Earlier this year we were invited to ski in Park City, Utah on their “greatest snow on earth.” This claim that Utah has made would make a plausible cause for anyone to move to the area or tackle the slopes, but while on the InterConnect tour our guide Deb Lovci (a pillar of the ski community) told us the real reason she and so many others moved there: mountain biking. Returning to Park City in the summer isn’t nearly as busy as ski season, but there are still lines for the lifts (used to haul bikers to the top) and the energy of those riding is just as lively as the powder pigs of the winter. And the 400 plus miles of trail system that supports Park City is considered to be some of the best single track in the world.
“There are other places in the country that have as much single track as we do, but they don’t have the variety,” says Scotty House, one of our bike guides with White Pine Touring. “We have such varied terrain and it’s just about all connected. Almost all the trail in Park City is multi-use,” he continues. With a few exceptions, specifically bike only trails, at Deer Valley, Park City Resort and Canyons Village (which are resorts that offer lift service for MTB), this means visitors can pick up a ride from almost anywhere.
Our mountain bike journey of the Park City trails began at the aforementioned White Pine Touring (one of the oldest guide outfits in Park City). There, we were fitted for bikes and given gear if needed. Among us were everyone from families with young children to more experienced riders visiting the area solely to ride. After getting sorted, we were taken to Round Valley: a fantastic trail system that is considered open space, and has conservation easements that keeps it protected under the Summit Land Conservancy. It also features Trailside Bike Park which consists of two pump tracks, flow trail and jumps. The park was partially funded by a Summit County Restaurant Tax Grant. Phase 1 was completed in 2011 with another expansion to its current form in 2014. In laymen’s terms, the tax payers voted to pay for it because most of them use it.
Our next day consisted of the groomed trails of Deer Valley, such as the infamous “Tidal Wave” made by Gravity Logic last year. These groomers offered an exhilarating way to ride with lift service—just like a ski resort, we did laps all day and of course had an “apres ride” at the mountain’s base.
“Accommodations in Park City are ubiquitous” says Jason Jones, our guide from Deer Valley. “Many of the trails put you right near Main Street or other local hot spots for post-ride food and entertainment. I grew up in nearby Salt Lake City and have been working and riding here since 1998. Over the years new trails have popped up everywhere. Most of the trails are intermediate friendly and have caused a significant influx of visitors and new riders. These new trails support the increased traffic nicely but the raw and wild experience of being able to lose yourself in the solitude of the mountains is significantly decreased, although there are still places.”
For our final ride, we woke up early to ride the 14 plus miles of The Crest Trail. The Crest, a local favorite, traverses the Wasatch ridge through forest, red clay, and rocky spines with epic dusty switch backs. Early in the morning, one can find a true backcountry vibe. Juniper and sage filled the air, with stunning vistas of the Cottonwoods and Park City on the other side. The Crest is certainly one of the most beautiful trails in the world.
After 60 plus miles of mountain biking, we were sad to leave the Wasatch and knew exactly what brought so many to the area. Luckily, mountain biking in Park City is the summer’s attraction and visitors can be satisfied, because if Utah’s snow is Champagne, then Utah’s dirt is a drug.
Images by Rebekah Stevens