Mountain Trails opens new trail off of Rail Trail |

Mountain Trails opens new trail off of Rail Trail

Freemason Trail provides easier path to Lost Prospector

The Mountain Trails Foundation officially unveiled its new addition, the Freemason Trail, on Monday afternoon. The trail was built to provide easier access to the Lost Prospector loop. From left are Henrik Peters, Chris Vanderlinde and other crew members from Mountain Trails, Andy Beerman, Katie Wilking-Clinard, Charlie Sturgis and Clay Karz.

It's a problem many mountain bikers and trail users in Park City have to deal with: Deer Valley Drive.

Many in town know the road can get cluttered with traffic, making it difficult to cross the street to get to up to the Lost Prospector Loop.

In order to remedy the issue, the Mountain Trails Foundation opened up the new Freemason Trail on Monday afternoon. The trail is roughly 100 yards away from the Rail Trail trailhead in Park City, just east of White Pine Touring.

"The main rationale (to build the trail here) was to come up with an alternative to access to Lost Prospector," said Rick Fournier, field manager for Mountain Trails. "Currently, there's only the one, which is Skid Row and it's fairly steep and windy. There's a lot of switchbacks."

On Monday, Fournier — along with Mountain Trails' Executive Director Charlie Sturgis, Park City councilman Andy Beerman, Park City's Property Real Estate Trails & Open Space Manager Henrik Peters, Mountain Trails' board member Katie Wilking-Clinard and the rest of the crew that worked on the trail — gathered at the new trailhead to mark its official opening.

The idea was to make Lost Prospector user friendly, Fournier said. Instead of having to take a handful of trails and cross a couple of streets to get to the loop, there is now one easy way to get there.

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"This eliminates the need to [switch trails] and provides a really nice climbing single track to get up to Lost Prospector," Fournier said.

After speculating where the best place would be to put this new 1.52-mile trail, Fournier and company decided to place it off of the Rail Trail.

"We wanted to be able to incorporate as much of Lost Prospector as possible," Fournier said. "So by contouring from [the Rail Trail] and making our way around — basically running parallel uphill of Deer Valley Drive — we were able to get it right to within a couple hundred feet of the start of Lost Prospector, which made a lot of sense."

Creating the trail didn't come without its challenges.

There were heavy vegetation and dense bushes that were lopped and whacked by hand. And for three weeks, machine work was done along the hillside of Deer Valley Drive.

"That whole hillside is pretty rock laden," said Chris Vanderlinde, the main machine operator with Mountain Trails. "The option of rolling a rock downhill is really not there, so we had to be extremely careful not to roll any rocks. That was probably the most difficult part."

With a new trail — or any trail for that matter — Fournier and company want to remind trail users that trails should be used with caution.

Though Fournier admitted rain could certainly help pack down the currently loose dirt, staying off of the trail while wet will help the new trail thrive. Additionally, basic trail etiquette, such as not cutting corners or skidding tires, can go a long way.

"Just avoid being on the trail in wet conditions," Fournier said. "Nothing creates erosion damage more than biking and hiking in wet, muddy conditions, especially with a new trail. It's super susceptible."

Mountain Trails is excited about the new addition to its trails, and it hopes trail users will follow suit.

"I think it turned out great," Fournier said. "Chris did a great job of machine work. The crew did a fantastic job on the hand work.

"It was a great team effort."

Mountain Trails is also working a number of other projects currently. The organization has extended Dawns Trail to Spiro, which remains foot traffic only, while it is also expected to finish up a casual up-only trail for bikes in Round Valley by the end of this week.