Downhill junkies get their fix at Northstar |

Downhill junkies get their fix at Northstar

Adam Jensen
A mountain biker catches air at Northstar’s mountain bike park during a previous season. The park opened June 6.
Courtesy Vail Resorts |

There’s a distinct style of fashion at Northstar California these days.

Of course, the full-face helmets, body armor and shin guards serve an important purpose; but it’s a noticeable style nonetheless.

The resort’s mountain bike park opened for summer operations June 6, bringing the downhill fanatics to the resort in droves.

Initial reviews of the park were glowing.

“It’s great,” said Truckee resident Eliot Ross while taking a break at the base of the Tahoe Zephyr Express lift on June 7. “The trails are in good shape, everything is flowing fast.”

The park offers beginner and intermediate trails, as well as cross-country trails but, judging from the parade of beefy, high-tech downhill bikes in the lift line, advanced descents like Livewire and Gypsy are the major draw to the park. The big wooden turns on Gypsy have the feel of a roller coaster winding through the pine trees, while the banked turn, jump, banked turn combinations on Livewire are infectious fun even after they’ve been lapped a half dozen times.

“I just love Livewire. That’s totally my style,” said Inga Beck, an editor at and a mountain bike rider. “I love flowy trails with big berms.”

“It’s awesome,” added San Rafael resident Penny Vaughan. “Gypsy and Livewire are great right now. Boondocks is kind of blown out but it’s still really fun.”

She said the attraction of mountain biking is equal parts adrenaline, challenge and friendship.

“I like that it’s challenging and I like the social aspect of it — hanging out with friends,” Vaughan said.

Despite the frenetic excitement on the mountain during the bike park’s opening weekend, the winter ski hill takes on a noticeably relaxed vibe in summer. There’s no powder to chase, and the days are long with plenty of sunshine.

“The conditions are great. People are super chill,” said Dublin resident Joe Seiferth, smiling through his helmet’s mouth guard last Saturday.

For those seeking a slightly slower pace, looker’s left of Tahoe Zephyr Express lift provides off-the-beaten path thrills without the nonstop action of Gypsy and Livewire. Starting just below the top of the gondola, the Mineshaft trail also offers intermediate single track with plenty of excitement for riders not ready to tackle big features.

Northstar’s Tahoe Zephyr Lift and the Big Springs Express Gondola provided access to the mountain bike park last Saturday. The Vista Express lift is schedule to open June 27, providing easier access to additional trails on the east side of the mountain.

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