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Park City is already on every mountain biker’s wishlist as a top destination thanks to hundreds of miles of trails, excellent scenery, and plenty of in-town amenities for riders and families alike. So, since you’re going to Park City–here are the five things you have to do while you’re in town!

1. Get some gravity assistance.

This one is automatic for a lot of riders, but there are still some of us XC-types that feel a twinge of guilt every time we think of catching a ride to the top of the hill. But here’s the thing: there are so many trails in the Park City area that exploring them by pedal power alone severely limits the number of trails you’re able to experience.

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There are several options for getting up the hill in Park City, and each has its own pros and cons including speed, price, and accessibility. Choose the one that’s right for you.

  • If you’re traveling with a friend in a second vehicle, shuttle yourselves the old school way and leave one car at the bottom of the hill. Up top, park at Guardsman Pass and take your pick among the singletrack routes to the bottom.
  • Spring for a lift ticket. In town, choose from Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR), or The Canyons. Many lodging packages include a lift ticket voucher, which is good at any one of these resorts (though the lift ticket you receive will only allow you to ride the lifts at that particular resort on that day). Freeriders will enjoy The Canyons, while those looking for narrower, old school DH trails will prefer Deer Valley.
  • Hook up with a shuttle service. There are several outfits in town that can shuttle you, including White Pine Touring and Double D’s.
  • Take the (free) Park City Transit #9 bus to Empire Lodge. Locals use this bus route to catch an uplift from town to the Empire Lodge at Deer Valley Resort. From Empire Lodge, ride (almost entirely downhill) the Mid Mountain trail to Empire Link and Root Cellar, Trapper’s Gate, and finally, the Daily Road into town.  Do it again and switch up the trails you descend!

I suggest setting aside at least one day of your trip for a little “climbing EPO” to enjoy guilt-free. Who knows–you might decide to make everyday a lift day in Park City.

2. Explore a trail less traveled.

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The Wasatch Crest and Mid Mountain trails are to Park City what Porcupine Rim and Slickrock are to Moab. Yes, you really need to ride a least part of both trails but the fact is they can get crowded, especially on weekends. Fortunately, Park City has 400 miles of additional singletrack for you to sample.

Within the resort areas, consider checking out trails like Moosehouse and “old” Keystone, where the undergrowth laps the trail in summer months thanks to a dearth of riders. Over on the Deer Valley side, thread TG’s for a black diamond-level descent through trees and tight turns.

Outside the resort areas, Round Valley offers beginner-friendly trails and a chance to roll tires with the locals. Glenwild is another massive system just on the other side of I-80 from town and on weekdays, you’ll pretty much have the excellent Flying Dog trail to yourself.

3. Enjoy the local food and brew.

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Now this is the reason I mountain bike. Park City is notable in that there are no big chain restaurants (unless you count the Burger King which was grandfathered in many years ago), which means there are countless options for dining local. Some places, like Robert Redford’s Zoom can be pricey, but don’t pack your brown bag with PB&J just yet. Many excellent local restaurants offer 2-for-1 coupons in the summer, which you can find in the local paper.

For local brews, head to Squatter’s (which also happens to be a killer breakfast spot) or Wasatch Brewery at the top of Main Street. There’s even a local whiskey joint called High West which features a distillery, bar, and restaurant.

As a general travel tip, I say look for a restaurant with a crowd–or ask the locals where they eat–and you won’t be disappointed. My airport shuttle driver recommends Park City Pizza & Noodle, and I can vouch for Sammy’s Bistro and Bandit’s Grill and Bar (though admittedly the BBQ at Bandits isn’t quite up to my sky-high southern standards–but it’s passable).

4. Connect with a local guide or instructor.

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Park City is home to some of the most talented and fit mountain bikers on the planet (including pro Eric Porter) and as such, there are plenty of riders to learn from in town. Mountain biking is all about progression, and for those who are constantly looking to improve, I highly recommend hiring a guide or instructor while in Park City–even if it’s just for half a day.

White Pine touring offers guided tours to fit your riding abilities and interests, and while guides aren’t the same as instructors, chances are you can pick these guys’ and girls’ brains for pro tips on your ride. On our ride at Glenwild, guide Weston gave me some great tips for descending (like avoiding clenching the top tube with my legs) which I was able to apply to the rest of my rides in Park City.

You’ll find qualified instructors at Park City resorts like The Canyons and Deer Valley where instructor time can often be booked as a package with a rental bike and lift pass. At Canyons I got a chance to ride with Sam Barco, who was an excellent instructor AND a kickass DH rider. Just riding the lifts with guys like this makes you smarter on the bike.

Deciding which trails to ride in Park City is like trying to unravel a spider web.

Deciding which trails to ride in Park City can be like trying to unravel a spider web. Map: mountaintrails.org.

Also keep in mind, the number of interconnecting trails in Park City can make looking at a trail map headache-inducing, so hiring a guide ensures that you’ll hit the best stuff without wasting your time.

5. Thank someone for making mountain biking in Park City possible.

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Unlike many MTB destinations such as Moab and Pisgah, most of the mountain bike trails in Park City are located on private land.  Creating a great network of trails requires agreements with property owners both big and small, and the Mountain Trails Foundation has been working with landowners for years to make this happen. It takes a ton of work to build and maintain all this singletrack, so pick up an area trail map in town for a suggested $5 donation to Mountain Trails.

Of course, patronizing the resorts, local restaurants, and contributing to the local economy is another way to say thanks to the locals who have worked hard to build Park City into a world class mountain bike destination. Without tourism dollars, places like Park City just don’t exist.

As you plan your bucket-list trip to Park City, make sure you hit all five items on this list to get the most out of your visit. Coming soon: travel recommendations for budget, standard, and luxe MTB trips to Park City.

Thanks to the Park City Area Lodging Association for making this trip possible.

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# Comments

  • John Fisch

    Very timely article as I’m headed to Park City this month!
    I’ll only have two full days in town with other requirements on my plate, so I’m not sure I can knock off all five, but this is a great starting point for me to plan my visit.
    Thanks for the clue in–as you noted, Park City can be a bit unwieldy for the uninitiated newcomer.

  • Greg Heil

    Great article! This is a great summation of the core of the Park City mountain bike experience. +1 for a local guide and a shout out to Scott House and White Pine Touring… I can only imagine what exploring that place without one would be like!

  • Bubblehead10MM

    Hmmmm! Things to do b4 I’m 50, who’s with me. In my case I’d best get on top of that. 😉

  • tholyoak

    Sorry to spoil your image of Park City, but there’s actually a McDonald’s there – right next to a Walmart.

    • Peter Kemp

      That is not in Park City, that’s out in Kimball Junction. While the area is commonly referred to as “Park City,” the writer is technically correct, BK is the only chain restaurant within the city proper. Kimball Junction has not only McD’s but Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Five Guys, and several other chain joints.

      Loved your “sorry to spoil your image” comment…like a McD’s out at the junction next to I-80 somehow spoils what Park City is? Laughable, the junction is a sprawl but get past that and it’s a whole different ball game, and a terrific, character-filled mountain town.

  • cools98

    Planning on heading there this summer, but with my Yeti SB5c. As I look at the information for the bike park, it says all of the fun trails are “downhill bike only”. Do I really have to rent a DH bike, or will my trail bike be sufficient? I’ve never done the gravity thing, so I will be sticking to the easier trails for novice riders. I’ll probably start with trails like White Rabbit and Flying Salmon, and progress to the Dropkick, Wild Moose, etc.

    I’d appreciate any input anyone has. Thanks.

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