We prepared for this race season on a peloton and although neither Bradley or I pedaled more than twice per week, it would seem that even this little training makes a big difference compared to last season's first race. Even after 3 days or hard practice Wed, Thursday and Friday, Bradley moved through his race day without issue, complaint or tears. Largely due to the excellent, short climbing trails at Beacon Hill.
Hubapalooza Bike festival and enduro/DH race is always hosted at a trail system called Beacon Hill. For those of you who have not ridden at Beacon Hill in Spokane Washington, Ill do my best to describe it. It has rocks, lots of them … And it also freaking ROCKS! The unique terrain and high desert like location make this an amazing technical trial system. What Northshore is for roots, Beacon Hill is for rocks. That means lots of baby heads, rock rolls, slabs and even “Hucks” if you are brave enough. Beacon’s rating system is also no joke, rating some trails “Black” that will make riders from more mellow states wet their pants. I live in Oregon and we joke about “Washington Black’s” being different, but its true. Oregon builders tend to up-rate their trails while Washington tends to downplay them. Just because you can ride a black trail in Oregon, does not mean you're gonna full send all the black trails at Beacon. Don’t believe me? Just roll out of the parking lot and drop into Hot Tin Roof or Non-Disclosure Agreement. These “Black Rated” trails pushed us to our limit … and we have ridden double black tech in Whistler. More than once I caught myself from dropping an F-Bomb while blasting through a rock garden or steep role.
Beacon Hill is sort of like Beacon “two” hills .. or at least 2 primary staging areas. The Enduro course was run entirely on the western side which they call “The Towers” due to the massive cell towers at the top (Best cell reception of any trail system I’ve ever ridden … go figure). Climbing is handled on a very mellow and well built 540 foot elevation gain climbing trail called Esmeralda. Esmeralda can be accessed from the Esmeralda Golf Course parking lot. From the towers, we were able to drop into each of our 4 race stages, which ranged from very mellow blue flow trails like Master Blaster or amazing high speed tech trails like Deep Thought. The Towers is host to the longest and most traditional “Mountain Bike” trails on the mountain. I would guess that you have access to 20+ trails and another 10 or so small “Feature Trails” which are more for fun/sessioning than for riding. If I lived in Spokane, this is where I would spend most of my riding time, mostly because my preferences are fast, technical and steep … Not jumping. From top to bottom, you are gonna spend 4-10 minutes riding downhill if you went full speed without stopping. Obviously this also is depending on which trails you ride.
The other side of Beacon is host to the Downhill race and is one of the most impressive freeride systems I have ever seen. From what I can tell, Spokane is pumping out some amazing young free riders and with this trail network in their backyard, I am not surprised. Access to the second major staging area is through the Camp Sekani Trailhead. Parking is free and seems relatively safe. There are two ways up to the top from here, you can take a very well built trail called “Up Chuck” or just walk right up the mountain. During practice days I saw almost everyone just walking their bikes up to the top of the 385 foot peak. From here you have several drop in options … but they all share one thing in common. Jumping. You can hit a pretty mellow jump line called Stalingrab begins at the top of the downhill courses and ends at the southeast end of Camp Sekani. This trail is apparently Beacon’s most popular trail and was built to be a beginner to intermediate jump line designed to help riders build confidence. I would describe this as Beacons version of Whistler's “Crank It Up”. It’s packed with table tops, step-ups, rollers and berms from beginning to end. On the opposite side of the spectrum there are also expert level jump and technical trails like Bomber or Buck Wild … We hit Bomber during our practice day because this was the second downhill Race course, then quickly decided that while it was fun to ride, we were not ready to race it. One of the biggest drops we have ever seen called the Gerfmore Drop rests between Bomber and Blast Off trails … we have goals to hit this at some point next year. I would say that the Sekani side of Beacon is for young Families who want to take advantage of a well built dirt pump track and flowy jump lines while watching absolutely insane people send 30 foot gap jumps.
Overall I was very pleasantly surprised by just how well developed the trails on Beacon Hill were. They seem very well maintained, are well marked on Trailforks (If not so much at the trailheads themselves) and best of all … You are not gonna be pedaling for hours before you drop in. The trails are very loopable and would make an amazing local destination for the after work crowd. There are endless sections and features to the session and you are more than welcome to use your EMTB. I find myself wishing something like this could be developed in Portland where I live so that I could actually get good riding before or after work.
Climbing Trials - 10/10
Challenging Trails - 10/10
Variety of Trails - 8/10 - Flow, Jump, Rock tech … No roots on the entire mountain
Maintenance - 8/10 - only marked down due to some confusion on trail signs
Family Friendly - 10/10
EMTB - 8/10 - Only marked down because climbing trails are single trek, so it makes towing a little more difficult. (Although we did it with no issues for 3 days)
Trip Worthy -9/10 - Perfect spot for a 3 or 4 day weekend. And worth a 5-7 hour drive or even a flight. You won't get bored
Surrounding area - 2/10 - This was perhaps the biggest issue with the system .. Spokane is just kinda gross. At least the parts I saw.
My Favorite Trail: Deep Thought - Fast Technical Trail