Vail Daily travel story: Park City offers fun for mountain bikers on and off the trails
PARK CITY, Utah — Over four days, we had ridden 70 miles of singletrack.
The scenery ranged from resort chairlifts to never-ending aspen groves to high desert brush to a mountain pass with wide vistas.
It seemed like we had covered some ground. But we had barely scratched the surface of the 400-plus miles of singletrack in Park City.
For our final ride, we went to an area five minutes from town that we hadn’t visited over four days, a testament to the massive network of trails in this town.
Up Skid Row, to Lost Prospector to Snow Top, climbing 1,000 vertical feet through grass and bushes, aspens and pine. Multiple rocky switchbacks darted in and out of the trees. The trail skirted close to expansive homes — including Mitt Romney’s old place — built upon hillsides.
The descents were fast and fun, the tall grass alongside the trail touching my fingers. Our guide, Scott House from White Pine Touring, took us on a narrow, unmarked technical trail with rocks, roots and tricky turns, and we finished up with a short, super-steep trail that led back to the trailhead.
Another day, another 15 miles of new singletrack, another 1,900 feet in vertical.
We have tons of great trails in our backyard, from Vail to Eagle. Outside our valley, Fruita and Moab are frequent road trips for high country mountain bikers. But add another mandatory stop — Park City.
Park City recently became the world’s first Gold Level Ride Center, a designation handed out by the Boulder-based International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). The community has shown impressive determination and collaboration to work together to plan, fund and build trails that cross from resorts to developments to open space.
We rolled out of Vail at 6 a.m. on a Wednesday, and, after a seven-hour drive, we arrived at Park City.
Looking out of our slopeside hotel room at the Snow Flower condominiums, there was a steady stream of mountain bikers descending off Park City Mountain Resort.
We asked a group of mountain bikers in the parking lot where the best riding was. One of them just pointed up the mountain. You’ll find singletrack, he said.
Which we did, hooking together well-marked trails called Jenni’s with Mid-Mountain with Crescent Mine Grade — 10 miles with 1,400 feet of climbing.
The Snow Flower Condominiums provided comfortable accommodations for the week. Our two-bedroom, two-bath unit had a living room, kitchen and a balcony that faced out to the chairlift. And the pool and hot tub were welcome after a long day on the trail.
Food and fun
The first night we hit the free Community Concert Series on the pristine lawn of Deer Valley Resort, a high-end ski area similar to Beaver Creek. Hundreds of locals showed up to watch a local band called the Sideshow Ramblers. Picnic baskets provided a gamut of tasty treats, ranging from wraps to cheese to cookies.
We stopped at the ultra-posh St. Regis — you access the hotel via a funicular with Italian leather seats — where we received hilarious lessons in how to open a champagne bottle with a sabre.
There was no shortage of dining options in Park City. Riverhorse on Main was exemplary of the fine dining that’s available on historic Main Street. We sat out on the deck, and I enjoyed a perfectly prepared rack of lamb with truffled macaroni and cheese, roasted cauliflower and carrot creme as the sun set over Main Street.
The next night we started the evening at High West Distillery, tasting the whiskeys that are distilled on site. We even got a tour of the process, including a look at their 250-gallon copper pot still. (Tours are offered at 3 and 4 p.m., seven days a week.)
Vinto is a great inexpensive dinner option, featuring wood-fired pizzas and awesome homemade gelato. The pizzas range from $10 to $12.
The Silver Star Cafe was another culinary stand-out. We sat at their table for Savor the Summit, a huge community event that puts tables up and down Main Street, with many restaurants in town participating. The menu included pan-seared Alaskan halibut, grilled lamb “lollipops” and sea scallop crudo.
On the town
And, yes, there is drinking in Utah. Alcohol isn’t banned, it’s not all 3.2 percent and you don’t have to buy a membership card to get into a bar. The nightlife on Main Street didn’t feel too much different from Bridge Street.
Draft beer is 3.2 percent, but beer in bottles is full strength. The bartender measures shots with a contraption that ensures a unified pour, but it’s a regular shot portion.
Our first night, we bellied up to the bar at the No Name Saloon on Main Street, with its ample beer selection, funky furnishings and lively crowd watching the Stanley Cup finals on multiple TVs.
The next night we checked out Linzee O’Michaels, a dive bar that offered tons of games including ping pong, beer pong and a game that involved swinging a ring onto a hook from 10 feet away.
Main Street’s upstairs Bistro Bar was rocking on a Saturday night, and the downstairs at Flanagan’s had a classic ski-town-bar vibe with a full dance floor after midnight.
Flying Dog loop is a fun, 16-mile trail that ascends up through oakbrush and then aspen forests. The sign at the top warns, “Yo dude! Slow down,” because the descent is a fast and twisty trail through forest. Intermediate to advanced riders will love this trail.
The next day, the Mid-Mountain Trail took us from the top of the lift at posh Deer Valley to Park City Mountain Resort to Canyons, a 27-mile epic ride.
Guardsman Pass, high up a dirt road on the back side of Park City Mountain Resort, is a popular starting point for mountain bikers. After we were dropped at the top of the pass, our guide, Scott House of White Pine Touring, took us down some fun, old-school, hand-built singletrack high above the resort that fed into the trail system under the lifts.
After a fortifying lunch at Robert Redford’s restaurant, Zoom, we headed up the Town Lift for more singletrack descent. A moose encounter slowed us down slightly, but the descents were fun and fast, winding around old mining outposts sprinkled across the resort.
After five days of great singletrack, excellent food and fun times, we rolled out of Park City exhausted and exhilarated. We were already planning our next trip back.
Managing Editor Edward Stoner can be reached at email@example.com or 970-949-0555.