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Silver Mountain, ID, Report: A Very Tall, Long, World-Class Bike Park in the Panhandle of Idaho – SnowBrains



Silver Mountain, ID, Report: A Very Tall, Long, World-Class Bike Park in the Panhandle of Idaho – SnowBrains

Tyler Mayer getting the goods at Silver Mountain’s bike park in the Idaho Panhandle. | Photo: SnowBrains

Report from June 8-9, 2024

Views of lush green forests and deep blue lakes came more and more into view as we gained elevation on Silver Mountain’s gondola on Saturday morning.

Idaho’s Panhandle is even more gorgeous from the air, I thought as we sailed along America’s longest gondola.

The day was sunny, warm but not too much so, and there was no wind; it was perfect weather to check out Silver’s Mountain Bike Park.

We got to the top of the gondola, hopped onto our bikes, and then took a blue trail called Jack Ass back down to town.


This was not your regular mountain bike trail; it was eight miles long with a vertical drop of over 3,000 feet and it took over 45 minutes of continuous biking to get down.

I’ve never ridden a trail like that before.

Through the forest. | Photo: SnowBrains

Silver Mountain is known for being one of Idaho’s premiere ski areas but what may not be as known is that it also has the #1 rated mountain bike park in the Pacific Northwest for four years running.

An assortment of green, blue, and black trails are accessible right from the top of the gondola; some are shorter and go straight to Chair 3, where you can hit multiple laps back to back, while others are long and enduring like the ones that go for eight miles down to the town of Kellogg where the gondola terminal is located.

Silver’s Bike Park has a little bit of something for everyone.

Trail map. | Photo: SnowBrains

We started with Jack Ass, a blue trail, then hit another blue called Burro Loco, which was slightly more technical.

That was insanely fun.


The trails under the gondola start in an open field where some ski runs are then descend into thick forest.

Once in the forest, the trails branch off and you have dozens of options for more trails to hit, from green to blue to black flow and technical trails.

We had to take frequent breaks because our hands got so tired from the epically long downhill trails—a good problem to have.

The trails just went on forever here…

Wildcat, a blue trail, was one of our favorites of the trip.


We had to stop for lunch at Noah’s canteen to refuel and the food was excellent and not too expensive (go for the chicken sandwich!)

Gondola. | Photo: SnowBrains

After mostly riding blues on the first day we felt ready to take on some black trail on Sunday.

We started with Snake Pit that led to Chair 3, a steep technical trail.

It was exactly that: steep, rocky, technical, and challenging in the best ways.

By the bottom, I was worked but extremely stoked.

More black trails, please.

Jack Ass trail. | Photo: SnowBrains

Then we hit a couple of black flow trails from the gondola down to town called Hammer and Ghost Pepper.

These were steep trails that cut through the woods with playful jump lines all throughout the trails.

We caught some good air and landed on some very well-constructed landings all while keeping a nice flow through the endless twists and turns of the trails.

The berms were smooth and fast; a couple of them were huge and had you accelerating at uncanny speeds.

The vibes were high and everyone at the bike park we encountered had smiles on their faces.

That’s what a nice bike park does.

Air time. | Photo: SnowBrains

At one point we hit a technical black trail called Snaggletooth and I biked the rockiest, most technical section of trail I ever have and flowed it.

I only did it because I was following Tyler who was following a local who made it look smooth.

Then a crew of more locals followed us and rode the technical section with ease and we all exchanged stokey high fives at the bottom.

Bike culture is fun.

Ghost Pepper black trail. | Photo: SnowBrains

After miles upon miles of long, tall downhill trails through gorgeous, thick, moss-covered forests, we were officially tired.

Tired, but happy.

We elected for one more ride down Ghost Pepper and after that decided to call it a day.


Each day we rode last weekend, the weather was beautiful, the dirt was beyond beautiful, the trails were completely uncrowded, and the stoke was high.

Tyler sending. | Photo: SnowBrains

I was thoroughly impressed with Silver Mountain’s bike park and I can see how it’s the top-rated bike park in the PNW.

I could also see myself coming here every summer after the snowmelts and getting my ‘mountain bike’ on.

It’s that good.

Thanks, Silver Mountain!


To learn more about Silver Mountain’s Bike Park, visit the resort’s website. 


Screen Shot: NOAA 6/11/24


In the woods. | Photo: SnowBrains
We had gorgeous weather on this trip. | Photo: SnowBrains
Taking the trail back to the gondola. | Photo: SnowBrains
Chicken sandwich at Noah’s. | Photo: SnowBrains
Views from the top. | Photo: SnowBrains
Tyler on Burro Loco. | Photo: SnowBrains
Tyler sending through the forest.| Photo: SnowBrains
Wildcat. | Photo: SnowBrains
The forested sections were super fun. Photo: SnowBrains
Wildcat—one of our favorite trails of the trip. | Photo: SnowBrains
Gondola. | Photo: SnowBrains
Tyler coming out of Snake Pit. | Photo: SnowBrains
Picking trails. | Photo: SnowBrains
Uphill Grill in Kellogg—a must try! | Photo: SnowBrains
Coeur D’Alene Bike Co.—the best bike shop in town that helped us out tremendously. | Photo: SnowBrains
Tyler banking a high-speed turn. | Photo: SnowBrains
Outlaw Bar and Grill in Mullan—a classic! | Photo: SnowBrains













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Analysis: Convention illustrates the deepening divide within Idaho GOP – East Idaho News



Analysis: Convention illustrates the deepening divide within Idaho GOP – East Idaho News

COEUR D’ALENE ( — While Republican delegates debated a seismic shift in education policy on June 15, Idaho’s Republican state schools superintendent was a spectator.

A nonvoting attendee at the GOP convention, Debbie Critchfield could only watch as delegates called for defunding Idaho’s higher education system. Not that Critchfield — who doubles as a member of the State Board of Education — was exactly a disinterested observer.

“I was above the area where the delegates were seated and people, during it, (were) looking at me … kind of like, ‘What is this? Does this mean what I think it means?’” Critchfield said in an interview Tuesday.

There is no better metaphor for the yawning gorge between Idaho GOP’s mainstream political leaders and the hardline party activists who called the shots at last weekend’s Republican convention in Coeur d’Alene.


From outside the convention’s metaphorically smoke-filled rooms, it’s impossible to know exactly what GOP delegates thought they were voting for. That’s because most convention events were closed to the news media. Party chair Dorothy Moon, re-elected to a second two-year term Saturday, told Clark Corbin of the Idaho Capital Sun that she considers the Idaho GOP a “private association.”

That may be so, but this “private association” exerts considerable weight in the public policy debate. As it did on higher education.

The new language amends a section of the platform that reads, “We strongly support professional technical and continuing education programs that provide career readiness and college preparation.” The amendment adds that Republicans “do not support using taxpayer funding for programs beyond high school.” (Republicans inserted similar wording to a platform plank supporting education “to develop a well-trained workforce.”)

Is this language a broadside pointed at Idaho Launch — Gov. Brad Little’s new and popular $70.8 million postsecondary scholarship program, which has divided Statehouse Republicans? Or is the language directed at higher education more broadly?

The author of the platform amendment explained his objectives to Idaho Education News Wednesday.


“Launch is only the most egregious example of taxpayers being forced to fund postsecondary schooling,” said Scott Tilmant of Caldwell, responding to a series of emailed questions from EdNews. “I believe the government should not be involved in ‘higher education’ at all. I do believe that continuing education is important, but not with taxpayer money. The individual should be making that decision.”

Tilmant made an argument that has surfaced before in the Launch debate: The state’s Constitution mandates that Idaho fund K-12 schools, but is silent on postsecondary education. Federal and state subsidies “obscure the true cost” of postsecondary education, Tilmant said, and the publicly funded schools drive up tuition costs.

“There are many private organizations, charities, and foundations that commit millions of dollars in scholarships,” Tilmant wrote. “Why do we need to take money from hard-working taxpayers on top of that?”

From the gallery, Critchfield said she was witness to a debate that ran the gamut of higher education topics. Delegates brought up diversity, equity and inclusion programs, a reliable hot-button topic within GOP circles. Launch also was a talking point — although an attempt to narrow the platform language to Launch failed. A host of higher education issues all came to a head, she said.

“I didn’t walk away from that discussion and that vote throwing my hands up in the air, and saying Republicans don’t care about education,” Critchfield said.


But if the platform language means what it explicitly says, then it calls for defunding higher education. Idaho’s four-year schools will receive $365 million in state tax dollars next year. The community colleges will receive nearly $64 million. The State Board will put more than $25 million of state tax dollars into the Opportunity Scholarship and other college financial aid. Then there’s $70.8 million for Launch.

That’s north of half a billion dollars, for starters.

But if Idaho were to defund higher education, career-technical training and workforce development programs would almost certainly fall to the K-12 system, Critchfield said. And that, in turn, would force a rewrite of the K-12 budget.

In written statements Wednesday, Little and Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke took identical issue with their party’s convention delegates. The higher ed platform language, they both said, does not reflect the opinion of the “vast majority” of Idaho Republicans.

Both doubled down on higher ed.


“My commitment to strengthening the economy by training the next generation does not end at high school graduation,” Little said. “The state has helped generations of Idahoans receive their post-high school college education, including my children and me.”

Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke touts Idaho Launch at an event at Middleton High School in March. | Darren Svan, Idaho EdNews

“Our state colleges, universities, and technical education programs are more than schools – they are investments in the future prosperity of the Gem State,” said Bedke, who sat in on Saturday’s convention events as a nonvoting attendee. “And if we want our kids to choose to stay in Idaho, we cannot take away the state’s support for these educational opportunities; otherwise, they will leave and look for them elsewhere.”

A party platform only has the power importance that candidates and voters attach to it. Do candidates follow the platform with unfailing fealty? Do voters expect strict adherence to the platform — and punish candidates who stray from the party line?

And on the other side of the coin, if the platform strays too far from popular opinion, do candidates feel like they have a license to ignore it?

“You’re going to see a real differentiation between the party and elected legislators,” Rep. Stephanie Mickelsen, R-Idaho Falls, told Logan Finney of “Idaho Reports” during the convention.


Mickelsen knows a thing or two about a platform fight. In March, Republicans in Mickelsen’s legislative district censured her for failing to support the GOP platform. Last month, Mickelsen easily secured a second term in office, winning a three-person primary with 60% of the vote.

The battle over what passes for mainstream GOP thinking didn’t start in Coeur d’Alene last weekend, and it won’t end any time soon. In a guest opinion Thursday, Moon put a stake in the ground, on behalf of her convention’s rank and file.

“It is not extremists who are in charge. It is the people,” she wrote. “What is so extreme about saying that the government should only spend tax dollars where constitutionally required?”

It’s not nearly so simple, of course. Republican delegates endorsed a monumental change in the education Idaho pays for — and doesn’t pay for. That only amplifies the disharmony within the GOP.

More about the platform from Laura Guido of the Idaho Press.


Kevin Richert writes a weekly analysis on education policy and education politics. Look for his stories each Thursday.

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The ISDA gives update on quagga mussel situation



The ISDA gives update on quagga mussel situation

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The Idaho State Department of Agriculture has updated the state of the quagga mussel situation in the Snake River.  

The samples collected as of Thursday have tested negative, the ISDA said. 

The ISDA cautions that this is just the first round of samples collected. The department plans to continue sampling the river. The department will double sampling efforts across Idaho this season. 

While there are no signs of the mussels, the closures remain unchanged, and the ISDA continues to monitor the situation. 


The quagga remains a significant and ongoing threat to Idaho’s agriculture and waterways. The department continues to monitor the situation.  

The ISDA reiterates the importance of personal responsibility in preventing the spread of the quagga mussel. Showers are mandatory before entering and exiting Centennial Waterfront Park.

The ISDA will be doubling sampling efforts across Idaho this season.  

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If only Idaho’s congressmen had the courage of those who fought in World War II



If only Idaho’s congressmen had the courage of those who fought in World War II

“I simply could not erase from my mind the incongruity of so many lives lost to preserve freedom and democracy and a gang of United States senators cooing over a draft dodger who has no respect for those who died for the freedoms we enjoy today.” | Opinion

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