Terraflow Trails uses a John Deere 50G Compact Excavator to shape biking trails for Big Sky Resort in Montana.

Pete Costain, owner of Terraflow Trail Systems, excavates dirt and rock on with a John Deere 50G mini excavator at Big Sky Resort in Montana. PHOTO BY DOUG HARE

Pete Costain looks at dirt differently than other people. Within a few minutes of meeting him at the top of Big Sky Resort’s Swift Current chairlift, he’s pointing out gradations in the soil content, talking about trail-finding techniques, explaining the topology of building intermediate berms that will also be fun for experts.

Then he climbed aboard a John Deere 50G compact mini excavator to show off his craft in action. “As far as trail building at the resort, I’m a firm believer in building trails that riders will only get to experience in a resort environment,” Costain said. “Why build trails that mimic what riders can find in their backyard? Whether the quality of jumps and berms, creativity of line, or epic views, resort riding should leave an impression.”

According to Explore Big Sky, in summer 2016, Terraflow Trails finished one of the resort’s most popular lift-access trails, called Snake Charmer. Dropping eastwards off of Andesite Mountain, the first true flow trail at the resort boasts smooth berms that cascade through lodgepole pines and, according to Costain, has helped boost lift tickets sales for the resort.

After Terraflow Trails wrapped up the Ralph’s Pass project, they built the Ninja Marmot jump line at the resort, and now they’re working on the Blue Flow trail in conjunction with Big Sky Resort’s trail crew.

“Even though the Ninja Marmot may be intimidating to many riders, in my opinion, it will be an achievable goal to many downhill riders that are mastering the jumps on Snake Charmer,” Costain said.

“The future of riding is bright in Big Sky,” he added. “All development parties seem to be in agreement that mountain biking is a key component of Big Sky’s future. We are definitely in the running with Targhee and Jackson, as evidenced by the amount of Wyoming plates in town with bikes!”