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September 12, 2008

Sunday, Mid Mountain Trail

Filed under: MTB Travel, Park City 2007 — anotherheader @ 7:56 pm

Becky, climbing on Sweeny's Switchbacks

Becky, climbing on Sweeny's Switchbacks

The Crew: Bill, Becky, and Dave

Leaving the house was complicated by last minute clothing adjustments. The air temperature was cool to cold, in the mid to high forties, but fully dressed and standing in the sharp sun on a partly cloudy day, we were looking to bake on the climb. After the last minute changes, we ended up with the minimum amount of cold weather gear that we needed for the ride.

Becky’s only ride in Park City on this trip started with the climb Bill and I did on the first day, Sweeny’s Switchbacks to John’s Trail. Aside from being a reasonable climb that snaked its way up the hill through the aspens and evergreens, the route also allowed us to check out the trail conditions after yesterday’s rain. The tread conditions were damp, but firm, with only occasionally splashy spots.

We hadn’t settled on a route for the day. At the top of John’s Trail the conditions were good enough that we decided to finish what we started on Thursday—Mid Mountain Trail. Moving north from John’s Trail’s, we overlapped Thursday’s route until we reached Spiro Trail. With the previous day’s rain, the conditions were remarkably different yet still beautiful with less foliage on the trees, a grayish tint to the leaves on the trail, and a

Mid Mountain Trail, as it leaves PCMR and goes into dinosaur country

Mid Mountain Trail, as it leaves PCMR and goes into dinosaur country

musty, wet smell permeating the air. We were not alone in choosing Mid Mountain Trail. We saw more people on the trail this day than we had seen on the trails on all of the previous days combined. Nevertheless, there were few enough trail users that it still felt as if we had the trail to ourselves.

Past Spiro Trail in the Park City Mountain Resort, Mid Mountain Trail continues into dinosaur country for 14.3 miles until it reaches the next bailout point. For this segment, the trail stays around 1,400 feet above

Mid-Mountain Trail North of PCMR

Mid-Mountain Trail North of PCMR

the valley floor. After a short climb from Spiro, the trail gently declines and weaves amongst the French’s Mustard colored aspens. With the grade reversals built into the trail, the passage of this section feels like downhill ski racing, with repetitive unweighting on the high points and rolling and edging on the turns. This segment ranks near the top of our secret list of Park City favorites.

When the trail reaches the edges of The Canyons resort, the character changes. Here the trail, passing largely through evergreens, is wider and often machine built. Due to the resort related construction in the area, a reoccurring theme in Park City, the trail has seen many reroutes. The new segments are usually laid out well, but typically have a less well-consolidated tread and are more predictable.

Past The Canyons, we found our descending trail, Ambush. Ambush shoots off of Mid Mountain Trail and descends with continuous singletrack pleasure through dark green pines and white barked aspens tipped in bright colors. We took a break as the trail crossed a dirt service road. As Bill answered the call of nature, he said “Sweet”. First I thought, “Oh, no. He’s diabetic.” “That can’t be it”, I thought. Then I recalled Bill’s breakfast consisting of a veneer of oatmeal covering an inch thick slab of brown sugar and I figured that was about due to work its way through his system. “No. No. That can’t be it. His aim can’t be that bad.” I reasoned. Finally, I realized that he was just enjoying a view of the aspens. I must have been really tired if I didn’t get that sooner, though I wish he had chosen a different word to describe the sight.

Ambush Trail in the Canyons part of our descent

Ambush Trail in the Canyons part of our descent

Trail view on Ambush from the tread

Trail view on Ambush from the tread

We continued descending on singletrack and connecting dirt roads until we reached the virtually unoccupied base areas of The Canyons. A couple of long sets of stairs brought us to the bottom of resort five and a half hours after we began the ride. The sun was rapidly heading behind the mountains, and we were becoming chilled. We had planned on riding the paved bike trail back to the house, but we had all of our clothes that we carried with us on already and it was going to be very cold pedaling back. With a quick change of plans, we decided to take the free Park City bus back to town. It turned out that we were right next to the bus stop. Two minutes later, the bus arrived; we crammed in with our bikes, and were back in warmer climate of Park City in no time. It was meant to be.


Food recommendation: Dinner: Squatter’s Road House Grill, 1900 Park Ave


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