While the snow had let up halfway through day one of our mountain bike adventure in ski land, it started dumping again that evening and snowed all through the night and into the next morning. Nevertheless, we piled on the warm layers, loaded into the van, and headed back up toward Guardsman Pass.
Conditions became even snowier, and the road was much sketchier than before, so our van didn’t even make it all the way to the top of the pass. We were only about a hundred yards from the top when the van lost traction, so we just offloaded the bikes, pushed them up to the top, and then waited out of the way as our skillful guides got the van and trailer turned around on the ice-covered mountain road. Rad skills, y’all
The snow was, if anything, deeper than it was the day before. Nevertheless, our primary goal for the day was to ride the legendary Wasatch Crest Trail. According to our guides, with the current amount of snow accumulation and the extended forecast, the only chance we had of riding the Crest was to get it while it was still snowy and frozen. The temps were supposed to shoot back up into the 60s over the next couple of days, and our guides predicted that the Crest would turn into a nasty mud fest. Jim Hodgson confirmed that their fears were correct, as his group of dudes, who happened to be in Park City the exact same time I was, rode the Crest the next day.
We rode/hike-a-biked our way up to the beginning of the Wasatch Crest Trail, up a doubletrack grade called Puke Hill. Thankfully, no one lost their breakfast on the way up, but it was a brutal ascent.
At the top of the mountain, those who had already arrived were starting to shiver, as the temps had only dropped as we climbed in elevation, up into the clouds. It was whiteout conditions on the top of the ridge, with snow coming down at close to an inch an hour.
Once everyone arrived at the top of the ridge, Scott circled us up and we had a serious chat. If we were to continue down the Crest, it would be over 10 miles until our next chance to exit, and then if we took a right it would be another 10+ miles of descending before we got back down the mountains. (Coincidentally, if you take a left where you’re supposed to take a right, the trail will drop you all the way down into Salt Lake City, instead of back into Park City. Jim might have to fill us in on what happens when you take a left instead of a right and drop off of a 10,000 foot mountain top the wrong direction.)
We quickly decided it would be downright dangerous to attempt the Crest in such whiteout conditions. While I agreed, I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed that we didn’t get to ride the Wasatch Crest on our trip, as that was one of the few trails that I was really hell-bent on riding. But that’s the way mountain biking is: you can only plan so much, and if mother nature chooses to deal you a crappy hand of cards, there’s not much you can do about it. Julie has ridden a portion of the Wasatch Crest before, so for more information you can check out her write up here.
We paused for a quick group picture, and then dropped down the new Pinecone Trail. Pinecone is normally a popular uphill route, since it is the only way to ride up to this end of the Wasatch Crest trail on singletrack. However, since no one else was stupid enough to ride in a snowstorm, we had the trail all to ourselves with no oncoming traffic!
The Pinecone singletrack flowed fast and furious down the mountain side. I slid out at least once or twice in the pow, but it was a blast! After all the practice from the previous day, by the time we finished the Pinecone Trail we had all gotten pretty good at slashing turns in the fluffy white stuff.
After dropping all the way down the Pinecone Trail, we met up with real dirt again, connected up with the Mid-Mountain trail, and took that all the way across the mountain to The Canyons Resort.
By the time we reached The Canyons, it was starting to snow yet again, and we were all pretty tired from the XC-style riding on Mid-Mountain. While there were no huge climbs, the trail really rolled, with quite a few uphill grades. Any climbing that you do at 8-9k feet is pretty serious.
We took a break at The Canyons Redpine Lodge, located at the top of the tram and the base of the bike park, and grabbed some lunch from the cafeteria/restaurant. We enjoyed some delicious, hot food and Mello Yello (at least, I drank some Mello Yello) as the snow started dumping again outside of the big picture windows.
After lunch, we dropped down Holly’s trail to the base of the resort. Holly’s was a fantastic all mountain-style descent, with fast turns, rocks, drops, a few small jumps–all told, a bomber run and the perfect finishing touch on the day!
The White Pine shuttle met us at the bottom of the mountain and took us back to Park City. I was so stoked to get back to the condo, grab a shower, clean up, kick back, and relax for a bit before supper.
By the time we hopped in the van, we had logged close to 19 miles of riding and 1,700 feet of climbing, despite getting the almost 3,000-foot shuttle assist to the top of the pass:
To watch select GoPro clips from our snowy ride, check out this video:
Lift Lodge Condos at the Town Lift Plaza
Town Lift Condos
I stayed in one of the condos above the Lift Lodge condos at the Town Lift plaza
Town Lift plaza, which is right on the main strip through downtown. When the lift is running, you can easily wheel your bike off the condo elevator, load up on the lift 15 feet away, and get a ride way up Park City Mountain Resort without ever having to pedal up a single foot of elevation. Some might call that lazy, but I call it awesome. Since most of the trails are XC-oriented, in PCMR anyway, you’ll probably have to do some climbing on your way back down the mountain or as you connect over to some other trails. Good enough.
As I mentioned in my initial post, while there are plenty of hotels in and around Park City, grabbing a downtown condo is definitely the way to go. If you have a few buddies to split the cost and you make a few meals in the kitchen, the $300 per night price for a 3-bedroom condo starts to sound very reasonable, especially when compared to the $1000+ cost per-night during the ski season holidays.
I personally stayed in a one-bedroom condo with a high, vaulted ceiling in the living area with big picture windows, since I was on the top floor:
The kitchen area was gorgeous, with excellent appliances, granite countertops, and cupboards stocked with all of the dishes and cooking utensils you’d need:
The bathroom was also gorgeous, and best of all, had a super deep tub with jets. After our long, hard, cold ride, I showered off, and then filled up the tub, turned on the jets, and soaked my tired muscles, enjoying the soothing blast of the jets.
Every night I slept like a baby, recharging for the long day ahead, thanks to the comfortable bed and excellent bedroom:
For more information on condos and other rentals, be sure to check out Park City Lodging for all the details.
Food and Drink
For our night on the town, we visited the Red Tail Grill for some delicious dining. While the beer selection wasn’t as good there as it was at some of the other local restaurants, they still had a couple of respectable local beers available.
To make up for the relative lack of local beer, we decided to hit up Park City’s own High West Distillery and Saloon for some legit local whiskey. High West also serves all manner of spirits, beer, and wine, as well as food.
High West was packed out with a long wait when we arrived, but somehow we got the local connection and scored a table immediately. Either that, or they thought we had reservations, and we stole someone else’s table. Whoops.
As you can see, I had a very busy few days in Park City… and it’s not over yet! Click here to read the last installment in the Singletrack Gold series.