The Top 5 Downhill Mountain Bike Trails in Park City, Utah
Posted on May 09 2016
Nestled on the back of the Wasatch Mountains, Park City, Utah is well known for many reasons. The Sundance Film Festival, the "greatest snow on earth", the 7,000+ acre ski resort of Park City, and over 400 miles of pristine mountain biking single track. Unlike the freeride meccas of Teton Pass, Whistler, Squamish, or Winter Park, Park City is not as widely known for its downhill mountain biking trails. But don't worry, the downhill community is alive and flourishing in the mountain biking heart of Northern Utah.
Only in the last few years have the local ski resorts really began to embrace the gravity rider movement, though the history of Park City's downhill scene goes back much further. Like any good mountain town, if you don't have the trails you want, you set out to make your own. So the local shovels hit the dirt, and rouge trails were crafted, weaving through steep alleyways of Pine and Aspen, hidden to the masses. While I will showcase a few of our favorites, I will not disclose the locations of these trails.
When I first moved to Park City, I heard rumors of such trails, but didn't know where to begin. I was anxious to figure out their locations, but I didn't yet know any of the locals that could show me the way to their hidden gems. I spent an entire summer on a mission to find these downhill outposts, and bit by bit, I was able to piece the trails together. I put in the time and did the research, eventually earning the right to ride trails that weren't posted on any map.
Finding the trails was part of the adventure, and made me take pride in the trail and want to preserve it for others to find in the future. If you wish to find some of these trails, spend more time pedaling and exploring around Park City. Or come to one of our Shred N' BBQ's and follow the right guys, if you can keep up.
1. The Empire Trail
The oldest downhill trail that I know about in Park City, many today call this trail Evil Empire. I stick to the old guard and still call it Empire Trail. Which ever name you prefer, one thing that hasn't changed about this trail is its steep nature.This trail has many builders, and over the years it has continued to evolve and change. Fast and technical with thread-the-needle type features, you can never let your guard down. The moment you do, it will bite you. Hard.
In Empire's heyday it was home to some fortuitous north shore features. Dead fall and years of disrepair have made these features ominous ruins of a foregone era. Empire is also home of the local bootleg downhill race, the annual OTG run, where a 6 pack of beer gets you entry and winning gets you bragging rights for the year.
Originally the Norba Pro DH course at Deer Valley Resort, this trail remains the test piece of another bygone era. Largely agreed upon to be the most technical downhill course on the circuit, NCS is defined by challenging features like Little Niagara, Barney Rubble, and Whiskey Rock to name a few. Choosing a good line is essential on this trail, not only to be fast, but also to survive and stay rubber side down. NCS can be lapped by using the free city bus system, perfect for quick solo rides or those that don't have a good shuttle mobile. NCS will build your skill set early on in the season and makes the rest of your summer a lot easier. "Dude I can ride this for sure! It's not near as bad as Barney!"
Fairly new to the scene, this trail still has yet to reach its prime. This short, shuttle friendly, action packed shred is just down right fun. There is something for everyone on this trail. Foreplay, despite the name, doesn't start off fun and then leave you craving more. Through every bend and twist, there is a new feature thrown at you, and by the end of it all, you will be smiling like a lucky Freshman on prom night. Rumor has it it that the creators of Foreplay have some fresh trail projects in the works. Time will tell.
4. Raspberry Lane
Despite constructing some incredible underground downhill trails, the forefathers of freeride in Park City were not about to rest on their laurels. The Empire Trail was no longer enough to quench their thirst for jumps and techy descents. There was a need for a big boy trail. Bigger jumps, next level features and expertly manicured berms were calling out, seeking a place to be built. Who answered the call? The one known as The Ghost of the Wasatch, emerged from the mist. Roars of a chainsaw echoed through the trees, shovels clinked in the hills, and arduously crafted from the wild forest, Raspberry Lane was born. This trail needs no more introduction.
5. Tidal Wave
For a long time, the steep and technical trails have reigned supreme for downhill riders on the Wasatch back. However, there has been a longing for one of the resorts to step up their game up and bring some real flow to Park City. And not just any flow trail, but one that is purpose built by the one and only Gravity Logic. After years of beating the drum, Deer Valley's Steve Graff went to the plate for the DH community and hit a home run. Granted, this trail is mid-level intermediate, it brings a piece of pie to the table, that until now, has not been present in the Park City biking scene. Gigantic sculpted berms and smooth, flowy jumps fill this 50+ feature trail to the brim. Tidal Wave, in addition to being a ton of fun, also serves as a jumping off point for the masses to ride lift accessed gravity trails, and has shown the local mountain bike community that downhill is here to stay.