The best part of mountain biking the Wasatch area is the variety of trails, which allow all levels of riders to progress at their own pace. There are paved and park-like trails for beginners, a graduated level of more challenging rides for those who want to improve their skills and fearsome downhills on black-diamond resort runs that only experts can handle.
In order of difficulty, here are four great trails and a race that will make you glad you own a mountain bike:
JORDAN RIVER PARKWAY
This easy trail is 40 miles of flat, smooth asphalt by the Jordan River. The Salt Lake City section begins at Redwood Road near 1800 North and winds through a dozen cities before ending in Saratoga Springs. A few detours are necessary where the trail is incomplete or under construction, but most of the ride is a fun escape from the city—without being too far from civilization.
CORNER CANYON, DRAPER
A network of well-maintained trails built especially for mountain bikers of all levels makes this a five-star ride. The trailhead starts by Lynn Ballard Park in Draper, parking at the Equestrian Center (1600 E. 13400 South) There’s a board with a trail map, or you can nip into the Equestrian Center if it’s open and pick up a trail map. Corner Canyon also hooks up with the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
QUARRY TRAIL, LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON
Gauge your fitness by how many times you have to push your bike on this trail. It starts about five miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon, behind the digital sign. The first stretch is a mile of exposed sandy dirt, but after the water plant, it’s a shady tunnel through the trees along a steadily climbing, occasionally technical trail.
PIPELINE TRAIL, MILLCREEK CANYON
Start at the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail trailhead. There’s a steep climb at the beginning; most people have to push their bikes up it. You’ll come to a T. Turn left for a beautiful view where you can see the whole Salt Lake Valley. The right turn takes you along the contour of the mountain and comes out at Elbow Fork. Since the trail follows around the mountain contours, it’s not too steep and it’s beautifully scenic.
Mountain bike racing is fun, and you don’t have to be an expert to do it. The Intermountain Cup is an excellent event at which to give it a try. It’s a regional cross-country race series started by Ed Chauner nearly a quarter century ago. There are 26 categories to enter at each event, including one for kids 9 and under. The average course length varies according to ability; beginners race for about an hour, intermediates for about 90 minutes, experts and pros race about two hours. The top three in each category at each race get a gift certificate or prize, and the top six get ribbons. Cost to enter pre-event is $34, day-of entry is $40. Chauner says, “It’s a good race for a beginner who wants to try competition. You don’t even have to buy a license.” Upcoming races are scheduled for June 9, June 30, July 7, July 28, and Aug. 4. More information at InterMountainCup.com.