Lee Canyon announced today that it will add a downhill mountain bike park for the summer 2022 season. Construction is slated to begin in late June; the park is being designed and built by Gravity Logic, a premier developer of bike parks at leading resorts such as Mt. Bachelor in Bend, Ore., and Killington in Vermont. It’s expected that up to three designated mountain bike trails will be open at Lee Canyon by August. The park will offer a mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced mountain biking terrain, including excavated and jump trails and single track. Lee Canyon will add more trails through the fall 2022 season, and in 2023, there will be roughly 12 miles of downhill mountain bike trails at build-out.
“Lee Canyon’s goal is to offer diverse and inclusive outdoor experiences. We are excited to add downhill mountain biking, which will offer another opportunity to recreate at Lee Canyon,” says Dan Hooper, Lee Canyon’s general manager. “Our bike park will be focused on creating memorable first-time mountain experiences while also catering to seasoned riders.”
Riders will access downhill mountain bike trails from the Bluebird chairlift; lift operators will load and unload bikes on chairs separately from guests. Lee Canyon’s downhill mountain bike trails offer people a new way to connect with the Spring Mountains and have been designed with consideration of their surroundings.
“Lee Canyon’s commitment to Play Forever means protecting the Spring Mountains. That’s why for years, we’ve worked with scientists and local conservation groups to ensure that our bike park’s design minimizes impact on the environment,” says Hooper. “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.”
In 2011, the US Forest Service (USFS) accepted Lee Canyon’s Master Development Plan. What followed was a nine-year environmental analysis that evaluated, among other things, how mountain bike trails would impact the environment at Lee Canyon. Design criteria had to meet the standards of the study and ensure the protection of the Mt. Charleston blue butterfly. In November 2020, the USFS issued a record of decision on the Environmental Impact Statement(EIS) for Lee Canyon’splan, which gave the green light to more managed outdoor recreation experiences, including downhill mountain bike trails.
“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.”
Today, mountain biking looks much different in Las Vegas than in the 1990s when locals built trails in the Spring Mountains. Rapid growth spurred in part by the recent pandemic-inspired cycling boom has created a need for managed recreation areas to offer more mountain bike trails designed by experts that consider environmental impact and cater to the needs of specific ability levels.
“Recently, there’s been a complete transformation of the local mountain bike demographic. Las Vegas Cyclery has seen a massive uptick in youth mountain bike sales, along with more families and first-time riders of all ages,” says Jared Fisher, founder of Las Vegas Cyclery and Escape Adventures. “As a managed recreation area, Lee Canyon’s mountain bike park will foster community, learning, and fun.”
The addition of mountain bike trails at Lee Canyon is on par with national trends. According to the International Mountain Bicycling Association, compared to 2019, land managers report increases in mountain bike trail counts between 100 and 500 percent depending on the region. While Lee Canyon’s mountain bike park is a bonus for residents of Clark County, state officials say it also helps give the economy a boost. Outdoor recreation adds $4 billion to Nevada’s GDP and creates nearly 50,000 jobs. 
“Lee Canyon’s new mountain bike trails will add a world-class system of gravity trails in our state and create new opportunities for amazing outdoor adventures for Nevada families and visitors,” said Colin Robertson, administrator of the Nevada Division of Outdoor Recreation. “With the ever-increasing demand for outdoor recreation opportunities throughout Nevada, advancing sustainable and responsible outdoor recreation opportunities is more critical than ever. I applaud Lee Canyon for their fantastic efforts focused on studying, planning, and designing mountain bike trails. They will create epic outdoor experiences and support a vibrant tourism economy while ensuring the protection of the natural surroundings and ecological treasures across the beautiful Spring Mountains.”
Lee Canyon will address future projects to diversify its outdoor recreation offerings in a phased approach. While timelines are not yet confirmed, things like more parking and ski/snowboarding terrain are on the list. Hooper adds, “Lee Canyon will continue to provide responsible outdoor recreation opportunities by ensuring that our projects’ design criteria and environmental impact are on par with our Play Forever ethos.”
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