Mountains are coming into prime shape for riding and hiking

Riding the Around the Mountain Trail reminds you why it's called mountain biking. Swooping through the forest and emerging to postcard views of the surrounding mountain ranges make the Treasure Valley and its soaring heat seem far away. 

Snow is quickly melting from the southwest and central mountains, which means it's time to get out and enjoy it. Trails are open or opening at Bogus Basin, McCall, Stanley and Ketchum. 

Around the Mountain is the newest trail at Bogus. It was completed last fall and a lucky few got a chance to ride it before the snow fell. Now it's ready for all riders, and here's a quick review.

It's a beautifully constructed trail that shows what modern trail design is all about. It's a mix of traditional trail (a narrow tread scratched into the dirt) with a mix of gentle and sharp curves that keep your attention. There's also a series of wooden and rock bridges that add character to the trail, and the rock bridges are functional and borderline artistic. Very cool.

Because of Bogus' elevation and the length of the trail (about 9 to 12 miles depending on your route), it's an intermediate trail. But it doesn't require great technical skills. Anyone who's in reasonably good shape will have no problem, although some people may walk a couple short, rocky sections. 

The trail starts with a fairly steep climb up Deer Point trail near the Deer Point lift in front of Simplot Lodge. You climb about a mile to the intersection with Around the Mountain. The trailhead near Simplot Lodge should show or name ATM because several people asked me where it was. People are looking for ATM and not seeing a sign for it. I suggest changing the name at the trailhead near the lift to ATM and consider the start of Deer Point at the intersection. No need to confuse people right from the start, and more will be looking for ATM than Deer Point.

Back to the trail. The steepest ascents and descents are in the first half, and the descent includes the nicest bermed corners you will find on any local trails. It's a blast to ride them. The second half of the trail feels like more climbing than descending, but it's actually a series of shorter climbs and descents until you wind around to the front side of Bogus and make a final climb up to the Pioneer lodge. 

From there, ride down the dirt access road skier's left of the lodge that parallels the paved road, and where it meets the paved road look over your left shoulder and you will see Morningstar Trail. There needs to be signs placed to mark it. I knew it was there and still almost missed it. They may have gotten broken or knocked down over winter and not replaced yet.

Speaking of signs, Around the Mountain could use them at all intersections with access roads on the back side of Bogus. The trail is easy enough to follow, but if someone missed the trail, they could end up down by the Pine Creek or Superior chairs and have a long ride out.

Riders should also remember they're a long ways from help when they're on the back side of Bogus, so bring the essentials, such as tools for bike repairs, an extra inner tube, etc. It would be a long walk out if your bike breaks.

But you should definitely ride this trail. It's going to be the marquee trail for Bogus Basin, and along with Eastside, two of the finest trails in Southwest Idaho. If you're riding on a weekend, end your ride at the lodge and have a sandwich and a drink or two. The folks up there are doing a really nice job with the food and service. It's a great place to end a ride. 

Sun Valley/Ketchum: Here's a report straight from Greg Randolph, AKA Chopper and ace mountain biker: The Sun Valley mountain bike trails are nearly all open with the early coming of summer and light snow in the lower valley elevations.

Wildflowers are in full bloom as the green backdrop of the area provides the ultimate blanket of beauty to lure you deep into the 400 miles of trail in the area. The impact from the Beaver Creek fire has been minimal in the big picture with only a handful of trails remaining closed including the Deer Creek drainage, Greenhorn and Imperial trails (but Lodgepole, Mahoney, and Cow Trail in the Greenhorn drainage are open), and Osbergs Ridgeline Traverse. Otherwise the remainder of the Sun Valley trail network is open and in the peak of early summer glory.

Saddle Up is a new trail features a roller coaster of small jumps and berms designed for beginner riders but laid out such that more advanced riders will have a ball carving up the endless series of flowing features. This new trail compliments the other more progressive trails and parks in the area rounding out the trail offering to bring great riding to all sorts of riders for the summer of 2014 season. More trails are in the works and will be ready to ride in late fall of 2014 or early summer 2015.