An Inside Look at the Park City Cycling Loops

Heading up HWY 224 with Deer Valley in the background.
Heading up HWY 224 with Deer Valley in the background. T Bracken
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Park City is famous for many things. Since 1963, this small town has been home to first one, then three world-class ski resorts. The Sundance Film Festival moved to Park City in 1981. More recently, the area has enjoyed quite a bit of attention from the mountain bike community for both the quantity and quality of its singletrack.

Now Park City can proudly add road biking as yet another claim to fame. For the 5th year in a row, the final stage of the Tour of Utah begins and ends in Park City.

The news that Park City is a great area for road biking is no surprise to locals, however. Beautiful scenery, lung-busting terrain, and an elevation of roughly 7,000 feet combine to make Park City a rewarding and incredibly challenging place to test your limits on a bike.

Of course, not all Park City rides will try to kill you. The Park City Loops—one 15.5 miles and one just 8—give you a taste of the thrill of riding in Park City without the agony. Throw in the gorgeous scenery and you just might want to take a second lap—or a third.

The Short Loop

Cyclists climb one of the many rolling hills outside of Park City.
Cyclists climb one of the many rolling hills outside of Park City. Philms

Both loops begin at Kimball Junction, which is where Highway 224 meets Interstate 80. You’ll start heading east on Ute Blvd. After .2 miles, take a left on Highland Drive. You’ll cross a narrow bridge.

On your right, you’ll see the Swaner Nature Preserve—a huge undeveloped area that’s home to mule deer, ermine, longtail weasels, sandhill cranes, American goldfinch, coyotes, and even wolves. At 1.5 miles, you’ll take a right onto Old Ranch Road.

As you ride away from the highway, the scenery becomes beautiful. You’ll ride through an area of horse ranches with the stunning Wasatch Mountains as the backdrop. The road is pretty narrow, but the speed limit is 25 and there’s a bike lane, so cars won’t bother you much.

At the 3-mile mark, you’ll pass the Old Ranch Road Trailhead for the Round Valley trail system. The road takes a sharp right at the 3.4-mile mark. Here, the speed limit increases to 35 mph, but this is a long, straight stretch with excellent visibility. You’ll come to a stoplight at 5.7 miles. This is 224—take a right. The speed limit here is 55, but you have a wide shoulder, so cars are a full lane’s-width away from you. From here it’s just 2.3 miles back to Kimball Junction.

After your ride, stop at Maxwell’s and grab a beer—you'll deserve it.

The Long Loop

Cyclists ride through the early morning light during the Tour de Park City
Cyclists ride through the early morning light during the Tour de Park City Philms

The first stretch of the long loop is the same as the short loop. At 1.5 miles, however, you’ll stay on Highland instead of turning right onto Old Ranch Road. You’ll continue through a neighborhood until you reach a stop sign at 3.5 miles. From here, you’ll turn left and cross Highway 40 on an overpass. Once over the highway, you’ll take a right on Old Highway 40—now just a little-used frontage road.

Old Highway 40 has a few lazy rolling hills, nothing to worry about. You’ll slowly, steadily climb for about the next 7 miles, though, so it’s a good idea to pace accordingly. At mile 6.7, you’ll turn right onto Kearns Blvd. You’ll pass the hospital, the National Ability Center, the Park City Ice Rink, and the Round Valley Recreation Area on your right. On your left, you’ll see the new film studio—still under construction.

There’s a nice, wide bike lane all the way up Kearns Blvd, and folks are pretty used to seeing cyclists, so it’s safe. At 10.8 miles, you’ll come to Highway 224. After about half a mile you’ll enjoy a nice, long downhill followed by a short climb. Canyons Mountain Resort will be on your left.

From here, the road follows a relatively steady downhill all the way back to Kimball Junction at mile 15.5. Nice job—now it’s time to replace those calories! Head to the Loco Lizard for a delicious Mexican dinner and a well-deserved cerveza.

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