5 Epic Shuttle Rides Near Salt Lake City

Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Jason Sumner

Not far from the bustle and smog of downtown Salt Lake City lie endless miles of pristine mountain singletrack.  Riders have their pick of long pedal-y cross-country loops, lift-accessed downhill runs, and purpose-built jump lines at the bike park.  All are fun, but perhaps the quickest way to escape the city and get high above town is via a shuttle.  Next time you are in Salt Lake, skip Temple Square, avoid City Creek, and try one of these five shuttle rides instead.

#1: Wasatch Crest Trail

Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Luke F.

Often hailed as one of the best mountain bike shuttles in America, the Wasatch Crest Trail is one for your bucket list. 20 miles long, the trail follows an alpine ridgeline high above Salt Lake City before riders descend down and out Mill Creek canyon. Riders are treated to expansive views of Park City and Canyons resorts, several mountain lakes, and snowy peaks (even in mid-summer).  The ride is mostly downhill with a couple of tough climbs thrown in for good measure.

Logistics: Most shuttles begin at the park-and-ride on Wasatch Ave and 3900 South before taking riders to the top of Guardsman Pass. Both Big Rack Shuttles and Fox “N’ Rox provide shuttles. The ride in its entirety can only be done on even days, as upper Mill Creek canyon is closed to mountain bikers on odd days. As an alternative, you can ride the Crest down and into the Park City side any day of the week.

#2: WOW Trail

WOW Trail

The WOW Trail is a relative newcomer to the area.  The trail runs downhill from just below Empire Pass to Wasatch Mountain State Park, dropping 2,900 feet over 12 miles. The ride features big bermed turns, aspen groves, and buff singletrack.

Logistics: Fox ‘N” Rox runs this shuttle on occasion. Call for details and schedule. To do it yourself, leave a car at Wasatch Mountain State Park (or just outside to avoid the day use fee). Then drive to the upper parking lot on SR222, just below Empire Pass.

#3: Mid-Mountain Epic

Mid-Mountain Trail

The Mid-Mountain trail is the heart and soul of Park City mountain biking.  Almost all loop rides consist of some section of the trail, but riding longer sections of it as a shuttle ride are a treat.  This shuttle is even free, thanks to the free Park City bus.  While most of the trail follows a contour line, there are a couple big climbs, so be prepared.

Logistics: Leave your car at the Utah Olympic Park or Canyons resort and take the free (and frequent) bus to the Silver Lake Lodge at Deer Valley.  From here, you can ride 20 miles of Mid-Mountain before descending back to town and to your car.  This ride is best done on weekdays, as the number of bikes allowed on the bus is limited.

#4: Mormon Pioneer Trail

Mormon Pioneer Trail

Follow the footsteps of the Mormon pioneers on this route that traverses their final two days of travel into Salt Lake City. Warm up with a few miles of dirt road before arriving at Mormon Flat, a historical campground used by both the Donner and Mormon parties.  This is where you will get on singletrack.  The trail climbs over Big Mountain before descending the other side.  You can cruise all the way to the bottom of MoPi and finish at Little Dell Reservoir. Riders wanting more of a challenge can branch off at Affleck Park to head over to Killyons canyon and then down and out of Emigration Canyon, ending at This Is The Place State Park.

Logistics:  Have a friend/your spouse/your mom drop you off at the cattle guard on Jeremy Road in Jeremy Ranch.  Alternatively, they can drop you off at the top of Big Mountain Pass if you want a downhill-only ride. For the short route, they will pick you up at the trailhead at Little Dell Reservoir.  For the longer ride, you will end up by the zoo/This Is The Place.  Or have them meet you at Ruth’s Diner a couple miles up the canyon for a post-ride beer.

#5: Empire Pass to Park City Mountain Resort

Empire Pass

Start at the top of Empire Pass and use a  Park City trail map to create a choose-your-own-adventure trail ride. Corvair is an awesome trail to start on–you can’t go wrong from there. Expect a little pedaling on any route you pick, but this is a mostly-downhill cruise.

Logistics:  Have your shuttle driver drop you off at the top of Empire Pass. From here, there are a multitude of trails you can choose to make it back to town and the Park City ski resort base.

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