Trailhead & Singular Track

By Melissa Fields June 1, 2014 Published in the Summer/Fall 2014 issue of Park City Magazine

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Charlie Sturgis

In the first days after Charlie Sturgis became executive director of the Mountain Trails Foundation, e-mails about conflicts between trail users overflowed his inbox. “And when I used the trails myself, I’d often see between 10 and 12 dog poop bags on any given stretch,” he recalls. “It was obvious that there needed to be a little more civility and respect out there.”

Which is how he came up with 10 Seconds of Kindness, a campaign promoting the little things like using a bike bell or putting dogs in a sit-stay when encountering others. As a result, Sturgis has noticed far fewer plastic bags left on the trail, and e-mail complaints are now rare. “It was about getting people to do the right thing in a positive way,” he says. “The trails here log more than a million user days annually, and that’s growing every year.”

In collaboration with other trail advocacy organizations, Mountain Trails spearheads projects like the WOW (Wasatch Over Wasatch) Trail, which will connect Park City riders to the Heber City/Midway area similar to the way the Crest Trail connects Park City to the Wasatch Front. “The Heber City area is just now emerging as a trail destination much like Park City was 15 years ago,” Sturgis explains. Though as of press time alignment details were still being worked out, the general route of the 24-mile trail runs from the backside of Deer Valley, through Wasatch County’s Dutch Hollow and Pine Canyon, to the Pine Creek Campground in Wasatch Mountain State Park—with a rideability and overall grade similar to that of the Mid Mountain Trail. “My ultimate goal is to make northern Utah’s portion of the Great Western Trail completely ride-through,” Sturgis says—ideally, without a poop bag in sight.

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The Wasatch Crest Trail

Singular Track

Epic is just one of the many descriptors fat-tire devotees use to wax poetic about the Wasatch Crest Trail. This unforgettable ride spans the Wasatch Range’s highest ridgeline between Park City and Big Cottonwood Canyon; 20-plus mile route featuring everything from rough rock- and root-pocked doubletrack sections to flowy, singletrack lanes surrounded by sweeping backcountry views, colorful wildflower meadows, and dappled aspen groves.

One of the most popular ways to ride the Crest is from the top of Guardsman Pass down through Millcreek Canyon (where bikes are allowed only on even-numbered days). Begin riding from the Guardsman Pass parking area at the Scott’s Bypass trailhead up to Scott’s Pass. Take the doubletrack to your left, heading uphill onto the stiffest climb of the ride (affectionately known as Puke Hill). Stay left at the top of the hill, rolling to the Crest’s sweet spot: smooth singletrack surrounded by incredible views into Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons and Park City.

Just above Desolation Lake you’ll come to the Spine, a super technical but short stretch of red rock you don’t need to be ashamed of walking, as a serious injury here would require a helicopter. Keep right at the bottom of the Spine, following the signs to the Lower Big Water Trail, which descends all the way to the pavement in Millcreek Canyon. And don’t think you have to pedal back to the top of the Crest. With a reservation, Big Rack Shuttle (801.882.7225) will ferry you to Guardsman Pass for $10 per rider.

Though this ride is truly epic, any climbing route to the Mid Mountain Trail within all three resorts will get you to the Crest. Boldly go. You won’t regret it.

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