cycling utah July 1999


Sundance lifts riders

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

In 1969, Robert Redford envisioned a year-round mountain community that would foster the alliance of arts and recreation while preserving the integrity of the land. Out of the old Timphaven ski resort on the North Fork of the Provo River emerged Sundance.

At the heart of Sundance is Sundance Village where cottage rooms, picturesque mountain homes, award-winning restaurants, an artisan center and spacious conference facilities are all tucked amidst pristine forests nestled at the base of 12,000-foot Mount Timpanogos. The unmatched natural scenery and countless activities in every season lend Sundance a truly unique atmosphere.

The same terrain that makes skiing and snowboarding at Sundance so incredible during the winter also makes for truly outstanding mountain biking during the summer. Sundance boasts over 20 miles of "fluffed and buffed" trails designated for mountain bikes ranging from intermediate to expert, all accessible from Ray's Lift.

Notes on the Trail:

Navigating the trails at Sundance is a matter of knowing where to turn since intersections are numbered but individual sections of trail are typically nameless. Thus you complete a route by connecting the junctions along the way.

Sunnyside Ride (3 miles, easy, level 2): This easy going tour is perfect for newcomers who don't want to fret whether they might "stuff" their front wheel. It follows dirt and gravel doubletracks around wide sweeping turns and across sun-kissed slopes. Take Rays Lift past the summit and down to its very end. Glide down the Sunnyside road (doubletrack) then fork left on the Mandan road. Test your skills on a short section of singletrack; then follow the gravel road under Ray's and across ski runs. The paved maintenance road winds down to the base. Reload and try Ray's Ride for a little more flair.

Ray's Ride (3.5 miles, easy, level 2-3): Goldielocks would like Ray's Ride because it's not too tough, not too easy, but just right. It's the main route from the summit to the base and is full of sweet singletrack. But if you lollygag, keep an eye in the rear view mirror for armor-clad downhillers who would just as soon put a tire track up your back. From the lift's summit, head toward the black snow fence and take the singletrack around the back side of the lift summit to intersections #8 and #11 then cross the Mandan road. Weave through thick stands of aspens mixed with maples that turn to fiery hues in autumn; then put on a good show for spectators riding the lift overhead while banking down the main track to the base.

Ray's with a Twist (3.25 miles, moderate, level 2-5). Up the technical ante on this variation of Ray's Ride with a stretch of level 3-5 singletrack, including the infamous rock drop. Descend as you would for Ray's Ride but fork right after crossing the Mandan road. Dip and dive down tight turns and hang your butt way off the back when you come to the ledge. Shimmy through the dank woods then descend the main singletrack to the base.

Boneyard Loop (4 miles, moderate, level 2-5). Call this ride Ray's with a "double twist." The route combines Ray's Ride up top with Ray's with a Twist in the middle with a new section of trail bending away from the resort. A section through dense conifers preceeds a stunning overlook of North Fork Canyon before you loop back to the base. You'll swear you've ventured miles into the remote backcountry.

Scott's Pond-Flathead Loop (2.2 miles, moderate, level 2-4): Get more bang for your lift-ticket buck on this side trip to Scott's Pond. You'll veer from the main downhill trails by first diving through dense groves of maple and then penetrating towering aspens underlain with ferns that fan your legs as you brush by. You'll perfect your short-radius turning skills while wiggling and giggling on the spaghetti-twisted trail. At Scott Pond, take a snack break or cool off with a midday plunge, provided deer or moose haven't claimed first dibs on the grass- rimmed pool.

Uphill route (3.5 miles, strenuous, level 1-3): "I don't need no stinkin' chairlift," you say? Then pedal Ray's Ride in reverse and uphill. You'll be in granny gear most of the way but that's ok because you'll enjoy the encompassing beauty of Sundance and Mount Timpanogos overhead all the more. And you couldn't ask for a better uphill trail. You'll break a sweat, that's for sure, but the one-laner is a golden thread of dirt. Alternatively, head up Boneyard Loop by first starting out on the paved access road.

Aspiring racers should check out the cross-country citizens series held on Saturdays: July 10, August 8, and September 11 at 9 AM. Entry fee is only $12 for one of the best race courses around.

Just the facts:

Distance: Up to 20 miles with more trails slated in the future.

Tread: Singletracks plus intermittent doubletracks.

Physical Difficulty: Easy to moderate if you let Ray's Lift do all the work.

Technical Difficulty: Level 2-5 depending on the route chosen.

Elevation Change: The base of Ray's Lift is at 6,100 feet. The lift summit is 7,150 feet. Trails are downhill for the most part, but you'll climb a bit on the Scott's Pond-Flathead Loop. If you snub the lift, you'll conquer 1,050 feet of vertical.

Trailhead Access: From I-15, take Exit 275 for 8th North Street (Orem), Sundance, and Provo Canyon Recreation Areas. Travel east on 8th North for 4 miles and follow U.S. 189 up Provo Canyon for 6.8 miles. Turn left on UT 92 for Sundance and drive 2.5 miles farther.

Fees and fine print: Mountain biking at Sundance is available Monday through Saturday and holidays 10:00 AM to 6:30 PM, Sunday 12:00 PM to 6:30 PM. An all-day lift pass is $12.00, half-day is $10.00 (starts at 2:30 PM.), twilight pass is $6 (starts at 4:30 PM). A "trails only" pass is $6.00 and includes one ride on Ray's Lift. There is no "free" riding at Sundance.

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