Your two-wheeled steed might be your most trusted friend when you’re traveling to a mountain biking destination, but there’s more to plotting a trip than adjusting your tire tread and air pressure. The locals in Park City, Utah, which is the world’s first (and so far only) IMBA Gold-level Ride Center, explain what to look for when scheming your next pedalfest.
Convenience plays a big role when you’re on vacation, and if you’re limited on time, the destination is more important than the journey getting there. Convenience is more than just experiencing a hassle-free arrival at your destination. Easily accessible trails, especially within pedaling distance of hotels, condos and cabins, means more time shredding the dirt and less time driving in search of trailhead access. Look for bike-in/bike-out accommodations, which make it easy to pound out rides morning, afternoon, or evening. For bike-friendly hotels and vaction rentals in the area check out Canyons Resort and Park City Lodging, dedicated IMBA supporters.
Heading out into unfamiliar territory doesn’t need to be difficult or frustrating to navigate. Well-marked trails, plenty of signage, area maps, and even guide books make it easy to figure out your game plan before leaving the trailhead and help you stay on course while you’re in the middle of a ride. Park City continues to invest in navigation tools, like real-time trail conditions, comprehensive maps and signs and local guidebooks that make it easier to explore more than 400 miles of single track that are packed into this town.
The quantity of trails in a single town makes a big statement, but having trails that accommodate all types of riding styles and ability levels is even more important. Incorporating an entire system of cross-country trails, downhill trails, dirt jumps and freestyle features, flow trails and even scenic rail trails allows more people of all ages and abilities to hop on a bike and start exploring something new. Plus, trails built to accommodate a wide range of ability levels are perfect for families or friends who ride at different speeds.
Temperatures and weather can dictate when and where you ride. Some destinations are impossible to ride in the summer because of heat or bugs, while others are covered in snow or too wet in the winter. Because of Park City’s high altitude and low humidity, summer conditions rarely affect your plans for a ride, no matter what time of the day it is. Even snow can’t keep bikers from exploring Park City’s trails in the winter, thanks to a dry snowpack and some low-angle terrain that is accessible from town.
Few people know the local trails better than the regulars who live and work for two-wheeled adventure. Many bike shops or touring companies offer guided bike trips to help visitors explore trails off the beaten path. Check out IMBA supporters, White Pine Touring or browse individual tours offered in the area through IMBA Destinations Tour Listings here. Whether you hire a guide to show you the area’s best routes or join a guided weekly shop ride, tapping into the knowledge of local guides exposes you to memorable trails you might not have ever found on your own.
You’ve got a bike, so why bother with a bus? Well, it’s usually a faster mode of transportation around town, but it also makes for a great alternative to shuttling cars back and forth to the trailhead. A free bus service in Park City, for instance, shuttles riders to some of the area’s best trailheads (or at least eliminates a serious chunk of unnecessary climbing) and lets you ditch the need for a car.
When the legs have given out, it’s time to scout out the local watering holes, fuel up on your favorite post-ride cuisine or take in a little culture — like the free outdoor concerts several nights a week in Park City. A town with plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes is essential for any bike getaway, and having options to occupy your downtime are essential for any good vacation. Plus, discovering local hotspots often makes for some of the best local flavors and memories of your destination mountain biking trip.
- written by Stephanie Nitsch, on behalf of Jans Mountain Recreation Experts
- photos by Ross Downward (first 2 shots) & Mike Schirf (winter shot), both courtesy of Jans Mountain Recreation Experts.