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wasatch

Last year we spent a week biking in Park City, UT, and loved every minute of it. This year we planned a mixed trip, with half of our time spent in Southwest UT and half spent in Park City.  We wanted more Park City biking!  We knew on our last day we wanted to spend some time at the Bob’s Basin downhill trails at Glenwild.  For the first two days we opted to start our rides much higher: at Guardsman Pass.

 

Day one: Mill-D North Fork

Having ridden the entire Wasatch Crest trail multiple times, we opted for a shorter option: Mill-D. The other reason for doing this was because it was an odd-numbered day, and the Mill Creek canyon trails that you need to ride the Wasatch Crest ride can only be accessed by bikers on even-numbered days. Mill-D is the oft-used option for odd-numbered days.

The best options for parking for this ride are to either run a shuttle where you park one car at the Mill-D trailhead in Big Cottonwood Canyon and one car at the start of the ride at Guardsman Pass, or to do what we did and park in between.

I dropped the BF off at Guardsman Pass.  From here, he rode the Scott’s Bypass trail to the foot of Puke Hill and waited for me.  In the meantime, I drove the car 2.5-3 miles down Guardsman Pass and Big Cottonwood Canyon to a large dirt parking area just above Solitude Ski Resort.  It’s a pretty obvious area on the left-hand side of the road.  If you get to Solitude, just turn around and as soon as you head back up the road, you’ll see it on the right by a gravel road leading to a campground.

From here I rode back up to a connector trail located on Guardsman Pass road right at a 90-degree curve.  There’s a road sign for the curve, and there will be cars parked by this dirt road on your left.  You will have passed it on the way down.  Climb the dirt road (go around the fence) and you’ll reach the intersection where Scott’s Bypass runs into Puke Hill.

We started the real riding with the horrendous climb up Puke Hill.  After that, the riding got easier as we headed down the Wasatch Crest trail.  The views of Big Cottonwood Canyon’s resorts were beautiful. The leaves were turning–it was pretty much a perfect day. After one more climb we got to the “spine,” a technical section just above Desolation Lake, and reached our turn off:

Riders heading for the entire Wasatch Crest trail will go right here; the Mill-D trail is to the left.

Riders heading for the entire Wasatch Crest trail will go right here; the Mill-D trail is to the left.

Mill-D is a super fun downhill trail.  Most of it is rideable by strong intermediates.  There are some tight switchbacks and a few more technical sections, but most of it is just fun downhill riding through aspens.  A section of waterbars makes for an especially fun set of drops, spaced just far enough apart! At the end you’ll cruise down a steeper section of waterbars and into the parking lot.  It’s a blast!  Watch out for hikers, though, and make sure to yield when needed.

A rock garden on Mill-D

A rock garden on Mill-D

Once our ride was over the BF biked back up Big Cottonwood Canyon to get the car. His portion of the shuttle ride was longer than mine: about 4 miles.  After he made it back to pick me up, we stopped for lunch at the Silver Lake Lodge.  This is a beautiful, rustic mountain lodgeL perfect for an apres bike lunch!

Pinecone Ridge, Mid-Mountain and Spiro

On Saturday we paid Dennis, the shuttle driver of Double D’s Taxi service, to haul us up to the top of Guardsman Pass again.  We were planning an almost all-downhill ride, and so left our own car at Park City resort. He charges by the van load so if you have 6 people then the $35 fee doesn’t seem bad at all!

It was a busy, busy Saturday at Guardsman, but once we got on the trail we didn’t see many people at all on our way up to the ridge top. We cruised down Scott’s Bypass and steeled ourselves for one more climb up Puke Hill. With a few riders walking past me and my lungs attempting to jump out of my throat, I kept pedaling.  I knew where all four flat spots were and I’d just pedal from flat spot to flat spot.  Stop.  Breathe. Breathe. Pedal. Finally, finally, after four times of being on this blasted hill over the years, I pedaled my way up the entire thing! After that, there was no more uphill on this entire ride.

A rider climbs up Pinecone Ridge

A rider climbs up Pinecone Ridge

We celebrated our summit and then hopped on our bikes to check out Pinecone Ridge.  Built just a few years ago Pinecone is a multi-directional trail connecting the Park City resort trails to the ridge top. Consequently, it’s important not to just let it rip on the way down; there will be people climbing up and yes, there are signs asking that you yield to uphill riders.  If it hadn’t been for one group of tourists totaling about 30 riders, we’d have had to to stop for maybe 6 or 7 people in 4 miles. Either way, we had a great time cruising down Pinecone. It’s a blast! Just fun, swooping downhill; it’s not technical, and the trail is wider than some–there’s no fear of hitting a tree trunk with your handlebar.

At the junction with the Mid-Mountain trail we made a hard right and kept right on cruising. After 1.5 miles we met up with the Spiro trail.  Although Spiro has signs about yielding to uphill riders, most of those are now on Armstrong, an uphill only trail that runs near Spiro.  Still, be aware because you might run into the occasional biker, hiker, or trail runner.

Riders on a portion of the Spiro Trail

Riders on a portion of the Spiro Trail

Spiro was gorgeous.  First, we biked through what seemed like a tunnel of fall trees, and then we crossed this meadow filled with wildflowers and lots of turning leaves. This trail is between 3 and 4 miles long and is filled with more. awesome. downhill.   So in total, we figure we climbed for about 1/2 mile and all the rest of our ride was downhill!

We made the quick jaunt back to our car and headed right over to the resort base area for lunch at The Country Store.  We decided while eating that this ride was our absolute favorite of the entire trip. Even after a day at Glenwild, that still proved to be true.

One of the best parts of mountain biking, I think, is having the chance to explore trails that are new, or new to you.  If you get the chance, get out and explore some of the many awesome trails Utah has to offer!

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