Park City is the Only Gold-Level Ride Center in the World
When it comes to mountain biking, no other town in the world can claim to offer an experience like Park City. This past fall, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) designated Park City as the only gold-level Ride Center in the world, recognizing this small Utah town for its bike-friendly community and stellar two- wheeled trails. With more than 400 miles of twisty singletrack trails that wind through the area, the total mileage—and variety—is undeniably exceptional.
Plan Your Ride
After a rainy summer storm, check out the local trail conditions and take note of which trails are dry—and which ones to steer clear of—with Basin Recreation’s online trail report at basinrecreation.org. Dirt conditions for many Snyderville Basin trails and a few popular Mid-Mountain connectors in Park City-proper are updated daily to help you plan your route before leaving home.
Basin Recreation, basinrecreation.org, 435-649-1564
Regardless of what trail you choose, don’t forget to pick up a comprehensive map of the Park City trails at any of the local bike shops in town. With over 400 miles of trails to choose from, this Mountain Trails Foundation map will come in handy when you’re standing at a crossroad and pondering the one less traveled.
Mountain Trails Foundation, mountaintrails.org, 435-649-6839
The extensive criterion that’s required to become a Ride Center includes much more than simply having diverse terrain nearby. All aspects of Park City’s mountain bike community were evaluated on a 100-point system: accessible trailheads, convenient transportation, ample bike shops, post-ride activities and bike-friendly amenities like lodging and restaurants were all considered. Park City’s 96-point score, which is the highest Ride Center grade to date, reaffirms just how seriously we take our fat tire haven. “No location better exemplifies the Ride Center ideal of offering great options for any level of rider and any style of riding,” says Ryan Schutz, Regional Director of IMBA.
While the gold-level options for mountain biking are endless, your vacation, sadly, is not. Here, Park City’s most trusted bike experts reveal their favorite bicycling adventures and insider’s knowledge to navigating the area’s trails. So whether you have a few hours or a few days, you’ve got all the resources to know where to go, what to do and how to do it.
The staple of Park City biking exists in the form of spiraling dirt trails that climb and descend for miles in every direction. Ample choices help keep traffic to a minimum, but poll a few locals and they’ll unanimously agree on a few standout trails that shouldn’t be missed.
From packed gravel to swooping switchbacks, Round Valley is a classic and fun introduction to mountain biking. Bikers can pick and choose their routes from roughly 30 miles of trails, which offers the perfect blend of terrain to help riders build their skill. “It’s challenging for the advanced beginner,” says Scott House of White Pine Touring. But, he notes, it also packs a quick thrill for intermediates with limited time.
The Crest Trail is classic ride for more advanced mountain bikers. Steep ridgelines and a few punishing climbs reward riders with high alpine panoramas that can’t be beat. “It has, arguably, the best views in Utah,” says House. “A sunset ride on the Crest is about as epic as you can get.”
Taking a chairlift is an easy way up the hill, but the downhill rewards are just as sweet. Cross-country bikers can eliminate a chunk of climbing by hopping on Town Lift at Park City Mountain Resort for quick access to the city’s notorious Mid-Mountain Trail. From here, many riders can choose to explore other trailheads at higher elevations along the Wasatch Back, like the Shadow Lake loop that’s nuzzled below the 10,000-foot Jupiter Peak. A whirlwind of family-friendly activities, including a zip-line and alpine coaster, are located at the base of Payday Lift, which also carries riders and their bikes to higher altitudes.
Deer Valley Resort offers the largest quantity of lift-served biking trails in Utah, serving up 65 miles of biking and hiking trails for all levels of two-wheeled fanatics. Full-face helmets and protective pads are a common sight among the downhill bikers who flock to the resort’s black and double black-rated trails for a rush of adrenaline. Intermediate cross-country bikers, however, find just as much pleasure pedaling the fun dirt trails that cut through rolling meadows and lush forests. For 2012, five new miles of intermediate trails will open on Ruby Lift. deervalley.com, 435-649-1000
After years of planning, Canyons has introduced Utah’s first gravity-fed flow trails, crammed with high-flying jumps and smooth banked turns. Three wide, buffed trails quietly opened last fall, and encourage rippin’ descents combined with a little BMX flair. Golden Eagle, a new flow trail, will open later this summer for a free-flowing descent all the way to the base village, and beginners—including youth—wanting to learn how to freeride will enjoy Canyons’ Mountain Bike 101 clinic, which includes a lift ticket, bike rental and a lesson.
Have a day to spare? Head north to Snowbasin Resort, where more than 25 miles of biking trails link up with an additional 18 miles of neighboring Forest Service trails. Gondola- serviced terrain provides access to challenging uphill climbs and steep downhill switchbacks from the top of Needles, while lower mountain loops supply novice riders with rolling alpine views. For one-way rides that end at designated Forest Service trailheads, Snowbasin’s weekend shuttle service (free with a gondola ticket or bike rental) returns hikers and bikers back to the resort’s base area twice daily.
Many family-friendly urban trails are found throughout Park City and blend pavement with gravel for a fun off-road summer outing. Unlike technical mountain bike trails, however, these multi-use paths are idyllic for the leisurely explorer who wants to discover Park City’s small town charm and eccentric traits on the wheels of a retro ride. Classic cruiser bikes can be rented from numerous local bike shops and tout major comfort while coasting along postcard-worthy byways. “These bikes are all about fun,” says Todd Fischer, owner of Silver Star Ski & Sport. “Some even have cup holders and bottle openers” just for fun, he explains.
The gentle Historic Rail Trail spans 28 miles and lets history buffs retrace the route of a nineteenth-century railroad line that once transported silver from the now abandoned mines of Park City. More than a dozen plaques are dotted throughout the trail to provide curious minds with a lesson on the area’s significant events and landmarks. Poison Creek Trail, a local favorite for its pedestrian- friendly access to Old Town, wanders parallel to Main Street and City Park and is filled with sculptures, murals and an amusing shoe tree display for all to wonder. Wildlife enthusiasts will undoubtedly spot a few native species along the McLeod Trail, as it curves around wetlands, over bridges and through farmland for a peaceful afternoon roll.
AUGUST 7-12, 2012
America’s toughest stage race visits Park City on the final leg of the Tour of Utah. This six-stage road race features relentless climbs that traverse the state’s high mountain passes and attract top cyclists from around the world. The Queen Stage, which begins in Park City, covers 100 miles and is considered the most grueling stage of the race.
SEPTEMBER 1, 2012
The Park City Point 2 Point showcases the town’s best singletrack during this fourth annual endurance mountain bike race. Spanning 78 miles and accumulating 14,000 total feet of vertical elevation, this race brings out ambitious riders from across the globe for an all-day pedal fest in Park City. But if the course isn’t intimidating enough, consider this: 350 racers snagged up this year’s registration slots in three minutes.
In a town filled with lush aspens and rugged peaks, it seems unlikely that asphalt would be a top choice for cyclists. But the thigh-busting elevation changes are precisely why Park City attracts the spandex-clad roadies and skinny tires. County roads lead out of Park City and meander through sleepy towns and along high desert hills. One of Summit County’s most diverse road rides loops through the neighboring towns of Kamas, Oakley and Browns Canyon before returning to Park City.
Old Ranch Road, a shorter, in-town ride, skirts by the Swaner Nature Preserve, while a demanding climb up Marsac Ave. towards Guardsman Pass reveals multi-million dollar views (literally). “There’s a lot of opportunity for scenic riding and big climbs and descents,” Scott Ford of Cole Sport affirms. “Temperature, altitude, routes: they all play together to make an ideal cycling area.”
Celebrate your two-wheeled triumphs— or tribulations—over a locally crafted beer at Squatters Roadhouse. With brews like the Full Suspension Pale Ale on tap, you and your biking cronies will feel right at home. Shareable nachos are piled high with all your favorites, and pub specialties from the Tabouleh Quinoa Salad to the House Tacos are sure to fit any mood.
1900 Park Ave., 435-649-9868
Before heading out on a ride, stop by Nature’s Wraps and create your own healthy burrito or wrap concoction for a to-go lunch. Try the Asian Persuasion tofu wrap or the Long Ride, which has the perfect balance of carbs and proteins to refuel your energy levels. These portable wraps are backpack- friendly, too, and perfect for a mountaintop picnic.
1300 Snow Creek Dr., 435-649-9000
Cyclists have a new option for a quick on-hill bite at Red Pine Lodge, located mid-mountain at Canyons, this summer. Rather than sitting down to a formal lunch, head inside for some of Canyons’ most popular victuals, served up cafeteria style for convenience, and take a seat alfresco. But don’t expect to linger too long: alpine views and ecstatic bikers will beckon you to gobble down a snack and get back on the trails, pronto.
Enjoy a post-ride beer with fellow bikers (of the motor and human- powered varieties) atop No Name Saloon’s sunny rooftop deck. Take it from the locals—this eccentric Main Street watering hole has a personality of its own.
447 Main St., 435-649-6667
A stop inside the Shooting Star Saloon, Utah’s oldest bar, is mandatory after a day of wheeling at Snowbasin Resort. Just don’t expect any gastro-pub cuisine at this Huntsville establishment. With a menu limited to a few hamburgers and a couple of domestic macro beers on tap, the bar doesn’t acknowledge special orders and enforces a cash-only policy. But the cherished Star Burger, a heart-stopping stack of two beef patties, a bratwurst, cheese and all the fixins, entices the curious (and hungry) traveler to make a stop. And curiosity is a delicious thing.
7350 E 200 S, Huntsville, 801-745-2002