Words and Photos by Mike Smart of Leska MTB Racing
Located in the Central Wasatch Mountain Range is the well-known Wasatch Crest Trail or sometimes referred to as “Crest.” This 20+ mile of high-alpine single track offers 360-degree views of both Park City and Salt Lake City and will require some advanced bike handling skills along with some preparation. Crest is unique because it has multiple access points and ride options and still provides a true backcountry mountain bike experience. For those that live in the area, and after the snow clears from the 9,600 feet elevation, Crest becomes a weekly ride between the months of June and September.
While multiple shuttle options are available from both the Salt Lake City and Park City sides of the mountain range, I prefer to make a loop out of the trail for a longer training ride.
In a recent article, we referenced the Armstrong Trail for accessing many of the trails located in Park City, UT. This same trail can be used to access the Wasatch Crest. The Trailforks app always comes in helpful for navigation and the following can be used for a quick overview of this loop:
- Start at Park City Mountain Resort Parking Lot
- Take Armstrong Trail to Mid-Mountain, then Mid-Mountain to Pinecone
- Pinecone tops out at the start of the Wasatch Crest. Follow the Wasatch Crest North
- End of Wasatch Crest splits in two directions – take the right turn towards Park City and Mid-Mountain Trail
- Mid-Mountain Trail will return you to Crescent Mine Grade
- Take Crescent Mine Grade back to the Park City Mountain Resort Parking lot
- Finish at Park City Mountain Resort Parking lot
This is an epic loop and can easily take 4+ hours when you factor in the 4,100 feet of total elevation gain, in a high-alpine environment, over 32 or so miles of mountain biking. Take plenty of water, snacks, and pictures to make this ride one to remember.
Niner Shop Support Options:
Backcountry.com has a retail store located in Salt Lake City, UT and offers a Niner Bikes demo program to folks visiting the area and need a capable trail bike. They offer daily rates and can get you outfitted with everything you need to have a successful day. Best way to get a hold of them is to call them and find out availability first:
Backcountry.com retail store
- 2607 3200 W, West Valley City, UT 84119
Recommendations for the Epic Wasatch Crest Training Loop:
- Take plenty of water! This loop can take at least 4 bottles of water. Take a 2-liter Camelbak and at least 2-3 additional bottles with you. Promise you will use them.
- Spare tube, hand pump, tire levers, valve core, and patch kit.
- Pack a light jacket – temperatures up high will be significantly cooler than starting off in the parking lot. Storms roll in fast when in the mountains.
- Pack some snacks and enjoy the views. I take 2 gels, 2 cliff bars, and a special snack when taking a break at the top.
- Make sure that cell phone is charged. You‘ll be stopping a lot to take pictures :-) Download the TrailForks app so you never get lost.