Mid-Mountain and Crest Trails


There are those unforgettable moments in life when idealistic imaginings collide with reality and experience to create iconic and lasting, even transcendent days. For me, those days come in the form of airy, creamy powder in the winter, and flowy, extraordinary singletrack in the summer. And living along the Wasatch Front provides absurdly easy access to both. Indeed, as I ride my bike I can see ridges and meadows that I skied months ago, creating a sense of familiarity and friendship with the very terrain itself. There are times when those moments are anticipated, expected and unsurprising—though still just as fantastic. But there are other days, or more often than not, minutes or perhaps hours that come out of oblivion, unforeseen and improbable that catch you so off guard as to be altogether alarming.

Keith Payne and Paul Moote on the Wasatch Crest Trail.

Such was the case on Friday, July 3rd, 2009, while riding the Crest and Mid-mountain trails.

And yet, it seems utterly absurd to think that a loop on the Wasatch Crest and the Mid-mountain trails should be anything less than superlative. But even so, I found myself grinning stupidly from ear to ear, whooping, hollering and altogether having the time of my life on trails that were so perfect, and so immaculate as to conjure up wonderment as to whether or not I’d somehow perished and was now riding through the eternities in some sort of singletrack paradise.

It really was that good.

From the active and threatening clouds, to the rich and deep green of the pines and aspens, to the popping intensity of the wild flowers and the serenity of high altitude, snow fed lakes, the day was simply perfect. Somehow the predicted storm swirled around us, seemingly conscience of our whereabouts as we traversed and climbed and sped along what was shaping up to be the year’s best day on the bike. The Crest itself was empty, void of any other bikes, and nearly human-free entirely. I find myself at a loss to truly describe the childlike joy we experienced. Alas, instead I am being overly hyperbolic, exaggerated, and sensational.

But what other way is there to describe one of those rare and fleeting moments?

That combination of freedom and fitness and the melding of man and machine all meshed together to create that day, and that moment. An effusive day that will always be remembered when there is doubt, when there is pain, fear and that disturbingly insistent voice of reason trying heroically to cast one off the bike and into the flow of mainstream life, sedentary and flabby.

Well, perhaps I have gone to far. But then, perhaps not. Regardless, the ride, left me wondering, and struggling to think of a legitimate answer whether or not it gets any better? And of course it does. And that is why we return, again and again to the rugged mountains and the vast deserts. That is why we crawl out of bed at those forsaken hours before the sun has even thought of rising and brave the elements and the unknown and the thumping heart of hard earned, leg scorching and lung burning efforts. The rewards of which are impeccable sunrises, breathtaking sunsets, and a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that can only come after a day of fighting off the nagging and persistent law of gravity.

It might be summed up rather succinctly that we do it, simply for the view. And it might also be said that the process to obtain those views plays a part as well. Ultimately the sums of those various parts—the effort and the reward—are those days. Unforgettable, unexpected, incredible and unfettered in their joy and experience that bring us back over and over again.

How to get there:

Start and finish at Park City Mountain Resort, in the lower most parking lot. 1310 Lowell Avenue, Park City, Utah. www.parkcitymountain.com

Basic Statistics: 30 Miles. 4,500 vertical gain. Plan to be in the saddle for 3-6 hours, depending on your physical ability and technical skills. Plan for various weather and riding conditions. Some areas, specifically on the Crest Trail can be quite remote. June-September, depending on the snow pack.

Basic Trail Route:

  • Climb up the Spiro Trail into Thayne’s Canyon.
  • Continue up the Crescent Mine Grade to Scott’s Pass.
  • At Scott’s Pass follow the signage to the Wasatch Crest Trail.
  • Stay on the Crest Trail until it intersects the Mid-mountain Trail.
  • Continue across the Mid-mountain Trail back to Thayne’s Canyon.
  • Descend the Crescent Mine Grade and Spiro Trail, back to the parking lot.

Note: One can descend all the way into the Canyons Resort at the Wasatch Crest/Mid-mountain intersection, in order to ride back to Park City Mountain resort on the paved bike path. This will eliminate the Mid-mountain Trail, and shorten the ride.

Resupply: Food and water are available at Red Pine Lodge. Contact The Canyons Resort for hours of operation. www.thecanyons.com

For a detailed map and GPS file of this route, visit: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/8067216

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