PCMR, Mountain Trails Foundation partnership expands to other trail groups

Nonprofits in Kamas and Heber City will soon benefit from Vail Resorts grant program

A partnership between Park City Mountain Resort parent company Vail Resorts and Mountain Trails Foundation will soon benefit two other trail organizations. Those involved said it will bring economic stability through tourism of new and maintained trails as well as establish the future of the trail system along the Wasatch Back.
David Jackson/Park Record

A longstanding partnership between the Mountain Trails Foundation and Park City Mountain Resort has led to a new collaboration that will benefit area nonprofits with a similar mission.

As the community partner of PCMR, Mountain Trails Foundation receives a donation every year through parent company Vail Resorts EpicPromise Foundation. The charitable initiative gives $1 from every online transaction to the Park City-based nonprofit. A recent increase in proceeds inspired Mountain Trails Foundation to give the extra money to other trail organizations.

Through the joint venture, the South Summit Trails Foundation and the Wasatch Trails Foundation will receive professional expertise and financial support, according to Lora Smith, the executive director of Mountain Trails Foundation. The organization will keep half of the money received through the guest donation program and plans to distribute the rest to the two groups.

“We’re really grateful to PCMR and Vail’s EpicPromise for allowing this vision to bubble up. We’re super excited about that,” Smith said. “Mountain Trails is proud to be the funding mechanism that allows a public amenity like our trails system to exist and thrive. We are just such a fortunate community.”

Vail Resorts often chooses an outdoor group as a community partner based on its commitment to investing in places where employees live and recreate, Smith said. Many PCMR employees live in Kamas or Heber City, which are areas of focus for the South Summit Trails Foundation and the Wasatch Trails Foundation.

With complaints of trail overcrowding building in recent years and continuous growth in the outdoor recreation industry, Mountain Trails Foundation is focused on better connecting the trail system in Summit County and dispersing people throughout it as use increases.

“If we can build trails in the outlying areas, it helps with congestion in the Park City area. It’s kind of just this win-win scenario where the smaller communities that don’t have access to the wealth that we have here in Park City, they can benefit,” Smith said.

Park City has more than 400 miles of trails, half of which are managed by the Mountain Trails Foundation, but not all the paths are linked to nearby communities. With users spread out over a larger trail system, there’s less wear-and-tear on Park City’s trails. 

And groups like the South Summit and Wasatch trails foundations can provide valuable insight into diversifying the trail system, even if they don’t have the same financial resources or professional experience as Mountain Trails Foundation. 

“As we look at the Wasatch Back, what we would like to see is a connected trail system between the communities. For example, the Heber Valley has the WOW Trail. The WOW Trail is not connected to Bonanza Flat yet, but we would like it to be because if we can connect the trail system, people can stay in their neighborhoods and effectively ride one big trail system rather than have to drive into Park City and take them from here,” Smith said.

Bikers ride down the WOW Trail in Wasatch State Park just below Bonanza Flats, heading towards Midway. Mountain Trails Foundation plans to partner with two other nonprofits with a similar mission to improve the connectivity of Summit County’s trail system.
David Jackson/Park Record

A committee made up of representatives from the trail organizations, PCMR or other community groups is expected to form within the next three months to strategize how the grant funds are dispersed to each project. Mountain Trails Foundation can help coordinate funding for the smaller groups while leveraging 30 years of trail building and maintenance experience with the knowledge the South Summit and Wasatch trails foundations have about what residents need and want in their respective communities. 

Those involved in the collaboration say it will bring economic stability through tourism of new and maintained trails as well as establish the future of the trail system along the Wasatch Back.

Scott House, the executive director of Wasatch Trails Foundation, said the group is honored to be a part of the collaboration. The organization doesn’t have any specific projects in mind for the new partnership, but House said the nonprofit excited about the future opportunities the grant program will allow them to pursue.

“We can’t thank our partners at Mountain Trails Foundation, South Summit Trails Foundation, Park City Mountain and Vail EpicPromise for allowing us to be a part of leading the way on Wasatch Back regional collaboration and the opportunity to expand and connect trails for the Wasatch Back Community,” he said.

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