DECORUM ON THE DIRT
With approximately 400 miles of continuous, non-motorized trails zig-zagging across Park City, it’s logical to assume there’s plenty of single track for everyone. After all, if Park City’s trails were laid out end to end, they’d stretch from Main Street all the way to Las Vegas. But due to their popularity and growing international acclaim, Park City trails are packed all summer long with residents, visitors, day trippers, tourists and others just passing through. With so many humans recreating on bike, on foot and even on horse, it’s critical for all trail users to practice good manners.
HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO KEEP PEACE ON THE PATH ALL SUMMER LONG.
1. Acknowledge the hierarchy. Horses always have priority, then hikers (regardless if they have a dog or not), then bikers. Assuming the trail you’re on allows each of these users, expect to encounter them and don’t act put out when you do.
Move off the trail for horses on the downhill side if possible. Horses can easily spook; and speaking softly to the rider can help keep them calm. Remember, horses are prey animals and may see dogs as a threat. The best equine etiquette is keeping your dogs leashed, quiet and close to you.
2. Canine courtesy. If you are not in a designated off-leash area, you are required by law to keep your dog(s) on a leash. In Summit County, electronic collars are a permitted substitute for a physical leash. That said, we didn’t earn the nickname “Bark City” because cats are known to freely roam this town.
Many people choose not to leash their dogs, and while this can create problems, it is not acceptable or helpful for a biker or another hiker to play citizen (or canine) cop. Be polite and ask the owner to leash the dog if it makes you uncomfortable. Hitting, kicking, or otherwise hurting a nonaggressive dog is a sure way to turn the owner into Cujo. Basic kindness and respect from all parties can help keep a situation from escalating.
Dog owners should ALWAYS clean up after their dog and properly dispose of poop bags.
3. Leave only tracks, no other trace. In addition to picking up after your pup, pick up aft er yourself too. Apple cores, banana peels and any form of trash should all be packed out with you. Unless you’re running from a charging moose, don’t cut across switchbacks. Doing so erodes trails and damages fragile plant life.
4. Give wildlife a wide berth. Do not “shoo” wildlife off a trail. Wild animals should be given as much space as possible and should never be provoked or harassed. Never separate a mother from its young. If you encounter a predatory animal on the trail, do not run. (Food runs.) Back away slowly, speak softly and stay calm.
5. Tech on the trail. Whether you’re jamming to your favorite playlist or recording an epic stretch of single track, remember you aren’t the only person on the trail. Be aware of your surroundings and other trail users. Be sure you aren’t holding up a line of people you can’t hear because you’ve got the volume at ten. The same rule applies when taking photos. Don’t cause a traffic jam on the trail!
6. Be Nice. Leave your ego at the trailhead. No matter how much you’re crushing your ride or how many Strava followers you have, there is not a trophy at the end of your recreational run or ride. There are no professional hiking scouts in the parking lot. Everyone is out there to have fun and exercise, and many people are at various levels. You were a beginner once too, and someday you’ll be old. Be patient and polite with all users.
Of course, trail selection is just as important as trail etiquette.
HERE ARE SOME LOCAL FAVORITES FOR ALL ABILITIES AND USE:
Round Valley Beginner and Moderate
Located on the eastern edge of Park City, the Round Valley trail system boasts more than 30 miles of single and double track trails. It is also designated off leash, meaning well-behaved pups can frolic freely throughout the 700 acres of protected open space. These trails offer little in the way of shade, so plan to use them at dawn and dust in hotter months.
Mid Mountain Trail More Difficult
Mid Mountain Trail features multiple loop options, stunning view points, and nearly 22 miles of single track. It’s not overly technical, but it is situated at 8,000 feet above sea level, which means the alpine meadows and jagged peaks aren’t the only things that will take your breath away.
Park City: IMBA Epic Difficult
This is the original Park City IMBA Epic Loop, and one of only a handful of area trails to earn that designation. This 26-mile loop begins by climbing up Armstrong Trail to Pinecone Ridge before linking to the Wasatch Crest Trail. From there, take the Crest Connector to Mid Mountain and head over to Canyons Village via Ambush. Your legs and lungs will both be screaming at you by the end!
A complete list of trails, updated conditions, and information can be found at mountaintrails.org