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If a bike trip to northern Montana wasn’t already on your summer list, it definitely should be now. Since late May, Pete Costain’s team of Terra Flow trailbuilders have been hard at work in the woods above Montana’s Flathead Lake, moving dirt, sculpting berms, and crafting jumps for the brand new Legacy Bike Park. The shuttle-run downhill bike park will open to the public on Thursday, with freeride trails, on-site camping, and a remote Montana feel that Costain says is truly unlike anything else in the States.
While new and expanded bike parks are often born out of idle ski resort infrastructure, it’s rare to see a downhill bike park pop up out of thin air, much less a park of this magnitude on a private plot of land. The idea came about after Marty Beale, general contractor and co-owner of Mindful Designs in Whitefish, took a trip to British Columbia to ride the famed Coast Gravity Park, a 160-acre freeride shuttle park on the Sunshine Coast. “It was a long drive back to Whitefish and I couldn’t stop dreaming about what it would be like to have something like Coast in the States. Then it dawned on me: Why not build it here? We’ve got space, mountains, and a supportive riding community.”
Beale’s pipe dream turned into a spreadsheet, which he shared with his Mindful Designs business partners. “I said, ‘This is an insane idea but I just have to show it to you so you can tell me it’s crazy and then I’ll move on.’ To my amazement they looked at it and said, ‘Hey this is a pretty good idea, maybe this could sustain itself.’”
In early 2020, Beale found the perfect site 40 minutes south of Whitefish and called up his friend Pete Costain. Forty acres on the northwest side of Flathead Lake, dense forest with some overgrown logging roads; it was a blank canvas for the Terra Flow team. “When Marty first called me I thought ‘Oh great, another athletic billionaire wants a trail on his property.’ But when we did a walk through of the property and I realized what he wanted to do, I knew this was going to be big.”
The Costain family has left a legacy of singletrack throughout Montana, responsible for hundreds of miles of trail in Whitefish, as well as Bozeman and Big Sky. But the opportunity to start a whole new bike park from scratch on private land is a unique experience that Costain never imagined would fall into his lap. “I like the vibe of not being associated with a ski resort,” says Costain. “In the past we’ve built trails at ski resorts or subdivisions so things like snowmaking, utilities, road crossings are always getting in the way.”
What they traded in freedom from ski resorts they got back tenfold in arduous permitting and extra non-trailbuilding construction like resurrecting old overgrown fire roads and digging out campsites and a base area. But Costain says it’s well worth it. “As a trail builder you want to be building this really cool, kinetic stuff, and once you start building that it’s hard to go back. It’s hard to get that from most projects. The great thing about this job is it’s giving all my guys who always wanted nothing but to build big flow trails the chance to do just that. Everyone is just really stoked.”
Legacy’s vertical relief is 750 feet, with five top-to-bottom trails that run about 1.5 to 2 miles and a total of 13 trails that flow in and out of the main runs. Capacity this summer will be 80 riders per day, with 31 primitive campsites available throughout the park and shuttle rigs that haul riders to the top every 15 minutes. Trails run right through the mid-mountain campsite so riders can hop on singletrack right after breakfast and lap the pumptrack in the evenings when shuttles stop running.
“A bike park like this is something I definitely wish I had when I was a grom,” says Parkin Costain, Pete’s son who has been building trails alongside his dad since he could walk. “I can’t imagine what the kids around here are going to get out of this. I’m excited to contribute to the Montana vibe and help build some progression in the sport.”
For more information on the park, camping and shuttle tickets, head over to legacybikepark.com.