Adventure Guide: The trail to the high life
The region has something to offer mountain bikers of all skill levels.
If Park City is known primarily for its snow sports in the winter, in the summer we offer an abundance of amazing trails for mountain biking, hiking and trail running. According to Charlie Sturgis, who recently stepped down as executive director of the nonprofit Mountain Trails Foundation, the Park City area has strengths few, if any, others can match.
“The well-roundedness of the trail system, for one,” he said. “We have everything from beginner to advanced trails. Plus you have the connectivity.”
By that Sturgis means accessibility. After all, it’s one thing to have an amazing trail system, but if it’s difficult to reach, not many will use it. That’s not the case in Park City.
“Connecting the community to the trails, there’s the transportation system to get you there and there’s the ski lifts to get you up the mountain,” he said. “It’s all encompassing.”
The trail system in Park City, which now includes more than 450 miles of trail, has grown “exponentially” over the years, Sturgis said, to the point now where it’s a major driver of tourism.
“We are operating at the level of a national park right now in terms of visitation in the summer, and that is just a wild influx of people,” he said. “That’s our town’s bread and butter, and we embrace it.”
Sturgis said those who are new to the area should head straight to Round Valley. It’s easy to get to, he said, and it features plenty of signage and trails from the beginner to intermediate level. And it’s the right kind of intermediate, too.
“It doesn’t have substantial consequences if you make a mistake,” he said. “Whereas somewhere like Mid Mountain Trail, if you fall you could really be in trouble. Round Valley is just a great sampling of what you’ll find in the Park City area.”
Ride within your ability, Sturgis said. And most of all, have fun. You won’t find a better trail system in the world.
To learn more visit mountaintrails.org.
WHERE TO START?
Mountain Trails Foundation’s field manager, Rick Fournier, joked that he’d share his favorite trails but then he’d “have to kill” whoever heard him.
“Seriously, though, I love all the old-school hand-built trails,” he said. “Sweeney’s, John’s, John’s ‘99, Little Chief and Gravedigger. I think that the new 9K trail that we completed last season will be a real game-changer going forward. Besides being a great trail on it’s own, it will really open up some amazing loop options up high.”
For beginners, the best place to go really is Round Valley. Head in at the Quinn’s Junction area and you’ll have plenty of parking, bathrooms and access to a variety of terrain, from beginner to intermediate.
You should also check out the Flying Dog north of I-80, a 25-mile trail system maintained by Basin Recreation. The trails are mostly intermediate with sustained climbs and a few technical sections that are great for riders looking to make the jump to the advanced level.
For advanced riders, Mountain Trails Foundation recommends Mid Mountain and Wasatch Crest trails, which will take you between the Park City and Canyons Village base areas of Park City Mountain Resort and feature serious challenges.
If you’re hitting the trails in Park City, there are a few simple guidelines you’ll want to keep in mind. First and foremost, Sturgis said, is the 10 seconds of kindness principle extolled by Mountain Trails Foundation.
“Take 10 seconds to slow down, smile and be safe when you pass people,” said. “It’s really not complicated.”
OFF THE BEATEN PATH
When we say the Park City area has amazing trails, we don’t just mean Park City. We mean the whole region. Venture outside of Park City, head over to South Summit and you’ll find less traveled but just as satisfying trails to scratch your mountain biking itch.
Centered roughly around Oakley and maintained by the South Summit Trails Foundation, there are several trail systems on the east side worth checking out. The Oakley City Trail Park is a good place to start, with lots of beginner and intermediate terrain. From there, head over to the Tuhaye Trails off Highway 248.
To really push yourself, head up the Mirror Lake Highway to Shingle Creek, a six-mile trail with very technical terrain and some unrideable areas, great for expert mountain bikers.
To learn more visit southsummittrails.org.
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