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Mountain Bike Paradise: Park City, Utah

Summer is still in full swing in Park City, Utah, even while a monumental mountain resort connection is underway for the winter ski season, there’s still time to get rolling on the area’s top-notch mountain bike terrain.

With over 400 miles of singletrack trails, Park City is the first and only International Mountain Biking Association gold-level ride center in the world. Since 1992, Park City’s Mountain Trails Foundation has been maintaining all the trails, carving out new ones every year. Uphill riding is readily available, and lift-served mountain biking is also easily accessed at Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort.

You can bring your own gear, but full-service bike shops in town like White Pine Touring offer road and mountain bike repairs, rentals and retail goods. White Pine also offers guided rides, as well as weekly, free guided group rides for all ages and abilities.

“There’s an atmosphere of encouragement in Park City — encouragement to get on a bike for the first time, and to experience our trails with the support of people who ride them every day,” says Charlie Sturgis, director of Mountain Trails Foundation.

Deer Valley

If you’re looking for lift-accessed flow trails, and some of the most technical downhill trails in the area, Deer Valley is the resort to ride. The area offers 40 maintained trails totaling nearly 70 miles, including interconnects with other trails that leave the resort. Lift-served access is available across three peaks: Bald Eagle, Bald and Flagstaff, and non-lift served access is available on three additional peaks: Little Baldly, Empire and Lady Morgan.

This summer, Deer Valley has been adding more machine-built trails with the expertise of Gravity Logic, known for their crew that designs and implements wide trails, intelligently sloped with berms, rollers and jumps.

When I visited Park City in June, the top portion of the Tidal Wave trail was complete and ride-ready as a big, new flow section put in by Gravity Logic, accessed from the top of the Sterling Express chairlift and on the way to the recently re-carved, Naildriver trail.

It was my first time riding large, machine-built berms, and it was easier to find the “flow” than I imagined it would be. Each corner was certainly the size of a large wave, but the intimidating section proved to be fun, and only as much of a ride as I wanted to make it. Even beginners will have a great time on these trails. Once a rider finds his or her rhythm, the longer trails like Naildriver can take on that same, seamless flow.

In addition to Deer Valley’s collaboration with Gravity Logic, the resort has also been working with Mountain Trails Foundation to create an extension of Park City’s well-known Mid-Mountain Trail, which traverses the area for 25 miles, at an elevation of about 8,000 feet. The new connection at Deer Valley crosses Silver Lake Village to connect with the Deer Crest trail.

For beginner riders and those two want to tighten up their skills, Deer Valley offers Mountain Bike School for all ages and abilities.

Photo by Zach Mahone
Photo by Zach Mahone

Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort

Our day of riding at Park City Mountain Resort definitely had a more cross-country feel than Deer Valley, and there’s plenty of flow to be found. The area has more than 70 miles of biking trails, with three lifts running for mountain bikers in the summer: Crescent, Pay Day and Town Lift.

Riders can start at Park City Mountain Resort if they want to hit access points of the Mid-Mountain Trail. This resort sits in the heart of Park City, so it’s easy to get on the Town Lift, or stop for lunch on Historic Main Street.

“A lot of the original singletrack in Park City was built on Park City Mountain Resort, so there are a lot of narrow and hand-cut trails for the purists out there,” explains Scott House with White Pine Touring.

I loved hitting the intermediate downhill on the Spiro trail, right into a delicious lunch and a cold beer, enjoyed on the outdoor patio of the Silver Star Cafe.

Head over to Canyons Resort for the only lift-served gravity mountain bike park, with flow trails and both dirt and man-made features. There are two lifts to the bike park — High Meadow and Short Cut, and the park offers lessons by certified Professional Mountain Bike Instructors, with Bike 101 and 201 clinics to help riders develop their skills. For access to cross-country trails, mountain bikers can take the gondola up to the top of Canyons.

“There are some great trail rides from Canyons Resort, but I would say it has really pushed its downhill and bike park program in the last couple of years,” says House.

Beyond The Resorts

Take a break from lift-served access and check out the Round Valley and Glenwild trail systems, set on high-desert singletrack through sage and scrub oak. Hit the Lost Prospector trail for a ride through low oak and aspen tree groves, and head to the Trailside Bike Park for skill-work — it’s free to use, and open to the public from dawn until dusk.

“No matter where you are at in Park City, your garage, condo or hotel is your trailhead,” House says. “I think that’s really unique when you look at mountain bike destinations. There are very few places, if any, where you can access 450-plus miles of trails without having to get in a car.”

House does recommend, however, heading just a little bit farther outside of Park City to find great wilderness-style rides and some “killer” alpine singletrack.

It’s not the mileage that makes Park City a special place to bike, he adds, but the quality of trail, the connectivity, signage, maintenance, trail development and community support that “make Park City a truly amazing cycling destination.”

For information on lodging in the area, visit the Park City Area Lodging Association.

Kim Fuller is a freelance writer based in Vail, Colorado. 

Photo by Zach Mahone
Photo by Zach Mahone
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