Editor’s Note: Last week you may recall we promised to stop focusing on bike parks and continue writing about pedally trails. Well, turns out we lied. When Binghamton local (and friend of NAD) Josh Anderson told us he had a guest post about Greek Peak’s opening weekend, we thought ‘how can we NOT publish this!?!?’
Words and photos by Josh Anderson
Outside the city of Cortland, NY is Greek Peak Ski Resort, a mountain just under 1000 vertical feet but holds a loyal following of local skiers and snowboarders. Over the past few years Greek Peak has been expanding their summer offerings including a zip line course and year round fat bike trails. All of this is operated out of the Adventure Center.
This year they started building lift serviced mountain biking trails. Anthony Folk and Dylan Blachek, of Roots Trail Development, have been working with Greek Peak building trails throughout this past spring and summer. Currently they have completed one trail, an intermediate trail called Calypso, and are in the process of finishing another unnamed expert trail. There’s also an easy trail, Karyatis Way, which winds its way down the ski slopes and is rideable for anyone who can toss a leg over a bike.
Over the 4th of July weekend Greek Peak decided to do a soft launch just to test the waters and see how feasible a bike park would be. I arrived early to talk to Toby Bonham, the Mountain Manager, and Megan-Mack Nicholson, the Adventure Center Director. Both were eager to see how many people were going to show up on a grey and drizzly day just to ride one trail. They said they were expecting maybe 20 people to show up.
Well the word spread fast and riders from all over the region came to show how excited they were to see a bike park being built right in their backyard. By the end of the day over 60 riders came to ride, comprising all disciplines, from casual XC riders to DH racers, all having a blast despite the slippery mud.
Calypso can be best described as a trail that has a little bit of everything. It starts off with flowy jumps and berms followed by a flat section that winds through the woods and across a ski slope. The trail then transitions into a series of steep off camber loam sections. This was my favorite section, the corners were perfectly set up to slide right into while still keeping your speed up.
Eventually you cross the ski slope in a short uphill sprint and the trail again changes style, this section requiring some pedaling as it winds its way through tight single track. It had rained the whole week and riding this section was sketchy to say the least. The dirt became grease that packed into the treads and by the time I reached the open ski slope leading to the lift my 2.35 tires looked like fat bike tires. Overall, the trail was well thought out and would make an excellent Super-D course. In the dry, trail builder Anthony Folk said his best time down was around 6 minutes.
With the large turnout Greek Peak was able to stress test their operations and the day did have its challenging moments. One of the biggest stumbling blocks was that only one in five lift chairs had a bike hook on in instead of every other lift chair. This left them with a huge backlog of bikes and riders waiting for the rides at the top of the lift. The staff rolled with the punches and almost immediately started shuttling bikes up on ATVs and off-road utility vehicles with the intention to get more lift hooks as soon as possible.
At present there are no downhill bikes for rent, the only available rentals are fat bikes and those are only allowed on the fat bike trails and the green trail. Addressing all of these issues, along with gauging local interest, was the primary purpose of the soft launch.
I will be going back regularly to check in with their progress. Currently lifts are running on Saturday 12pm-5pm but hours will be expanding soon. Over the next year I’ll be writing updates and posting photos of the new happenings at Greek Peak Ski Resort.