cycling utah August 1999


Click here for a Topo Map of this, and past trails of the month

Excerpted from Mountain Biking Utah revised 2nd edition

By Gregg Bromka

Deer Valley has long been recognized as one of the nation’s most sophisticated ski areas. Set in an atmosphere of rustic mountain elegance, the resort is renowned for its manicured ski runs, uncompromised hospitality, and gourmet slope-side dining.

Deer Valley has emerged as an acclaimed mountain bike destination, also, blending a network of trails into its refined alpine surroundings. The resort’s singletracks are beyond compare, just like its ski runs, and you can access the system by catching the Sterling Lift to the top of Bald Mountain.

Answering the plead for more public access to private lands surrounding town, Park City Mountain Resort has graciously opened its doors, rather its mountain, to the community of non-motorized recreationists. Mountain bikers will relish the expanding network of doubletracks and newly constructed singletracks. And you can "get a lift," too, at Park City Mountain Resort on its Payday chair.

Although chairlift access allows you to nary break a sweat by cruising downhill all day long, each resort recaptures the original precept of cross-country mountain biking with links to each other’s trail system and to additional routes throughout the Park City area.

Notes on the trail:

Deer Valley Resort

Here’s a quick sampler of Deer Valley's 45 miles of meandering trails and exacting descents that cater to novice through expert mountain bikers:

Naildriver Downhill No. 1 (2.9 miles, novice-intermediate): This is Deer Valley’s least difficult, most direct downhill route. At the top you’ll enjoy a grand vista of the Wasatch Range to the west, of the Uinta Mountains to the east, and of Jordanelle Reservoir in the valley below. The wide path takes you downhill through aspen groves and across ski runs to the base of Sterling Lift where you can reload and explore other routes.

Super G Trees No. 3 and G.S. Trees No. 4 (1.3 miles combined, intermediate-advanced): These trails are the fat-tire equivalent to ski racing, only the gates are densely packed, unyielding aspen trees. The turns just keep on coming which means you must shift quickly and finesse your brakes. You’re riding skills will improve tenfold after just one run.

Aspen Slalom No. 5 and Freestyle No. 17 (2 miles, intermediate-expert): Like a double shot of espresso, these trails will have you wide-eyed and amp’d. Tight turns through aspens lead to even tighter, steeper turns. Much of the route follows under the Sterling Lift, so you can wow others who are critiquing from above.

Flagstaff Loop No. 8 (4 miles, intermediate): Milk your single-ride lift pass by touring the resortÆs western slopes on a rolling cross-country loop through meadows, aspens, and conifers with a big view of the resort below. You’ll actually give your legs a workout and maybe even break a sweat. Culminate by descending to Sterling Lift.

Twist and Shout No. 6 (.5 mile, advanced-expert): A.k.a "twitch and pitch," this is a quick but thrilling, white-knuckle drop through steep angular turns and past side-swiping trees. Needless to say, the double-black-diamond rating is for fearless types who have perfected short radius turns and "hang-your-butt-off-the-back" descending. Twist and Shout forks right off Naildriver 1.7 miles from the top of Sterling Lift.

Four Point Trail No. 14 (1-2 miles, advanced): This trail connects Silver Lake Village with Snow Park Lodge on the lower mountain and accesses a variety of trails. You’ll leave the lift- served area so be prepared to ride back up on Tour des Homes. Most trails are unsigned, so be willing to accept the consequences of whatever turn you take. All trails have highly technical sections, but Little Stick has a straightaway where you can approach highway speeds.

Tour des Homes (1.5 miles, intermediate): This condo-lined route is the main uphill from Snow Park Lodge to Silver Lake Village and is popular with racers in training. In fact, itÆs the cornerstone of the NORBA National Championship Series race course. The route follows doubletracks and singletracks and gains about 800 feet. Start out on the gravel path on the right side of Clipper Lift.

Park City Mountain Resort

Mountain biking at Park City Mountain Resort is a different story altogether. Sure you can grab Payday Lift, but that only takes you one-third of the way up the mountain. There you can descend JohnÆs Trail and Sweeney Switchbacks; otherwise, there is a huge chunk of hill left to conquer. But that’s the lure of biking at PCMR. Set your sights on Shadow Lake in Jupiter Bowl, or "go big" and head up to the Wasatch Crest Trail at Scott’s Pass.

If you snub the Payday Lift, there are three main routes from the resort’s base that all tie together on Crescent Ridge and link to other trails higher up: King Road, Sweeney Switchbacks, and Spiro Trail.

King Road (3 miles to Crescent Ridge, novice to intermediate): The wide dirt and gravel King Road is the "easiest" way up through PCMR and is ideal for novice riders who have good base fitness. From the resort you must first pedal up Main Street then right on paved King Road; both are good measures of your base fitness. Simply climb the dirt road, passing the haunting remains of the Silver King Mine. Go straight at the maintenance buildings and wind up past ski runs to the multiple doubletrack junction on Crescent Ridge. Choices are 1) continue climbing up to Jupiter Bowl, 2) descend Steps and Sweeney Switchbacks, or 3) descend Thaynes Canyon to Spiro Trail.

Sweeney Switchbacks/Steps Trail (4 miles to Crescent Ridge, advanced): Sweeney’s is an all-time locals’ favorite that features countless hairpin turns (thus the route’s surname) rising up under the Town Lift. You’ll find the trailhead where Empire Avenue and Lowell Avenue join on the U-turn up from the resort’s base. Bag all the switchbacks, pop out on Drift Road, and climb under Payday Lift to the old angle house. There you connect with the steeply rising Steps Trail that rises up to Crescent Ridge. Options are 1) descend King Road, 2) continue ascending to Jupiter Bowl, or 3) descend Thanyes Canyon to Spiro Trail.

Spiro Trail (5.8 miles to Crescent Ridge, intermediate): One of the resort’s newest trails, Spiro is destined to be the hallmark ride at PCMR. The well-crafted trail rises moderately from the resort base through thick aspens and across breezy ski runs to Thaynes Canyon. Continue up Thaynes Canyon on doubletrack to the base of Thaynes Lift. Fork left and continue climbing on doubletrack to reach Crescent Ridge where your choices are three again: 1) climb more up to Jupiter Bowl, 2) descend Steps and Sweeney’s, or 3) descend King Road. The latter strategically deposits you at the Wasatch Brew Pub atop Main Street for apres- ride festivities. Find the entry to Spiro Trail from the resort’s base by first coasting down Empire Ave. Turn left on Silver King then right on Three Kings and skirt the golf course. Turn left on Crescent Road and look for the trailhead off the left-hand curve.

Resort access

Deer Valley Resort: From I-80, take Exit 145 for Park City and travel south on UT 224 (Park Avenue). Turn left on Deer Valley Drive. To access Snow Park Lodge (lower mountain) bear left after 1 mile and continue on Deer Valley Drive South. To access Silver Lake Village (Sterling Lift), bear right on Marsac Avenue and travel up Ontario Canyon on Guardsman Road/UT 224. Where Guards-man Road bends sharply right at the horse stables, turn left on Guardsman Connection Road then right on Royal Street East.

Park City Mountain Resort: From I-80 take Exit 145 and travel south on UT 224 (Park Avenue) to the light at Deer Valley Drive, but turn right on Empire Avenue and take it to the parking lots at the resortÆs base.

Fees and fine print

Park City Mountain Resort:

Payday Lift: $15 all day, $8 single ride.

Mon-Fri: 12 noon-6 P.M.; Sat-Sun: 10 A.M.-6 P.M. through September then

Thurs-Sun until mid October weather permitting. "Free" riding without a lift pass is allowed. No bike rentals at the resort but at nearby bike shops in Park City. (435) 649-8111

Deer Valley Resort:

Sterling Lift: $15 all day, $8 single ride.

Wed-Sun: 10 A.M.-5:30 P.M. through Labor Day. After Labor Day, weeekends only weather permitting. Instructional clinics and tours can be arranged by reservation. "Free" riding without a lift pass is allowed. Bike rentals available at Silver Lake Village. (435) 649-1000

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