In the last seven weeks, I’ve ridden my mountain bike all over Utah, careening down swooping, banked trails through aspen groves near Park City and pedaling like Wiley Coyote into sandstone canyons in the south. If you like big mountains opt for Park City. If you prefer dramatic desert landscapes, head for Saint George.
Here are some highlights:
- Round Valley, a few miles downstream of postcard-perfect Park City on the northern side of the state, serves up a spiderweb of smooth, rolling trails under a big sky, with lots of open terrain and views of distant mountains on all sides. You’ll feel like you’re pedaling inside an enormous bowl, and in a way you are. But don’t worry – it’s not all flat. You’ll work up a lather chugging up and down the mostly non-technical terrain.
- Head to Deer Valley Resort, just up the road from snazzy Park City, where you can hitch a ride on a ski lift to access nearly 70 miles of corkscrewing singletrack. Gravity Logic designed and machine-built many of the trails, but if you like it old school, the park offers plenty of twisty, narrow, hand-cut options too. It all flows like milk from a bottle, rolling and pirouetting through pines, skirting big boulders and oozing down hillsides. The park opened 25 years ago, before most ski resorts offered biking.
- If you’d rather bike in the desert, head to the southwest corner of the state, where canyons carve through the landscape and red rock walls rise to the sky. The Bearclaw Poppy Trail, part of a network of single-track routes on the outskirts of Saint George, unfurls like a dirt rollercoaster track. We pedaled into a small canyon, onto the desert flats and down some short, steep drops. Just beware of Clavicle Hill. I’m pretty sure I know how it got its name.
- The terrain at Santa Clara River Reserve, on a mesa top outside of Saint George, feels more like Austin, with rocky ledges and cactus to snag your shins. But when you see the view off the cliff’s edge at the top of the Barrell Roll trail, you’ll know you’re not in Texas. Expect more technical trickery, too.
When I landed back in Austin, I headed out to my favorite local mountain biking trail at the Slaughter Creek Preserve,where 5 miles of single track cuts through a 100-acre swath of land set aside to protect water quality. Expect nice stair-steppy drops and rock gardens, with a flowy, rolling section at the end. The trail is open from dawn to dusk daily, but closes after rain to prevent erosion.(Check here for closure information.) You have to drive through an automatic gate to get to the trailhead, which is next to the old Trautwein homestead at 9901 Farm-to-Market 1826.
If you go biking in Utah: In the Park City area, White Pine Touring rents bicycles and offers guided mountain bike trips. For more information go to https://whitepinetouring.com.In the Saint George area, Paragon Adventures offers guided mountain biking trips. For more information go to www.paragonadventures.com.