By Jason Welker
There’s something happening in those hills on the edge of town. If you’ve been on a walk in the Syringa Trail Network or above the roundabout on Schweitzer Mountain Road lately, you may have noticed some interesting developments in our local trail networks.
At the Greta’s Segway trailhead on West Pine Street, you’ll have noticed a new trail map, showing for the first time the complete network of trails on three different properties: Pine Street Woods, Sherwood Forest and the newest property open for recreation to the public, VTT (which stands for vélo tout-terrain, French for “mountain bike”).
These properties, combined with an easement through the Pristine Heights and Westridge Estates developments down to West Pine, make up the 400-acre Syringa Trail network, where the Pend Oreille Pedalers, Kaniksu Land Trust and Sandpoint Nordic Club have joined forces to establish new recreation opportunities right on the edge of town. These include an expansion of the narrow trails that will see nearly five miles of new singletrack constructed this year alone, as well as the establishment of many new wide, “social” trails in Pine Street Woods, which allow for leisurely strolls in the woods and can be groomed for cross country skiing in the winter.
Beyond their work building and maintaining trails in the Syringa Network, the Pedalers are also undertaking an even more ambitious project high above the Little Sand Creek Watershed off the back of Schweitzer Mountain. This year the club received a grant from the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation license plate fund to complete the first phase of the Watershed Crest Trail.
Phase 1 begins at the saddle below the top of Schweitzer’s Lake View Triple on Uleda Ridge, travels 1.5 miles out to Uleda Point, then turns and travels another two miles back to rejoin the existing High Point trail several hundred feet further down the ridge. In the future, the Pedalers plan to continue beyond Uleda Point towards Baldy Mountain; ultimately the planned Watershed Crest Trail would traverse 14 miles from the top of Schweitzer around the watershed, returning to Schweitzer Mountain Road above Switchback 3.
With the hiring of its first-ever executive director, Pend Oreille Pedalers is expanding its activities and offerings for the cycling community in Sandpoint. This week, the club launched its inaugural youth summer mountain biking camp. Forty-eight area youth are getting instruction from experienced coaches on local trails over two weeks. There are still openings in the Advanced Camp, which will be hosted Monday, Aug. 3-Friday, Aug. 7. More information and registration details can be found on the club’s website: pendoreillepedalers.org.
In order to support POP’s efforts to expand access to frontcountry recreation for area residents, the club has launched a business sponsorship program, and is seeking 30 local businesses interested in supporting its mission for 2021. There are three levels of sponsorship available, each with its own level of recognition for the businesses who sign on, including cool POP schwag and a “Proud Trail Supporter” POP sticker to put in your business’s window.
With enough support from its dedicated membership and from local businesses, POP should be able to complete the Watershed Crest Trail and vastly expand trail access in the Syringa network within a five year period.
For more information about the Pend Oreille Pedalers, including summer camps, new trail maps, group rides, trail work parties, club meetings and business sponsorship, check out the club’s website at pendoreillepedalers.org, or reach out to the new executive director at [email protected]
For information about Pine Street Woods, along with how you can support Kaniksu’s Land Trust projects there, visit kaniksu.org. If you’re looking to get into cross country skiing, have a look at Sandpoint Nordic Club’s programs and membership options at sandpointnordic.com.
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