Just for the Weekend: Mountain Biking in Park City, Utah
A friend and I had made plans to go down to Park City from our small mountain town up North roughly four and a half hours away to hit what I have heard as endless mountain bike singletrack. Around 4:30pm on Friday, my friend unfortunately for him bailed for good reason, to go do his job as a wildland firefighter.
Back to what I said before, unfortunate for him that he was forced to bail, as the hype is real for PC riding. It’s unbelievable.
In our little town that we live, we have some quality riding but it has not been fully developed as an area. Whereas, PC has been and looking at a trail map will make your head spin to what you should ride.
With only 36 hours on this trip I wanted to make sure to get the best fill that I could get. This really only worked because I had a tour guide, and friend, showing me what he rides.
Got into Park City around 10:00am and headed up to the Deer Valley parking lot. With thoughts in my head of what Deer Valley represents during the ski season – posh, classy, expensive, $10 beers, family-friendly skiing – I was a little skeptical of the riding. As I have only been riding for about 2 years now, I have not been to a lot of lift-served resorts but I do remember hearing a friend saying, “Mellow resorts make for some of the gnarliest mountain biking.” So I took a chance.
We grabbed our day tickets at $42 a pop, “ouch,” and headed to the lifts. Looking over the left and right sides of the chair you see a wide array of options to ride. I cannot ever tell what it looks tough from the chair, so I usually wait until my two tires hit dirt for judgment.
My initial thought process on the resort in the Winter was quickly challenged after the first turn. Without getting into every line we got into I will just mention the highlights. We headed for Tidal Wave on our warm up and hit fast as lightning banked turns to a jump set. The jump sets I thought were more mellow than I am accustomed to but at the speed you are traveling it was safely exciting as they shoot you out more than up. The main highlight was Aspen Slalom. This was our techy line of the day and it is not what I expected. Continuous step downs, to step downs on turns – a line that made you think exponentially quicker than you would on a flow trail. Fun, but a different kind of fun. Also, last line to note, we hit the man-made features on their “Freeride” course, which for me I have never ridden before, so that was an “interesting” time for me. Last ride of the day, exhausted, was a family-style ride. Nothing crazy to write home about. Worth noting though, considering that it has some of the scariest stuff I have been on but also has something for beginners to enjoy as well.
In the end, we rode 6 laps in roughly 5 hours. We hit a small fraction of what Deer Valley has to offer. That was it for me, and I was stoked to take off my full face helmet and pull my hands off my bars as they were stuck in the “claw” position. Fortunately, it was the perfect position for holding a post-ride beer which was gravely needed after having one of the most fun/scary/exciting/exhausting days of riding at a resort. I definitely got it wrong about Deer Valley, they do an incredible job at creating a mountain bike park for everyone, and the $42 ticket goes above and beyond the value you get out of it. Check out their trail map and you will see that you can not physically ride everything in a day.
On the second day I wanted to see what Park City Resort had to offer. After a full day of riding at Deer Valley everything felt sore but I still wanted to pedal a little bit seeing as we got fully-lift served. Park City is a different resort, it is what my friend calls lift-assisted. Their lifts do not take you to the top of the resort, but your legs get you there.
Our initial plan was to hit Pinecone starting high on Guardsman’s Pass but someone started a fire in a camp spot. FYI, do not do that.
Parking across the Montage with riding Black Forest as the new goal, we headed up an easy sidewalk trail that switch backed up and around ridges, hitting small downhill sections from time to time. I still wanted to ride something a little tougher but I got a line maybe a little too challenging. PC has many sections of just-wide-enough-for-handle-bars spaced aspens, steep-control-skid your rear tire, puckered-up root drops, and ultra-fast what-was-that(?) type singletrack. Especially on the trail we rode. PC felt similar to Deer Valley, but a little tighter. It was a short day as I had to get back North but for only two and a half hours of riding I was exhausted and satisfied with my trip.
It blows me away of how developed this area is for riding, which now makes sense why I met so many people, when I lived in the Salt Lake valley, who loved to mountain bike. I really screwed up not getting started until now but I am glad I know now, what Park City, Utah has to offer.
(You can see our full day from Park City in the picture below that was tracked by a Suunto watch.)
Here is extra info to make a trip easier/cheaper:
Guardsman’s Pass, free.
I did not need to stay here but was my plan as I have known of people camping up that way and it is right outside of Park City. Also, you can catch the Wasatch Crest Trail right from your camp spot, which is pretty cool.
We got food at El Chubasco this time around but there are so many good options of food in Park City. If you are looking to make your own, there’s a Smith’s (Kroger) in town that can get you some cheap eats.
*I was not given anything, this is an honest review. I just believe in giving credit where credit is due.