Mountain Biking Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho: Explore This Under-the-Radar Gem


One of the great things about ski resorts is that in the summer, long after receding snow has revealed winding single-track dirt trails, the lifts keep turning for mountain bikers looking to get a bit more of verticality under their tires.

While massive bike parks such as Whistler and Winter Park are renowned for world-class downhill mountain bikingnestled in northern Idaho’s begging sits Schweitzer mountain.

Unlike some terrain parks with massive jumps and features, Schweitzer offers standard downhill and cross-country (XC) mountain biking that is still under the radar. It’s a rocky mountain with a few jumps and bridges that may not require a full face helmet, although it doesn’t hurt to have one.

Schweitzer Mountain is located just north of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, near Sandpoint. Known for its skiing in the winter, as well as the summer and fall months, Schweitzer offers incredible mountain biking opportunities and scenic trails.

(Photo/David Young)

As summer turns to fall, the Schweitzer Mountain lifts provide excellent access to 40 miles of riding with scenic views overlooking placid, massive Lake Pend Oreille. Sandpoint is a lakeside town with skiable terrain, which means the trails are wide open to mountain bikers.

So tune the bike up and air out those shocks as we break down how to ride Schweitzer.

Biking at Schweitzer Mountain

Biking Schweitzer Mountain in Northern Idaho -
(Photo/Schweitzer Mountain)

How to get there

Northern Idaho is still a relatively remote area. If you decide to drive to Schweitzer and bring your own bike, your best bet is to connect to I-90, which crosses the northern part of the country in an east-west direction.

The highway will take you through beautiful remote mountain areas in western Montana if you are coming from the East. The route will take you to Coeur d’Alene, which is also a great little community to check out in Idaho. From there it’s a straight shot north on 95 to Sandpoint and Schweitzer Mountain.

For those who prefer to fly, the best option is to fly to Spokane, Washington. Spokane is home to a relatively easy international airport to get to and from. From the airport, it’s a short drive across the border into Idaho and to Schweitzer.

The total travel time is approximately 2 hours from the airport to the mountain. If you don’t bring a bike, bike rentals are available on the mountain, which may be easier if you opt to fly.

Where to stay

You can find a variety of accommodation options for Schweitzer. You can stay in Coeur d’Alene or Sandpoint, as there are plenty of hotels and rentals in the area.

However, to maximize your travel time, we recommend that you stay on the mountain at the brand new Humbird Hotel. The boutique hotel, which caught the eye of Forbes when it opened, offers a convenient, state-of-the-art place to eat and rest.

Biking Schweitzer Mountain in Northern Idaho
(Photo/David Young)

Attached to the hotel is an excellent restaurant and bar called the bench of crows, which is made of wood as a nod to the state’s region’s forest heritage. The regional cuisine is tasty and you can enjoy a local craft beer on the terrace overlooking the mountain trails.

Schweitzer trails to walk

Biking Schweitzer Mountain in Northern Idaho - Trail Listing
(Photo/David Young)

So, you’ve arrived and are settled in and ready to hit the trail. The good news is that Schweitzer offers a little something for everyone. From green trails to black diamonds, similar to the difficulty ratings of ski runs, you can explore a wide swath of the mountain.

Biking Schweitzer Mountain in Northern Idaho - Lifts
(Photo/Schweitzer Mountain)

From downhill served by ski lifts to cross-country skiing in the mountains, Schweitzer offers more than 40 miles of varied trails to explore. From the village, you can climb straight up the Picnic Point trail which offers stunning views of Lake Pend Oreille and the surrounding mountains.

For more advanced and expert trails, take the Great Escape Quad, which provides access to a 1,700-foot vertical descent into the village. If your brakes are still working and you have some strength left, you can continue from the Highpoint Trail to Little Sand Creek, which drops about 4,000 vertical feet into the valley below.

An insider pro tip: If you opt for the Lower Basin tours, there is a Selkirk Recreation District shuttle available to provide pickups for $10 per person (cash only). Lift tickets are $35 per day.

Biking Schweitzer Mountain in northern Idaho - village
(Photo/Schweitzer Mountain)

Trail recommendations at Schweitzer Mountain

Green slopes
  • Lower basin XC
  • Switchback 4 – XC Connector
blue trails
  • By the road
  • Bear Grass
  • bear crest
  • cloud walker
  • A corkscrew
  • Collector
  • Lower basin flow
  • Jumpy’s
Black Diamond Trails
  • Huckleberry Hill
  • shenanigans
  • BSR
  • Lower basin DH
  • Lower jib
  • Edge of Moffit
  • Pinch flat
Double Black Diamond Trails
  • Lower Redemption
  • Greater Redemption

You can check full trail conditions online.

MTB Bonuses

a mountain biker in a red shirt cycling on an intermediate trail at Schweitzer Mountain
(Photo/Schweitzer Mountain)

Idaho has a few more hidden gems to discover when it comes to mountain biking in the fall. If you have time to ride beyond Schweitzer, go to Silver Mountain, Lookout Pass and Hiawatha Trail.

silver mountain is in Kellogg, Idaho, about an hour from Sandpoint. It is home to the longest gondola in North America, with a length of 3.1 miles. The area offers mountain bikers nearly 6,000 vertical feet of top-to-bottom riding.

Observation pass is located on the border of Idaho and Montana and has access to scenic single-track trails that cover the mountain. This mountain is a little less rocky and may be more suitable for beginners.

Also located in this area is the famous Ride the Hiawatha mountain bike route. Considered the most scenic ride in the country, the easy gravel descent is 15 miles long with 10 railway tunnels and seven trestles. This is a panoramic and family outing.

Northern Idaho is worth adding to your list as a scenic and low-key place to get rid of the dirt.

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