Mountain Biking Park City: A 3-Day Guide to Trails and Epic Rides
If you’ve been mountain biking for any length of time, you know Park City has an impressive resumé that boasts 450 miles of trails and was the first to be awarded a Gold-level IMBA Ride Center designation. For many of us, mountain biking the Wasatch Crest has been on our bucket list since we bought our first mountain bike.
Park City has IMBA Epic rides, lift serviced bike parks, flow trails, endless backcountry singletrack, and even plenty of beginner-friendly bike trails.
Where do you even start?
In three days, you can experience some of the best mountain biking Park City has to offer. Building off of the the collective knowledge of our Singletracks staff, readers, and local experts, we’ve taken some of the guesswork out of where you should ride, stay, eat (and drink!) on your next weekend getaway to Park City.
When to go
Resort chair lifts start spinning in June, and most summer activities get their start around the same time. But if you’ve got your heart set on riding the Wasatch Crest trail, your window is more like mid-July to early September to avoid any snow at higher elevations. Summer temps in Park City average in the 80s (Fahrenheit) during the day and at 40s-50s at night, so a windshell or light rain jacket may come in handy for strolling along Main Street in the evenings.
Day 1 – bike park day
Get your lift laps in at Deer Valley Resort. Deer Valley has 67 miles of trails — a mix of 4.2 miles of beginner-friendly trails, 45.3 miles of intermediate trails, and 17.5 miles of advanced trails — all serviced by three chairlifts.
Deer Valley has made some investments in the park the last few years, hiring Whistler-based Gravity Logic to improve and add new flow trails. In 2015, Tidal Wave was added and quickly became popular for its fast flow and tabletop jumps. The following year, Gravity Logic created Holy Roller, a longer flow trail suitable for beginners. And last year Tsunami, an advanced trail, was added. Yet another Gravity Logic trail called Undertow is in the works, an intermediate trail approximately 3 miles long. There’s no confirmed opening date for the new trail yet, but it should be ready soon, according to Abby Railton of Deer Valley Resort.
Beginner trails at Deer Valley
Beginners will love the Holy Roller flow trail, which is a machine cut, mostly wide flow trail. It’s smooth with plenty of rollers totaling 4 miles in length. While Holy Roller is the only easy “green” trail, once comfortable with some basic cornering and braking techniques, beginners can try Nail Driver, a 2 mile intermediate trail with berms, flow, and very little tech. Many of the intermediate or blue trails are steep but not super technical, so beginners can easily progress as the day goes on. Much of the singletrack is beginner-friendly too, like Road to Ruby, Flagstaff Loop, and Corvair.
Intermediate/advanced trails at Deer Valley
Julian achieves lift off.
If you’re coming to Deer Valley in search of the flow and jumps typical of Gravity Logic, look no further than Tidal Wave. With big, bermed corners up top and seemingly infinite table top jumps, you’ll be grinning the whole 2 miles down. Singletracks Pro member, Jim Cummings, calls Tidal Wave “THE BEST INTERMEDIATE TABLE-TOP JUMP TRAIL ON THE PLANET!!!” No further emphasis needed.
Gravity Logic ups the ante with bigger berms and steeper jumps on the newer Tsunami trail. “Twist and Shout, Aspen Slalom, Free Style, Fire Swamp, and Thieves Forest are all steep, twisty, narrow, handmade, expert or extreme trails featuring drops, ruts, roots, rocks and the usual intensely technical downhill features,” according to Jim’s review.
If you don’t regularly ride park-style flow trails, your legs may feel fresh on the first day of riding when you’re feeling super pumped about the days ahead, but riding downhill still takes a lot of effort. Just like during ski season, on new terrain it’s best to start off cautiously. As the mantra goes, “Pre-ride, Re-Ride, then Free-ride.”
Take your first lap slow and scope out jumps and landings. Then re-ride focusing on using good technique — how/when to use your dropper, cornering correctly, get a feel for the jumps. The third time’s a charm; now you’re familiar with the trail so free-ride within your capabilities and have some fun with it.
Deer Valley has a couple of good eateries at the resort. Have lunch mid-mountain at Royal Street Cafe, which is located beside the Sterling Express lift so you can get right back to where you started. Lifts run until 5pm so you’ll have plenty of time for progression.
Day 2 – Epic Ride
Shuttle the Wasatch Crest Trail
Views from Wasatch Crest trail, photo: Jim Cummings
This is the big day. Time to ride Wasatch Crest trail, descending 4,000 feet while taking in some of the most beautiful scenes of nearby Wasatch range.
Most people opt to shuttle this ride, so reserve a shuttle in town or have a non-riding friend drop you off at Guardsman Pass. You’ll be starting around 9,700 feet and while you’re descending overall, the route still climbs 1,600 feet and even short climbs can be challenging at this high altitude. There are a few options for getting back to civilization at the end of the route. Take the trail through Canyons resort to get back to Park City for a roughly 13.5 mile one-way trip.
Park City IMBA Epic
Park City IMBA Epic, photo: Jim Cummings
More advanced riders or those that just want to get more singletrack miles in can skip the shuttle and ride the 26-mile round trip Park City IMBA Epic route. Starting at Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR), begin with a singletrack climb up Armstrong and Pinecone Ridge to get to the Wasatch Crest Trail then past Desolation Lake and use the Connector Trail to get on Mid Mountain. Where the connector joins Mid Mountain, if your legs are done, enjoy some of the singletrack at Canyons Village and then ride on the road back to where you started.
Otherwise, the Mid Mountain trail stretches about 12 miles from Snow Park Lodge at Deer Valley on the east to Canyons Village to the west, but multiple exit points can drop you back into PCMR or some of the old-school singletrack in the Prospector Area near Old Town. Either way, you’ll have definitely earned yourself a giant burger at the No Name Saloon after this epic ride.
Day 3 – classic Utah singletrack
WOW Trail. Photo: Eric Schramm, courtesy of Jans.
One of the newer trails in Park City is the Wasatch Over Wasatch Trail (WOW Trail). The trail is 12 miles long and descends about 2,500 feet according to Scott House, of Jans/White Pine Touring in Park City. The machine-cut singletrack has “lots of flow with just the right amount of tech and challenge to keep it fun for most abilities.”
Shadow Lake Trail, Park City Mountain Resort
Park City Mountain Resort is accessible from town and has an estimated 60 miles of two-way XC-style singletrack to explore. About 95% of the trails are marked blue or intermediate and require a bit of pedaling, so don’t expect the usual bike park or downhill runs. The base of mountain is where all the Adventure Park activities are happening and weekends are crowded with families, so you might consider purchasing a lift ticket in advance.
Or pedal up Jeni’s or Armstrong trail to access some well-known rides like Mid Mountain, Spiro and Keystone. Keystone is a fast and fun trail, offering some glimpses of historic, old silver mines, ending at the picturesque Shadow Lake. Turn back at the lake and descend to town hitting up more advanced and technical singletrack like Speedbag and Sweeney’s Switchbacks.
There’s still so much more to be ridden, so for your last ride of the day here are two options that involve a short drive out of the city.
Glenwild mountain bike trails
Glenwild MTB Trails, photo: Julie Hughey
Julie Hughey spent some time in the Glenwild area, northeast of town near Kimball Junction. In her trip report, she describes Glenwild Loop as an 8-mile loop with “great switchbacks to climb or descend, and long sections of sweet downhill singletrack.” She also mentions Bob’s Basin downhill trails, if you like wooden ramps, jumps, berms and rollers. Another popular trail in Glenwild is the Flying Dog trail. After Jeff Barber’s visit, he says Flying Dog is an “Excellent descent (and the climb isn’t too bad either). Transitions from scrub oak to Aspen glades and back again. Trail is named “Flying Dog” because a GPS trace of the trail looks like a jumping dogs with its ears being blown by the wind.”
High Star Ranch mountain bike trails
Eric Porter leads our crew up one of many switchbacks at High Star Ranch trails. photo: Leah Barber.
High Star Ranch is about a 20-30 minute drive east of Park City toward the Uinta Mountains. The trail network offers about 10 miles of singletrack with long but gradual switchback climbs and fun, fast descents. Follow the signage as most of the trails are one-way. The trail is mostly exposed, offering great views of Kamas below or the Wasatch Mountains, but the exposure also means it can be brutally hot on summer days.
Other summer activities in Park City
Nicolas catches a big one his first time fly-fishing. photo: Leah Barber
Legs tired? Riding for three days in Park City can have that effect. There are plenty of outdoor activities to do here when you need a break from pedaling. Slow down the pace with fly-fishing. A guided service can take you to the best spots, provide equipment, show you the tricks of the trade, and 20 minutes later, boom! Your first catch!
Yours truly with my first catch of the day.
Jordanelle Reservoir from Mid-Mountain trail.
Cool off in the Jordanelle Reservoir at Jordanelle State Park. Go for a post-ride swim or rent a boat, jet ski, or stand up paddle board.
Crowds cheer on Main Street for the Tour of Utah, or maybe they’re just excited to see the long-overdue rain.
Park City is a favorite stop during the Tour of Utah, held in early August each year. Grab your road bike and enter the challenging Gran Fondo riding the same 98-mile, 10,000 feet climbing stage that the pros ride. Or attend a finish in Park City and join the excitement among thousands of cycling fans.
City Park Skate Park
Work on your heelflip at the skate park at City Park, or pick up some pointers from the local boarders who hang out here.
Deer Valley puts on an amazing outdoor concert series in the summer with headliners like The Decemberists and Phillip Phillips. Bring a picnic dinner (or pre-order a gourmet picnic) and a blanket and watch the sunset to some great music.
And shopping! Everyone secretly loves an outlet mall. There’s a Vans Outlet, and Main Street in Park City is chock-full of boutiques, art galleries, and specialty outdoor stores.
Cool(?) stuff window shopping on Main Street.
Park City mountain bike rentals
You can certainly travel with your own bike, but if you’re coming from the east coast or overseas where the terrain is different (ie not as dry, dusty or somewhat rocky as Park City) you might enjoy a more enduro-ish bike for some of the local rides. Reserve a bike online at White Pine Touring or Jans and choose from Specialized, Santa Cruz, and Juliana bikes.
Even though you’ve just looked over a thorough itinerary of mountain biking Park City, if you want some less-travelled backcountry trails or want to avoid feeling tied to a map, consider hiring a guide from White Pine Touring. After a brief interview to determine your style of riding and fitness level, they’ll ride with you, make sure you don’t get lost, and most importantly, ensure you’re having fun! It’s money well spent, because locals know just about every corner and every pitch of mountain bike trails in Park City, plus they’re pretty good company.
Fun day riding exploring singletrack with Scott and Stu, our excellent guides from White Pine Touring.
Beyond rental bikes and guide services at White Pine Touring, this shop also has an expansive selection of soft goods, plus all types of tuning services. If you’re able to stay beyond the weekend, there are a couple friendly group rides that start at the shop some weekdays during the summer. Be sure to call ahead and ask if the Tuesday Ladies Ride or TNR, Thursday Night Ride, is on. Jans also has a big selection of mountain bike products, as well as everything you need for outdoor adventures.
Park City breweries & eateries
Here is a short list of mountain bikers’ favorite Park City restaurants and drinking options.
Wasatch Brewing Company: The first brewpub on historic Main Street with outspoken beers such as the Polygamy Porter.
Squatters: Local brewpub on Park Ave with about a dozen award-winning craft beers like the Full Suspension Pale Ale.
Park City Brewery: Visit the Tap Room in Kimball Junction for specials on their American-style beers.
No Name Saloon: Hoppin’ bar on Main Street, serves typical pub fare and large beer selection.
High West Restaurant & Saloon: A historic livery stable and garage from the Old West transformed into a unique whiskey distillery.
There are definitely a lot of pricey dining options in Park City, and while white tablecloths may not be your normal style of dining, spending your money at these local businesses strengthens the local economy and community that builds and takes care of the 450 miles of mountain bike trails visitors travel from around the world to experience.
Park City Lodging
Lift Lodge condos on Main Street, photo: Park City Lodging
Finally, you’ll need a comfy place to rest your head (and tired body) at night. With so much riding accessible from town, I recommend staying as close to the city center as possible. The summer pricing is a lot more reasonable than you’d think for such a hot tourist destination. A 2-bedroom condo that comfortably sleeps 6 at the Lift Lodge on Main Street starts at just $150 per night. Plus, they offer a military discount and this current offer for 20% off lodging and mountain bike tours with Jans.
More Park City recommendations
Many of us on the Singletracks team has spent time in Park City, and our readers have been reviewing trails there since 2006! Read more to keep your stoke level high until your trip to Park City!
A special thanks to Park City Lodging Association for accommodating Singletracks at a recent media trip.