PARK CITY — Choosing what to ride in Park City is like trying to make a choice at the candy store.
You can choose from the town’s original trail system cut into the hillside, the rolling terrain of Round Valley, the lift-accessed gravity park at Canyons and of course the whoop-inducing singletrack that winds through the forest on Park City Resort and Deer Valley. In fact, Park City boasts an extensive network of more than 400 miles of public trails that has earned the area the title of Gold Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) — the first town to ever receive the designation.
“On any given day, I can start a bike ride on a trail I’ve ridden a hundred times, and take another turn off. You never get bored,” said Scott House of White Pine Touring in Park City. “We have 400 miles of singletrack that you can access out the backdoor of your place. There’s no other place where you can have that from one trailhead.”
Steeped in mining history, sporty and boasting all the fine eateries, colorful watering holes and weekend events that a ski resort town should have, Park City offers outdoor adventurers — even those from Colorado — something to talk about.
So, load up your car (it’s a six-and-a-half hour, pleasant drive from Vail), pump up your tires and choose your itinerary. There’s something there for everyone.
Epic rides and big eats
Those seeking an epic ride experience need to look no further. Start your day with a gourmet breakfast from Deer Valley Resort Grocery Cafe, where you can polish off a lox-and-cream cheese bagel or gnosh on a gourmet breakfast sandwich before hopping on your bike.
The beauty of Park City riding is that you can connect a number of trail systems into a big ride. Mountain goats can head right up from the base of Deer Valley, or you can opt to take the lift to the top. Lift access allows riders to cover much more ground and lets various abilities experience the high-alpine forests of the ski resorts. If you’re staying at a Park City Lodging property, then ask about the lift and lodging ticket, which gives you a free lift day pass on any of the three resorts.
But don’t think that lift access means you won’t get any climbing in. From Deer Valley, traverse the mountain to Corvair and enjoy the singletrack bliss that ensues. It twists aggressively, bumps you over roots and sends you shooting around thick trees. You’ll dump out on Mid-Mountain, one of the most widely used trails in the system. It’s popular for good reason — you can traverse for nearly 20 miles on rolling terrain and serves to access a slew of other resort trails. Zip down the roller coaster Spiro trail into Park City Mountain Resort and grab lunch on the patio of the Silver Star Cafe before heading back up the mountain for more riding.
Make sure to hit up some of the town’s old-school trails such as John’s Trail (warning: tight trees and lots of hootin’ and hollerin’ possible!), and experience the new, such as Jenni’s Trail, a satisfying 5-mile dirt carpet.
If you’re really looking to push the limits, then check out the Park City Point 2 Point race, which features 75 miles of the area’s best cross-country singletrack on Saturday. (http://thepcpp.com/)
End the day with a beer at Squatters Pub, and re-fuel with a delicious tower of Southwestern-style braised lamb or coconut-encrusted halibut at Chamayo on Main Street — you’ve earned it.
If you’re less about the pedaling and more about the air time, then get your body armor on and head to Canyons Bike Park. The gravity park is a relatively new addition to Park City’s ride scene, and has been adding trails every season. Cruise down perfectly built berms, play on the plank features and fly over manicured tabletops. There are trails for all levels here, not just daredevils. Warm up on the mellow Flying Salmon before graduating to the intermediate features of Wild Mouse. If you’re feeling brave (or have more than six-inches of suspension), then catch some mandatory air on Rally Cat.
Ricochet offers a more old-school style of downhilling, taking riders all the way down the mountain, complete with twisting roots and heart-pumping steep pitches. If you don’t have a day to commit to Canyons, then roll over to Park City’s newest gravity ride area, the Trailside Bike Park. The park was just completed this year and offers everything from a kids pump track to intermediate flow trails to six-foot drops and mandatory gaps. One of the best parts? It’s free.
Finish off the day by packing a picnic and catching one of Park City’s many summer concerts. In the heat of summer, you can catch free live music most nights of the week. The Slide Brothers play at the base of Canyons on Saturday, beginning at 6 p.m. Hear another sibling-themed act, the Shook Twins at the Newpark Town Center on Thursday. All concerts are free. See www.mountaintownmusic.org for a full listing of free community concerts.
Bike cruise and art tour
If you don’t want to spend the entire day on the bike, then Round Valley is a fun way to split up the day around town and on the trail.
Just minutes from the ski resorts, Round Valley offers fun, flowing singletrack on rolling hills in a high desert environment. Check out Rambler for a good overview of the trail system, replete with tight turns, fast straightaways and gradual climbs. These trails are a great option for beginner and an intermediate terrain, yet still offer plenty of fun factor for the whole group.
After your ride, check out Main Street, poke your head into an art gallery, or catch one of the various cultural events that go well into fall. This is, after all, the town that is synonymous with the Sundance Film Festival.
The Park City Film Music Festival, happening now through Saturday, presents a number of indie films, with a showcase and competition for songwriters and composers.
Discover the area’s vibrant art scene by joining the Gallery Stroll on the last Friday of each month. The event from 6-9 p.m. is a chance to enjoy some refreshments while highlighting special exhibits and local artists.
Also, don’t miss the Autumn Aloft Hot Air Balloon Festival, when local balloonists will put on a colorful display at public launch on Sept. 20-21.
However, we suspect you might be a little too busy to tear yourself away from the trails. Despite the recognition, Park City’s trails still remain a relative secret, so get there while it’s still a hidden gem.
“I think a lot of people are astounded with the quality of trail and how much there is,” House said. “They’re like, ‘All this is accessible for free? And it’s that good?’ Yes. It is.”