LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Mountain biking trails are being developed at Lee Canyon, and three trails are expected to be open by August, according to a Tuesday news release.
A mountain biking park under design by Gravity Logic, which has previously developed parks in Oregon and Vermont, will take advantage of the Bluebird chairlift to take bikers up the mountain. The park will offer a mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced trails.
More trails are expected to be added in the fall, and by the completion of the project in 2023, the mountain will have 12 miles of downhill mountain bike trails. A map provided by Lee Canyon shows where the trails will be built:
“Lee Canyon’s bike park is monumental for Las Vegas. Our summers are longer and hotter, yet mountain bike trails at elevation are far fewer than in the valley,” says Keely Brooks, a climate scientist and president of Southern Nevada Bicycle Coalition.
“The Las Vegas cycling community also cares deeply about protecting the environment. Knowing we can ride trails designed to minimize impact is a big win,” Brooks said.
Riders will access trails from the Bluebird chairlift, with lift operators loading and unloading bikes on chairs separately from guests.
The trails will give Lee Canyon another attraction when it’s not skiing season. It will also expand opportunities to lands where bikers will be welcome. Many hiking trails in the Spring Mountains are in wilderness, where bikes are prohibited.
“Our bike park will be focused on creating memorable first-time mountain experiences while also catering to seasoned riders,” said Dan Hooper, Lee Canyon’s general manager.
“We’re proud of the time we’ve invested and the knowledge we’ve acquired. This development can serve as a roadmap for how to develop managed recreation areas responsibly,” Hooper said.
And it’s a substantial investment — beyond the cost of carving out trails. Lee Canyon is also providing $250,000 to fund research at UNLV on the Mount Charleston blue butterfly, which lives in just a handful of alpine meadows on Mount Charleston. It’s part of a settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity that opened the door to moving forward with the mountain biking park.
“We’re pleased that we’ve reached an agreement that both protects these butterflies and funds research to put them on the path to recovery,” said Patrick Donnelly, Nevada state director at the Center. “This agreement shows that conservation groups and private parties can work together to ensure recreation doesn’t come at the cost of losing imperiled species.”
The research will delve into the butterfly’s biology, habitat and conservation.
The species was protected under the Endangered Species Act in 2013. One of its population strongholds is on the ski runs at the Lee Canyon Ski Area, according to Donnelly.
“Activists and scientists have fought for years to prevent the extinction of the Mount Charleston blue butterfly,” said Donnelly. “This agreement gives these special little butterflies the best possible chance of recovery. We hope it sparks further Forest Service action to limit the threats recreational use poses to Mount Charleston.”
If you’ve never been to Lee Canyon, you can get there off U.S. Highway 95 northwest of Las Vegas. It’s about 50 miles from the city. There’s also a scenic road that connects Kyle Canyon and Lee Canyon.