Mountain Biking the Wasatch Crest Trail in Park City, UT

My S.O. kept telling me during our entire road trip, “You’re going to love the Wasatch Crest Trail!” He swore it would be the best ride I did on the trip. By the time we reached Salt Lake City on Friday the 7th we’d ridden about 45 miles of trail and slept in both tents and backcountry cabins. I was ready for a shower, a bed, and the Wasatch Crest.

The trail is about 20 miles long and is really a combination of several other trails: Scott’s bypass, the Wasatch Crest, the Great Western trail, Big Water, Millcreek road and Millcreek Pipeline; we exited at Church Fork back onto Millcreek Road, but you can take the Pipeline further down and exit at Rattlesnake Gulch. There are alternate routes along the way like the Mill D Trail. The upper Mill Creek Canyon section is only rideable by bikes on even days, so if you’re riding on the 31st you’ll have to take the Mill D route, which will take you back to Big Cottonwood Canyon, and shorten your ride.

With the exception of “Puke Hill” and 2-3 other short climbs, the trail is 20 miles of downhill. It’s insane. It starts way up at Guardsman Pass. A piece of singletrack called “Scott’s Bypass” starts the route and leads you around to the doubletrack “Puke Hill.” Once you make it to the top of this, you’ll have views here of Solitude Ski Resort and Park City. The biggest issue with the hill is that there are few flat places to stop, and you’ll really want to stop! Once you do, it’s hard to get started again.

Our local friend takes a break on Puke Hill.

From here you’ll continue left (the right trail is for Pine Cone Ridge) and encounter a bit of zooming downhill, a tiny bit of climbing, and then a great rolling section through gorgeous aspen trees. Soon the “spine” looms into view. This tricky and very technical section of trail is walked by most, though some people can ride it. There seem to be lines on the far left and far right but the only line I took was the one I was walking down.

Walking down the “spine”.

More coasting and rolling follows this part of the trail leading first to the intersection with the Mill D trail and then to the “baby spine”. The section just after this, in the canyon, was one of my favorites. There were creeks to blaze across and dark forests to wind through. When I stopped and realized there was mud on my glasses I grinned from ear to ear.

Biking through creeks on our way to Millcreek Road.

After 3 hours we popped out in a parking lot and my boyfriend said, “Well we’re halfway done!” I took a deep breath and prepared for more downhill; I was tired but I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from enjoying my first experience on this trail. We took off down a section of paved road. Flying around corners, my tires zinging and whistling on the pavement, I began to feel better. Nothing was going to stop me from enjoying this ride. At the turn for the Pipeline Trail I downed the remainder of my last Clif bar.

The Pipeline section was different from any of the other sections of trail. It had some exposure but mostly rolled along high above the canyon floor through a tunnel of trees. I kept stopping to look at the fall colors peeping through. Though I was tired I reminded myself that I was on one of the most well-known bike trails around. I took my time wandering through the trees.

Looking back on the Pipeline Trail

 

Millcreek Canyon views

After some insanely steep switchbacks meant more for hikers than bikers, we reached our stop at Church Fork. The Pipeline trail continues further, to Rattlesnake Gulch, but we decided to hit the road a little sooner. We cruised down the road and back to where we’d parked at 3900 S and Wasatch Blvd. Originally we had a shuttle ride reserved with the “Wasatch Crest Trail Shuttle” guy but our shuttle never showed. He says he did, but I’m not sure how three people looking for a van with a trailer could have missed him. Since my boyfriend and our local friend both had ridden the trail 50 or so times, we just drove one car to the top and created our own shuttle. It was fine, but it did take more time (especially after we’d waited half an hour extra on the shuttle).

I’m so glad that I had the chance to do this ride and I can’t wait to do it again. It’s a must for any serious mountain biker. The views, the miles of downhill, and the fish tacos at Lone Star Taqueria afterwards are absolutely worth any amount of travel time.

Lake Views on the Wasatch Crest Trail

 

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