Inland Northwest Resorts Embrace Bikes, Hikes And Quietude
Between the crest of the Cascades and western front of the Northern Rockies, a half-dozen ski and snowboard resorts stay open -- in varying degrees -- during the summer months for all to cool out a bit.
Summer activity menus ranges from the full-on "adventure park" concept to mountain biking and scenic lift rides to mellow hiking and meditating upon Nature.
Up near the Canadian border, Schweitzer Mountain looms above Lake Pend Oreille and Sandpoint, Idaho. A chairlift ride gets you to mountaintop restaurant Sky House for views, brews and food amidst the Kanitzu National Forest. There's a summit disc golf course, too, and more than 40 miles of MTB trails head down to the resort base -- home to dual ziplines, climbing wall, trampoline and more.
Jump across into Washington and check out 49 Degrees North, one of the northernmost resorts in U.S. It's old-school summer on Chewelah Peak: No lifts, no "attractions" other than a half-dozen MTB and hiking trails along service roads. Mid-summer mean huckleberry picking season all over the resort's three basins.
Still in Washington is Mt. Spokane outside the state's largest city east of the Cascades. The non-profit day hill is open for hiking and biking (no lifts), and Saturdays' Brews and Views at the summit's Vista House.
Back into Idaho, Silver Mountain above Kellogg boasts Idaho's largest indoor water park -- perfect for cooling down in a hot summer. Park has a dozen stations, including flow rider for surfing, lazy downriver tubing, Minor's Island for kids, and a overhead rope course. On the mountain, the nation's longest gondola runs carries lookie-loos, hikers and mountain bikers for fresh air at the summit.
Right at the Montana-Idaho border, Lookout Pass is a short drive from silver boomtowns Wallace and Mullan. Few bike routes compare with the famed Hiawatha Trail, operated by the resort. A premier rail-trail, the 15-mile, all-downhill ride straddles the state line with 10 tunnels, seven train trestles, interpretive stops and drop-dead views of the Bitterroots. At the resort, chairlift runs Friday-Sunday for hiking, mountain biking and soaking in the scenery.