Mountain bike park is coming to Lee Canyon, slated to open in August

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Mountain biking trails are being developed in Lee Canyon, with three trails expected to be open by August, according to a Tuesday news release.

A mountain bike park being designed by Gravity Logic, which has already developed parks in Oregon and Vermont, will take advantage of the Bluebird chairlift to take riders 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 project’s completion in 2023, the mountain will have 12 miles of downhill mountain biking trails. A map provided by Lee Canyon shows where the trails will be built:

“The Lee Canyon Bike Park is monumental for Las Vegas. Our summers are longer and hotter, but there are far fewer mountain bike trails up high than down in the valley,” says Keely Brooks, climatologist and president of the Southern Nevada Bicycle Coalition.

“The Las Vegas cycling community also cares deeply about environmental protection. Knowing that we can ride trails designed to minimize impact is a big win,” said Brooks.

Riders will access the trails from the Bluebird chairlift, with lift operators loading and unloading bikes onto chairs separately from guests.

The trails will give Lee Canyon another attraction when it’s not ski season. It will also expand opportunities to lands where bikers will be welcome. Many hiking trails in the Spring Mountains are in the wilderness, where bicycles are prohibited.

“Our bike fleet will focus on creating memorable first-time mountain experiences while meeting the needs of seasoned riders,” said Dan Hooper, general manager of Lee Canyon.

“We are proud of the time we have invested and the knowledge we have acquired. This development can serve as a roadmap for responsibly developing managed recreation areas,” Hooper said.

And it’s a substantial investment – beyond the cost of creating trails. Lee Canyon is also providing $250,000 to fund research at UNLV on the Mount Charleston blue butterfly, which lives in only a handful of Mount Charleston’s alpine meadows. This is part of a settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity that opened the door to the advancement of the mountain bike park.

The blue butterfly of Mount Charleston. (Photo: Patrick Donnelly / Center for Biological Diversity)

“We are thrilled to have 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 that recreation does not come at the cost of the loss of endangered species.”

The research will deepen the biology, habitat and conservation of the butterfly.

The species was protected under the Endangered Species Act in 2013. One of its population strongholds is on the ski slopes of Lee Canyon Ski Area, according to Donnelly.

“Activists and scientists have fought for years to prevent the Mount Charleston blue butterfly from becoming extinct,” Donnelly said. “This agreement gives these special little butterflies the best chance of recovery. We hope this will trigger further actions by the Forest Service to limit the threats that recreational use poses to Mount Charleston.

If you’ve never been to Lee Canyon, you can get there from US Highway 95 northwest of Las Vegas. It’s about 50 miles from town. There is also a scenic route that connects Kyle Canyon and Lee Canyon.

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