While known for the all-time winter activities, Sun Valley shines equally as bright in the summer. From biking and hiking to paragliding and paddleboarding, Sun Valley’s warmer months continually deliver the goods. Pro skier, Andy Mahre and his pro photographer fiancé, Shannon Skouras, traded in their skis in favor of mountain bikes & paddleboards to seek-out the post-snow side of things here in the Sun Valley area. Dive in for a deeper look at how these two took on our summer playground.
As the morning breeze cooled my cheeks, I gazed out the window and watched the sunbeams peek through the trees outside. It’s 7am on an August morning in Sun Valley and the anticipation of the day ahead was keeping me from sleeping another wink. My fiancé, Andy Mahre, and I came to town to visit friends, to explore and to enjoy a mountain town that is truly like none other — and we left only wishing we had more time to stick around and play.
The first adventure of the day took us to Eve’s Gulch. Our friends and tour guides for the day, Collin Collins and Todd Bracher, led the way to the trailhead. Up we pedaled – through winding single-track littered with mini rock gardens and gnarly roots, around switchbacks, through burn zones and past vibrant wildflowers surrounded by lush green foliage. Smiles, cold water and snacks were shared at the top as the excitement grew for the upcoming descent. When the time came to drop in, I headed down first – making sure to have time to set up a shot that I saw on the pedal up. The boys came down the trail, one after the other, enjoying the fruits of their labor. After getting a few shots, I quickly packed my camera up and hopped on my bike. Andy was just around the next corner waiting for me so that we could enjoy the ride (and shoot more photos) together. As both professional photographers and athletes, Andy and I take our cameras on all of our adventures – and definitely mix our work with a big dose of fun. Following each other through the forest, we wound through perfectly spaced trees, hopped off of natural hips, flowed through whoops and massive berms and aired over big tabletops. All of a sudden we were at the bottom, surrounded by the rest of the crew… and all that I remember thinking was: “More, please!”
After riding back to the house and getting some well-deserved grub, we decided to load up our stand-up paddleboards in the car and make the trek over Galena Pass. Past ranches and tree-covered mountainsides and along the flowing waters of the Salmon we made our way to Alturas Lake. The drive was well worth the beauty that awaited us when we walked down to the shores of this majestic lake. After hopping on our boards, we enjoyed the view from the water – mountain peaks served as the backdrop to the crystal clear and completely calm waters of this hidden gem. The sun warmed our skin as we paddled over to the opposite shore to explore the sandy beach that beckoned us from afar. As the sun began to set behind the mountains, we headed back to our car to load up the boards. Our hungry bellies wouldn’t be ignored any longer — back to Ketchum we drove, our taste buds eagerly awaiting another outstanding dinner at La Cabanita Mexican Restaurant.
A good night’s sleep in the cool mountains of Ketchum rejuvenated us for yet another day of adventure in Sun Valley. As we headed to the Gondola at the base of Bald Mountain, a few more of our friends met up with us for a fun day of lift-assisted mountain biking. A scenic Gondola ride followed by a quick lift up the Christmas Chair dropped us at the top of the bike trails — and boy was the view spectacular. As we rode down the Broadway Saddle Trail I found myself stopping to enjoy the beauty of my surroundings. There were tree-speckled mountains as far as the eye could see. In the foreground, wildflowers danced in the summer breeze and the vibrant green and yellow foliage popped against the baby blue sky. Andy and I couldn’t help but smile as we chased each other down the fast and scenic trail that slowly traversed around the mountainside.
After meeting up with the rest of the crew at the bottom of the Saddle Trail, we all dropped into Sun Valley’s newest gem – The Lupine Flow Trail. One after the other we pumped through whoops, popped over jumps and rallied berms. Down we went, eventually linking up with the mountain’s other flow trail – Saddle-Up. Giggling like little school kids and with smiles stuck on our faces, the stoke level was high when we reached the bottom of the trail. After a solid round of high fives we all descended down to the bottom of the Christmas Chair, eager to check out what other sweet trails this mountain had in store for us.
From technical XC single-track rides to fast, flowy jump trails, scenic rivers and streams to majestic mountain lakes, Andy and I had a blast exploring the beauty and terrain that Sun Valley has to offer. The friendly people, the fun and energetic town, the never-ending mountains and valleys that are always calling you to come out and play – this place is truly like no other. And when you visit Sun Valley, I can pretty much guarantee that you will never want to leave… I know we didn’t.