Another trail to the top |

Another trail to the top

David HampshireThe Park Record

The local mountain-biking community has been buzzing this month: You can now reach the Wasatch Crest Trail through Park City Mountain Resort without going up "Puke Hill."

As its name suggests, the iconic Wasatch Crest Trail follows the Wasatch Mountain ridgelines dividing Summit and Salt Lake counties, linking Bonanza Flat to the upper reaches of Millcreek Canyon east of Salt Lake City. Up until now, one of the most popular well, maybe that’s the wrong word local access points was via a steep two-track road through Scott’s Bowl that became known, for obvious reasons, as Puke Hill.

Now there’s an alternative. A ceremony at Silver Star at Park City Thursday morning marked the official opening of the Pinecone Trail, a four-mile link connecting the 8,000-foot Mid-Mountain Trail to the Wasatch Crest Trail near the summit of Scott Hill. By taking the existing Armstrong Trail from the base of the resort to the Mid-Mountain Trail, riders and hikers can now reach the Wasatch Crest Trail via a scenic, carefully planned 10-mile route.

Many didn’t wait for the grand opening. Jay Burke, one of the speakers at Thursday’s ceremony, said he was getting ready to ride it for the fifth time. "It’s a phenomenal trail," he said in an interview before the grand opening. "It rides so well, both up and down. And that trail, up on the top part of it, is multidirectional for all users. It’s not like Armstrong down lower where it’s just ‘up’ for bikers."

Burke is best known locally as the event director of the Park City Point 2 Point race. But he is also the board chair of the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District, which handled the planning of the new trail, and he manages social media for the Mountain Trails Foundation. So he’s well informed on the latest trail projects, including this one.

"A good friend of mine has dubbed it Armcone you know, riding Armstrong to Pinecone," he laughed. "But you put these two (trails) together and it creates easily one of the marquee trails in the West. It is that good of a trail."

Speaking at the official opening, Senta Beyer, trails project manager for Basin Recreation, said the trail didn’t happen overnight. "I think it took us roughly two years to work on the design and the collaboration in order to make this happen."

She said a critical component was the participation of the three primary landowners, The Colony/Iron Mountain Associates, Jack Gallivan, and Talisker. "A lot of this falls back on the partnerships and the landowners because, as we all know, 99 percent of the property that we have here in Summit County is private property."

The final design and construction of the trail was turned over to Troy Duffin whose company, Alpine Trails LLC, has been in business since 1994. At the ceremony, Duffin gave credit to The Colony for making allowances for a trail in its early development plans.

"We also forget The Colony was one of the original instigators in the Mid-Mountain Trail. And they made a point of allowing us to put that trail where it would best work as a trail, regardless of their development plans at that point, which is pretty darn amazing when you think about that."

Duffin also talked about the challenges of working within the restrictions dictated by the terrain and of trying to create a fun, twisty course that includes good viewpoints and crosses the ridges in the right places. And then, he said, there are the private-property issues.

"I mean, you want to do a beautiful trail in the (National) Forest, great! You just have this clean open slate. Around here, we’re going to want to do a beautiful trail? Oops! We’ve got a different property owner we don’t have permission from. We’ve got to turn back."

In the interview, Burke couldn’t say enough about the route that Alpine Trails had chosen a steady 6-7 percent climb up the ridge overlooking the resort.

"It stays on what I would say is the north side of the ridge there, of Pinecone Ridge proper, in Park City Mountain Resort, which is heavily forested. It’s beautiful. The way Troy and the Alpine Trails team got that to go through there, it is just killer. You’re never out exposed anywhere. You’re always in the trees. It’s a cool ride on our hottest days in Park City. It’s going to be definitely a favorite on hot days."

If you think this is cool, just wait until you see what’s coming up, Duffin said at the ceremony.

"We can’t share a lot of details, unfortunately, until these things come out. But stay tuned. Because, in years to come, the Rec District has a whole lot more cool stuff on the docket. And it’s just going to keep on popping up."

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