Ride the Best of the Wasatch on Mid-Mountain Trail

2015_07_midmountain.jpg Seth Sawyers
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Salt Lake City has some great mountain biking, but if you can spare a half or full day, head to Park City and ride a section of the Mid-Mountain Trail. The trail has enough variety to appeal to beginners and crusty singletrack lovers. It’s only a 30- or 40-minute drive from Outdoor Retailer to some of the best mountain biking in the world—Mid-Mountain is the backbone of Park City’s IMBA Gold-Level Ride Center.

The whole trail, starting at Silver Lake Lodge in Deer Valley Resort and going all the way to Pinebrook near Interstate 80, is between 25 and 30 miles. It crosses three different ski resorts and sits mostly above 8,000 feet. Although the trail (headed north) does drop in overall elevation, you still climb over 3,000 vertical feet over the course of the whole trail. If you ride from Deer Valley to Canyons you’ll hit one particularly pukey hill before descending to the free bus at Canyons parking lot.

Mostly smooth, flowy singletrack, there are some rocky sections to shake you up—like the aptly named Iron Mountain area. You’ll hear a lot of locals talk about how easy of a ride it is, but they live and play at 7,000+ feet—make sure you plan accordingly and don’t bite off more than you can chew. For example, the section from Park City Mountain Resort to Canyons is a 13-mile commitment with no descending trails. Bring plenty of water, sunblock, and calories—you’ll need all you can carry for a full ride.

One of the best parts of this trail is that you have so many ways to ride it. A favorite is to climb the well-graded Armstrong and ride the Mid-Mountain out to the Canyons, then ride Highway 224 back into town (or take the free bus with bike racks).

For a shorter loop, park beside the Park City Transit Center near Main Street, take the bus to Silver Lake Lodge, then descend Spiro or Crescent Mine Grade at Park City Mountain Resort. The ride back to your car is a breeze from here.

If you have two cars, set up a shuttle from the Silver Lake Lodge at Deer Valley or from the top of Empire on Guardsman Pass. Riding from the top of Empire is the most fun—the first couple miles are fast, flowy downhill that can’t be accessed from anywhere else.

No matter how you ride it, Mid-Mountain is incredible. It’s flowy and fun, with great downhill sections and long, challenging climbs. The trail winds through evergreens and Aspens, but it also pops out onto ski runs that offer spectacular views of Park City and the valley.

If you’re looking for a longer ride, and one of the best in the Wasatch, connect over to the Crest Trail for a winding adventure and an encounter with the rocky spine (take the easy way around it).

The best places to park for the Mid-Mountain Trail are at the ski resorts—Deer Valley, Park City, and Canyons. Parking there is free and plentiful. Each resort offers it’s own climb up to Mid-Mountain. The trail doesn’t close and night-riding with headlights is a blast.

Recover after your ride at High West Distillery. The whiskey is delicious and their signature burger will give you the energy you need to come back to life.

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