|Cricket knows what mountain bikers want!|
After two years of dreaming, the stars finally aligned. I was just outside of Whitefish, Montana, in a mountain biker's paradise! Cricket Butler, whom I met through racing when she lived in North Carolina, had poured her heart and soul into a 20 acre piece of property that was just a couple pedal strokes away from the 30 mile Whitefish Trail. There was also access to hundreds of miles of single track and forest service roads if you cared to drive anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Whitefish has the Big Mountain, where there is lift access to awesome downhill trails. Glacier National Park is about 45 minutes away.
|Bike Retreat Connector Trail to the left, Whitefish Trail to the right.|
Cricket does not like to expound upon her accomplishments, so I will. She is a Tour Divide and Trans North Georgia finisher and has thru hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail. She is the go to gal for bike packing set ups and TD race advice. The TD route goes right through Whitefish. There is even a secret back door trail off the TD where one could get refueled at the retreat.
|All levels of obstacle riding right out your door.|
|The Berm Trail|
|The Berm Trail|
Four years ago, while raising two sons, she turned this piece of property into a mountain biker's "Walt Disney World." An old horse barn became The Lodge. A dilapidated shack became the Camp Store. Campsites were created. And just this past year, two flow trails, a skills area, and a pump track were born from the earth.
|Old bicycles and parts became functional again.|
In the lodge, there are 6 guest rooms upstairs. You can have your own private room or share a bunk room with others. Downstairs is a fully equipped kitchen where you can prepare your own meals and a common area with couches, a TV, tables, and chairs. Outside, in the back, is a fire pit, where you can congregate at the day's end and swap stories.
If you need a route to ride, just ask. Cricket and her staff know ALL the trails. And if you are riding solo, bring your SPOT, and Crickett will follow your adventure online, making sure you get back safe. Heck, if she has a day off, she might even go along with you!
If you have been to Mulberry Gap, then just consider the Whitefish Bike Retreat the "Mulberry Gap of the West." I highly highly recommend vacationing here. And if you don't, then you are just dumb.