You often hear about trails in certain areas referred to as “must rides” or as a “mountain biking classic”. These are the trails that you always tell anyone from out of town about. The rides that maximize the fun and leave tourists spreading the word of how amazing the trails are. There are many things that could make riders say such things. It could be a lung busting cardio fest, or it could be a trail that has all of the sickest jumps and down hill lines in town. Maybe the trail has some of the best views in town, or a lake along the way for swimming in. Whatever makes these trails great, you want to make sure to share it with every one. One of these rides in Park City, Utah is the Mid-Mountain trail.
|Park City has some of the best trail signage around.|
Just like the name implies, the Mid-Mountain trail cuts across the middle of the mountain range to the west of Park City. Also known as the 8000 foot trail, due to its average 8,000 foot elevation, this trail is primarily a mountain traverse that starts at Deer Valley ski resort and rides flows along the Wasatch back for 25 miles (though you can decide to take the cardio intense route and start on the other end of the trail if you’re feeling gung-ho about it). There are numerous access points and tons of trails that split off from Mid-Mountain allowing you to drop down to one of the three ski resorts in town on a fun fast downhill rip, or these trails can be used to access the trail from downtown Park City. Some of the trails are much more difficult to climb than others. In a strange way mid-mountain is almost just a glorified connecter trail. A very fun, super sweet connector trail.
|Mid Mountain is still not your everyday connector trail. It is a blast to ride even with out the off shoots.|
Something that is very nice about Park City (that really helps with the ease of mountain biking access) is the city bus system. Park City’s riding areas can be relatively spread out and getting from one trail head to another can sometimes be problematic. Especially when you have 20 plus mile long out and back trails, getting back to your car or starting point can be a challenge. The city busses here allow bikes on board and can often serve and an amazing shuttle system to get the most bang for your buck on accessing sweet downhill single track and long flowing mountain traverses. Oh, and the best part is that the busses are free!
|Waiting for the bus to shuttle us up to our trails.|
We started our ride picking up a bus in a residential neighborhood just a bit off of the main drag. We had a nice bit of a shelter that helped us to ward off the morning chills. We headed into downtown Park City and grabbed a quick bite to eat before riding our bikes over to the transit station to grab a bus heading up the mountain. We snagged a bus heading to Silver Lake Lodge up in Deer Valley resort, the beauty of this bus trip was that it saved us over 1,000 vertical feet of climbing and helped us to start our ride with fresh legs. There was still plenty of pedaling and ascending ahead of us after all.
|Old mine shafts can be found up on the hill side. Park City got it’s start as a silver mining town.|
Anyone who lives, or has frequented an alpine environment knows that the weather can be unpredictable. Park City had a bit of a snow storm just two days before our ride in the middle of June. This can sometimes make trail conditions questionable. Fortunately for us we had two very warm days after the snow fall.
|Little snow drifts still litter the shadiest of spots off the trail.|
The snow quickly dried off over the past two days leaving the trails in prime condition. We were left with single track covered in what I like to call hero dirt.
|You can see the tires of riders who got an earlier start than we did. Some may have been out a bit before things were dry enough.|
Starting the ride form Deer Valley resort you have a slight climb across some ski slopes and through some evergreen wooded sections. Getting used to the altitude can be difficult for people from out of town. Even living just down the valley there is almost a 4000 foot elevation difference that can make the air feel rather thin. The climbing combined with the elevation usually makes for a slow start to the day. Fortunately as your body start to warm up the trail just gets better and better.
|Taking a breather after a stint of climbing in the hot sun.|
Heading north along the Wasatch range you encounter several different environments. You can encounter everything from wide open ski slopes scattered with wild flowers, exposed desert esque ridges, and dense aspen groves. The aspens tend to usually be a rider favorite. They provide ample shade and in here the single track tends to get a little more flowy, however, after a summer snow fall the new growth aspens tend to droop over the trail right at eye level, which can create a challenge of its own. The trail becomes littered with rollers and small natural features that allow for little bits of air time over imaginary doubles. It makes you feel like you are a pro railing down Whilster’s infamous A-Line trail. Only your gaps are maybe 3 feet long compared to their 30 feet, my stoke factor is still on the same level though, I promise.
|Hitting the backside on one of the many rollers along the trail.|
Off of Mid-Mountain there are several trails that will take you further up the mountain into the alpine, or will drop you back down into Park City. On a lot of these trails there are some challenging yet very well sculpted switchbacks. As well as some very steep off camber sections that can really test your skills. After our stint on Mid Mountain we descended down a trail known as Spiro. It is a trail comprised of tight switchbacks and blind corners around fast single track.
|Blind corners can hide other riders or trail obstructions, Always ride in control and only try to move bigger debris if you are not riding alone.|
There are also stretches of double track at the start that allow you to descend rapidly. The double track is one of the scariest parts for me as some of the brakes bumps get so vicious they can bottom out the suspension on a 6 inch travel bike with ease.
|Switchback upon switchback all the way back into town.|
Spiro spits us back out in neighborhoods adjacent to Park City Mountain Resort where you can hop back on a bus to take you where ever you need to go. Or you can take the scenic route and pedal your bike around Park City to stretch out those tired legs and see where the rest of your adventures take you.
|View of Park City from Mid Mountain trail.|