some places to camp.”

Kalbach said bike parks are trending now all over the country, the closest being the Legacy park, just outside of Whitefish, Mont.

“We’d heard from some of the locals that they heard from local trail organizations that people were driving all the way over from Sandpoint on the weekends to go to Legacy, which is about three-and-a-half hours away,” Kalbach said. “My wife and I wanted to do something more for the local cycling community. Our boys raced mountain bikes cross country through high school and it was a hugely positive influence on our family.”

Kalbach and his family have contracted with British Columbia-based Gravity Logic Trail Builders, which specializes in site analysis and master planning for mountain bike parks at locations including Whistler, Trestle, Deer Valley and dozens of others around the world.

The plan so far includes routes that will range from freeride flow trails to technical downhill course, with the lower half of trails slated to be built in 2024 and the remaining upper ones in 2025. 

Kalbach said his goal is to open operations to the public by spring of 2025.

Along with trails, Panhandle Bike Park also plans to offer two shuttle trucks to take mountain bikers up to the top for their downhill runs, as well as a parking area with 10 tent camping sites, a small ticket booth, mobile wash site, portable restrooms and a rental barn for bike storage. 

The permit application states there will be an estimated four employees and occasional visitors of “+/- 150 during race or similar events,” with the park open during daylight hours — the exception being overnight tent camping. 

The project documents estimate an average of 25 vehicles per day, with the possibility of more for race events and group ride gatherings.

“We saw this property come up for sale and took a look,” Kalbach said. “It seemed like the perfect place. It has the right terrain, the right acreage and it’s north-facing mostly.”

Located on the side of a mountain, the terrain is primarily suitable for downhill biking.

“There’s very little flat terrain on it,” he said. “It’s 1,200 vertical feet. Great for downhill.”

While they are still finalizing the details, the park would likely charge a nominal daily fee of around $40 to pay for the shuttle service up the mountain and would likely operate three days a week around the weekends.

“Our hope is that this will be a positive addition to the already developing mountain bike culture that’s here,” Kalbach said. “POP [Pend Oreille Pedalers] has been incredible developing that culture, and we definitely have a great relationship with POP. Overall it’s going to create a pretty special place for mountain biking in this community.”

For members of the public interested in submitting comments on the conditional use permit meeting April 17, written statements are requested a week prior, though they will also be accepted at the public hearing. Statements can be mailed to the Bonner County Planning Department; 1500 Highway 2, Suite 208; Sandpoint, ID 83864, or they can be emailed to [email protected].

The public will be given an opportunity to provide testimony or evidence regarding how the proposal does or does not comply with the applicable Bonner County Revised Code during the hearing.

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