The Frost Fire Mountain Bike Terrain Park trails are now open Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., to provide area bikers with some great runs. Mountain biking has been around for a while and only seems to be gaining in popularity. According to Pembina Gorge Foundation executive board officer Dustin Gorder, it is common for western US ski resorts to incorporate summer mountain bike trails within their winter ski trails.
“It is newer to this area,” Gorder said, “and it’s easier than people think.” Frost Fire has the only downhill mountain bike park in ND, and with the lift to bring you and your bike to the top of the hill, you can ride all day and not have to pedal.
Gorder stated that Frost Fire is a gravity-assisted, downhill-oriented bike park. It currently has one cross country and two downhill flow trails. He said a “flow” trail differs from a cross country trail in that a flow trail is wider and smoother with machine-packed dirt. While all trails have the same 350-foot vertical drop, the easier trails traverse the hill more frequently and therefore are not as steep.
The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) has developed standards to rate trails according to difficulty and assigned a color code for easy identification. Very briefly, the easiest is a white circle, easy/beginner is a green circle, more difficult/intermediate is a blue square, very difficult/advanced is a black diamond, and extremely difficult/expert is a double-black diamond.
The easiest run for beginners at Frost Fire is the green circle downhill flow trail called Bullwheel. While you need to be confident on your bike, it is not a difficult run. The one-mile trail sports bumps and rollers, very little pedaling, and no climbing.
The blue square intermediate downhill flow trail is called Tow Rope. It is about seven-tenths of a mile, steeper, and has about five jumps, although you don’t have to go over the jumps if you don’t want to. Tow Rope has bigger rollers built in, and you can get some speed and “catch some air.” There is no pedaling other than the 20 feet from the top of the chair lift to the trailhead.
The green circle cross country trail is called Uff Da. It runs from the top of the lift to the bottom but can be split in two with a break at the Lodge/Howatt’s Hangar.
Dawn Mandt, executive director of the Red River Regional Council, said that ND Parks and Recreation first developed the trails and then gave them over to the Pembina Gorge Foundation, the 501(c)3 ND nonprofit corporation that owns Frost Fire Park. The grand opening of these first three trails was in 2018.
Frost Fire then received a federal grant, also through ND Parks and Recreation, matched by Cavalier County and Pembina County Job Development Authorities and donations from many community sponsors to develop more bike trails. Two more flow trails and two technical trails – one of which will be an exciting black diamond – are currently under construction. Gorder expects the new trails to be completed in August, making a total of seven mountain bike trails in the park.
The Frost Fire Mountain Bike Trails are for mountain bikes only - no motorized bikes or ebikes (bicycles with electric assist pedaling) are allowed on these trails. There are separate marked trails for hikers. You may also purchase a scenic lift ride where you can hike down to the bottom of the lift, ride the lift twice around taking in the beautiful views, dismount at the top and walk or hike back to the lodge (all downhill).
All riders are required to purchase a full day (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), half day (2 p.m. to 6 p.m.), or season pass to use the downhill mountain trails. An operator at the bottom and top of the lift can help you load and unload your bike. There is a climbing trail for uphill bike traffic, an option if you want to access the park without the lift. A full list of their rates can be found at https://frostfirepark.org/downhill-mtb-trails.
If you would like to try mountain biking at Frost Fire but do not have a bike, they have adult and child bikes for rent, either by the full day or half day. Please call ahead to rent a mountain bike (701-549-3600) as the rental fleet is limited. Helmets are always required.
“It is super family-friendly, and all ages can do it,” said Jeff Mostad, chair of the Pembina Gorge Foundation. He and his family rode the trails recently. “It was a lot of fun. Everybody should get out there and try it.”