Utah is known far and wide for its remarkable outdoor adventures. While most people know Utah for ‘The Greatest Snow on Earth,” not quite as many people know Utah for having some of the best trails as well. As a professional mountain biker living in Utah, I can confidently say that the state has everything I need in order to be successful. The trails, easy access, and community all come together to create an optimal atmosphere for professional and amateur cyclists alike.
1. The Whole Enchilada – Mountain Bike Utah’s Finest Trail
The Whole Enchilada is one of the most iconic trails in all of the United States. It starts just above 11,000 feet at the top of Burro Pass and then descends some 7,000 feet in just over 26 miles.
After being dropped off by your shuttle you will encounter a steep and difficult climb up to the top of Burro Pass. It will be the hardest climb of the day. After that climb, you are in for some extremely iconic descents and views. One of the things that makes the Whole Enchilada famous is the change of terrain as you descend down the mountain. You will encounter a wide variety of obstacles to test your skills.
Burro Pass: Burro Pass will test your descending skills immediately. It is high alpine riding with lots of trees, loose dirt, tight switchbacks, and steep shoot-like trails.
Hazard: Hazard will be your first experience with the changing terrain. After having been surrounded by trees down Burro Pass, you will find yourself in tight single-track trails in desert terrain. The trail is very narrow with lots of turns, sandy corners, and surprise rock gardens.
Porcupine Rim: After a few hours in the saddle, by the time you reach Porcupine Rim, you are bound to be tired which will make this challenging terrain even harder. Porcupine Rim features a lot of rock slab riding, significant drops, and steep roll ins.
Pro Tip: The temperature at the top of Burro Pass can be nearly half of what it is in town so make sure to pack extra jackets and warm gloves.
Where is the Whole Enchilada?
The Whole Enchilada is located in Moab, Utah. You can ride your bike to the top of the descent; however it is about 7,000 feet of climbing on fire road and will be an all day adventure. Most people will choose to shuttle the Whole Enchilada. You can book a shuttle through Poison Spider Shuttles or Coyote Shuttles for $30 a ticket. The shuttle is about an hour ride to the top. You will need to arrive fully kitted up because you cannot leave extra clothing or equipment in the shuttle throughout the day. There is one toilet at the top of the trail, and no more on the way down. There is no water and you are greatly removed from town so make sure you carry everything you need in order to get yourself down the mountain.
Bike Shops Supporting The Whole Enchilada:
Since the start of the descent is so far from town, you will need to get your bike or equipment serviced before leaving downtown Moab. Luckily, there are a lot of shops to pick from. Here are just a couple of examples.
Poison Spider Bicycles: Open 8 am – 7 pm. They offer full service and rental bikes. https://poisonspiderbicycles.com/shop-location-and-information/service/
Rim Cyclery: Moab’s oldest bike shop. Open 7 days a week 8 am-6pm
2. Deer Valley Resort – Jumps, Lifts and More for the MTBer
Deer Valley Resort is one of the best lift-accessed downhill resorts that Utah has to offer. The resort has 3 chair lifts, 40 different mountain bike trails, and nearly 70 miles of downhill. The trails range from beginner to expert. There are trails with big jumps, flow, and step ups as well as trails that target more chunky and awkward terrain. No matter what you are training for, you are likely to find a similar feature at Deer Valley Resort.
Tidal Wave: This is the most ridden trail at Deer Valley. It is a fast flow trail with medium to big table top jumps. The jumps are very safe and all of them can be cut short without serious consequences. The trail is intermediate in nature.
Holy Roller: Holy Roller is the most beginner trail at Deer Valley. The trail is very smooth with lots of small rollers to keep momentum going. Experts should stay off of this trail as too much speed can be dangerous.
Fireswamp: This is an extremely technical expert only downhill trail. It is loose with large rocks, drops, and extremely steep sections.
Pro Tip: Consider putting a tire gauge in your pack. There are pumps at the bottom of the lifts to help you get back on the trails if you have a flat, but you’ll want to check your pressure to ensure that you can finish out with a great day on the trails.
Where is Deer Valley Resort:
Deer Valley Resort is located in Park City, Utah. The chairlifts are open July 14th-September 22nd from 10 am-5 pm. They also offer Twilight hours on Tuesday nights from 4-8 pm. A full day bike pass on the weekend is $53. A Tuesday night pass is $25. Parking is free and you will have easy access to restrooms from all of the lifts. There are also a variety of restaurants to eat at if you get hungry throughout the day.
Bike Shops Supporting Deer Valley Resort:
Park City Bike Demos: This bike shop is located less than 3 miles away from the resort. Open Thursday-Monday 9 am- 6pm.
Jans Mountain Recreation Experts: Less than 3 miles from Deer Valley. Open 7 days a week from 9 am-6 pm.
3. The Wasatch Crest Famed Mountain Bike Trail
The Wasatch Crest trail is one of the most famous trails in Park City, Utah. The Wasatch Crest trail itself is only about 5 miles long, but connects to a variety of trail options creating nearly an hour and a half long descent starting high above Park City.
The Wasatch Crest trail sits just below 10,000 feet and sits upon a ridge creating an incredible 360 degree view of the valley below. While soaking up the breathtaking views, the trail will keep you on your toes with high speed sections, a couple of short steep climbs, the infamous sharp and technical ‘spine’ feature, and some rock obstacles to keep you honest.
While the Wasatch Crest Trail is the main attraction, the trail can be accessed through a variety of challenging and exhausting climbs (or a shuttle) and the descent extends far beyond the Crest Trail via two main and equally exciting routes.
Wasatch Crest to Canyons Resort: The Wasatch Crest to Canyon’s Resort route descends nearly 3000 feet in approximately 12 miles. It takes you through heavily forested singletrack with many tight switchbacks and fast rolling sections. You will finish this ride at Canyon’s Resort in Park City, Utah. You can then ride a bike path back to Park City Mountain resort if you started your ride from there.
Wasatch Crest to Mill Creek: This route descends nearly 5000 feet in just under 20 miles. This route will take you through a variety of terrain including a wide open descent through meadows, heavily forested section, and finishing on a twisty-turny tight single track trail. You will finish this ride in Mill Creek Canyon in Salt Lake City. These trails are on a trail share system and can only be ridden on even numbered days.
Pro Tip: Since there is so much descending along these routes, the climbing is often over looked. There are a few short but challenging climbs along the route so come mentally and physically prepared.
Where is The Wasatch Crest Trail:
The Wasatch Crest Trail is located just under 10,000 feet of elevation in Park City, Utah. You can access the trail through a variety of options. Most people prefer to access the Wasatch Crest by shuttle. You can book a shuttle through the Fox ‘N Rox Shuttle service. https://foxnroxshuttle.com/park-city-mountain-bike-shuttle/
If you have strong climbing legs and wish for a bigger workout then you can access the Wasatch Crest Trail via Park City Mountain Resort. You can climb up via the Pinecone trail or via Shadow Lake and Puke Hill.
Bike Shops Supporting the Wasatch Crest:
- Contender Bicycles: This bike shop is located just over 3 miles from Park City Mountain Resort so it is easy access for anyone planning to ride up to the top of the Crest. It is open Monday-Saturday 9 am- 6pm. https://contenderbicycles.com/bicycle-service/
- Hangar 15 Bicycles: This bike shop is the closest shop to the shuttle pick up location. It is open Monday-Saturday 10 am-7 pm. https://www.hangar15bicycles.com/
4. Park City Mountain Resort – Perfect for MTB Training
Park City Mountain Resort is a cross country mountain biker’s paradise. There are over 100 different mountain bike trails with seemingly endless combinations and miles to explore. There are smooth and gradual beginner trails, challenging climbing and descending trails, as well as expert descents.
As a professional mountain biker, I do the majority of my training on these trails because I think I can experience a lot of different types of terrain and simulate courses. There are trails that are perfect for intervals, while others are great skills practice.
Armstrong: Armstrong trail is an uphill only trail. It’s about a 30 minute climb that can be extended with other trails. It has a few undulations and varies in gradient. It has smooth switchbacks and a couple of small rock obstacles. It’s a great way to access a lot of the higher elevation trails in Park City.
John’s Trail: John’s Trail can be ridden both up and downhill. It is an extremely tight and twisty trail. The trail is laden with roots and tight trees to weave between. It is the perfect trail to practice your precise riding skills.
Black Forest: Black Forest is an expert only downhill trail. It is extremely steep with tight turns. There are a few roots and small drops that can catch you off guard if you aren’t prepared. A dropper post is highly recommended for this trail.
Pro Tip: Despite being a resort, it can be difficult to find water in this area. During the summer months you can find water jugs at the top of all of the lifts as well as at the Viking Yurt.
Where is Park City Mountain Resort:
Park City Mountain Resort is located in Park City, Utah. Parking is free and you can be on the trail immediately from the lot. There are restrooms in the village but they can be a bit of a hike so it’s best to do your business before arriving. While the trails at PCMR are primarily build for cross country, if you wish to ride the lift up and ride the trails down then you can purchase a season pass for $129.
Bike Shops Supporting Park City Mountain Resort:
Storm Cycles: Located 6 miles from the resort, this shop has been voted Park City’s best bike shop. They are open 7 days a week from 9 am – 6 pm.
White Pine Touring: This shop is located less than 2 miles away from Park City Mountain Resort. Open 7 days a week from 9 am- 6 pm.
5. Gooseberry Mesa MTB Trail System
The Gooseberry Mesa Trail System is located in Hurricane, Utah. After you turn off of the highway you will drive for about 30 minutes on a dirt road. The trails are worth the journey. The Gooseberry Mesa Trail System has about 18 trails to offer, but is most famous for its big loop.
Tire selection is super important in the slick rock conditions found in UTAH. Learn more about tires and rocks in this article – Best Mountain Bike Tires for Rocky Terrain.
The Gooseberry Mesa Big Loop is 13.1 miles with just over 500 feet of climbing and descending. Don’t let the minimal climbing fool you, the average person will take almost four hours to complete this difficult trail. The trail is undulating with large amounts of slick rock, twisty singletrack, and big sand mounds. If nothing else, the vista views are worth the ride!
6. Zen Trail – Expert MTB Only
The Zen Trail is located in St. George, Utah. Due to its southern location it can be ridden nearly year round. The Zen Trail is a 5 mile loop with about 1,000 feet of climbing and descending. You can park off of West Canyon View Dr. in the dirt lot off of the neighborhood and ride straight down onto the trail.
Which Tires do the PRO’s Use? Read exactly what sticks to Slick Rock in this article – Best Mountain Bike Tires for Rocky Terrain.
This trail is a black diamond trail and should only be ridden by expert riders. The climbs are equally as challenging as the descents. The majority of this trail is on slick rock and forces the rider to navigate and lift the bike up and over small rock ledges. The descents can be challenging as well with some tough to anticipate features and some tight and challenging turns.
Pro Tip: When riding the trail many of the steep rocks will appear to be drops but are actually roll ins. Make sure to check your lines your first time through the trail to establish what you can and cannot ride.
7. Mag 7 – 24 Miles of MTB Suspension Workout
The Mag 7 trail system is located in Moab, Utah. It has 24 trails that range from intermediate to expert. As you make your way through the trails you’ll find plenty of maps to help you navigate your way. The trails are fast and flowy with enough uphills to make you work, but plenty of rocky and chunky downhills to make it worth having a little extra suspension.
If you are in for an extra challenge try riding the Portal trail all the way back into town. You can shuttle this trail using Poison Spider Shuttles so that you can ride the black and double black diamond trails all the way down. The Portal trail is for experts only. Make sure that you have plenty of daylight because the trail is slow moving and the small amounts of climbing will be challenging. There are also extremely exposed areas that should not be taken lightly. When in doubt, walk.
Pro Tip: The trail gets progressively harder as you head from Mag 7 down toward town so make sure you save energy and don’t be overly confident at the start.
8. Captain Ahab – A Rocky MTB Ride
Captain Ahab is an extremely challenging trail located in Moab, Utah. If you are not an expert rider then you will likely find yourself completing more hike-a-bike than actually riding. Captain Ahab is just over 4 miles long but will take the average person about an hour to complete. The climb isn’t very steep but is extremely taxing due to large rock step ups and short sections that require powerful pedal strokes to maneuver up. The downhill section of Captain Ahab is rough with multiple rock drops, tight sections, and high consequence areas.
You will park off of Moab Kane Creek Blvd. There is also a bathroom available for trail users.
Pro Tip: The trail can be a challenge to follow since it is primarily winding through slick rock. The best way to follow the trail is to watch for the blue arrows painted on the rock.
9. Corner Canyon Trail System – Mountain Biking Variety
The Corner Canyon Trail System is located in Draper, Utah and has 141 trails. The trails are well built, groomed, and maintained. The climbing trails in this area are manicured to the perfect gradient to allow for optimal power output, while the downhill trails offer a variety of challenges to hone your skills. There are trails that would be appropriate for all skill levels.
If you are looking for a fast flow trail with a few jumps and doubles then Rush and Lower Rush would be your perfect trail. If you prefer a downhill experience that is more chunky and natural then Jacob’s Ladder or Maple Hollow will be your preferred experience.
There are parking areas all around Corner Canyon, but the best place to park is at the equestrian center off of Highland Dr.
Pro Tip: Corner Canyon is often one of the first trails to dry out in the early spring and to still be open in the late fall. Riding in the mud though does create ruts on this trail so be responsible and check conditions before you go.
10. Canyon’s Bike Park – Cross Country MTB
Canyon’s Bike Park is located in Park City, Utah. Canyon’s used to be a lift-accessed downhill park, but now caters to cross country riding. Canyon’s has eliminated its largest downhill runs, but because of its history it still have some fun, fast, and flowy descends to offer. The trails are largely focused on the intermediate rider. They don’t have many big features and they focus more on speed in tight singletrack trails.
Parking is free at Canyon’s and you will start your ride on a climb. The resort frequently puts on big events so exercise caution as you ride through the village.
11. Brian Head Resort – MTB for All Skills
Brian Head Resort is a lift-accessed downhill park located in Dixie National Forest in Southern Utah. The resort has at least 42 downhill trails that range from beginner to expert in level. The beginner trails are flowy and offer beautiful views and the chance to improve skills as you gradually work your way down the mountain. On the other hand, the expert or advanced trails include big features, rock chutes, and challenging enough terrain to even make even the best riders pucker.
You can purchase a season pass for $199 or a day pass for $35. In addition to lift access there is also access to backcountry or marathon style riding if you want an extra workout on top of your downhill runs. For an additional price you can rent a bike, take a lesson, or enjoy some of the other activities that the resort has to offer.
Pro Tip: If you rent a bike then consider paying the extra $10 for insurance. You don’t want to spend the day worrying about small scratches or blemishes.
12. Snowbasin Resort – Smooth Singletrack
Snowbasin Resort is located in Ogden, Utah and has 48 miles of trails to offer. For all-day lift access, you can purchase a ticket for just $25. If you would prefer to pedal though, you can use the trails free of charge.
One of my favorite trails at Snowbasin Resort is Sardine Peak. It has just over 1,000 feet of climbing and descending. There are no difficult obstacles so the trail should be rideable by mountain bikers of all ability levels. The trail is primarily smooth singletrack with some fun switchbacks on the descent. You will climb up through groves of trees and be rewarded by an incredible view of the Pineview Reservoir at the top.
13. Jeremy Ranch – Flying Dog Loop
The Flying Dog Loop located in Jeremy Ranch, Park City, Utah is a great cross country loop for beginners and expert riders alike. It is closer to Salt Lake than most of the classic Park City trails so it is an easier commute for people who live in the valley.
The loop can be made longer or shorter depending on what type of a ride you are looking for. The trail is almost entirely singletrack but is not too technical. It doesn’t have large rock features, but has some loose rock on the top of the trail that can add some challenge to speed and cornering. As an added bonus you will ride by a few beaver dams along the trail which are always fun to check out.
Pro Tip: Most people complete the Flying Dog Loop in a counterclockwise direction. Two way traffic is permitted though, so use caution.
14. Bobsled Trail – Mountain Bike Jumping CARS!
Bobsled Trail is one of the most popular trails in the Salt Lake City valley. You will need to do some climbing in order to reach it though. Bobsled Trail is a 1.6 mile descent with over 900 feet of vertical descent throughout.
The descent is steep with big berms and optional jump lines. The jumps are iconic because they have old rusted cars in between the take off and landing. While the consequences are high for not making the jump, it makes for a good picture if you are brave enough and skilled enough to send it.
Pro Tip: This trail responds well to water so if most of the trails are closed due to rain, this would likely be your best bet.
15. Sundance Resort – Summertime MTBing
Sundance Resort is a lift-accessed downhill park in Provo, Utah. The resort offers over 25 miles of single-track downhill trails. The resort opens much earlier than other downhill parks with a projected opening day of May 17 and it stays open until October 6th.
The trails at Sundance range from beginner to expert, with most of them being intermediate in nature. The trails offer undulating descents and very scenic views of Mount Timpanogos. A couple of the trails have moderate drops, but any significant features have go-around options.
Pro Tip: There is limited cell phone service at Sundance Resort so plan for a day off of the grid.
Clubs and Groups Supporting Mountain Biking in Utah:
All too often do we ride incredible trails without stopping to think about how they got there in the first place. Let’s take a moment to thank some of the groups that make riding bikes in Utah possible.
Mountain Trials Foundation: This non-profit organization is located in Park City, Utah and works to build, protect, and maintain trails in the Park City area. Additionally, they help to educate trail users through signage on trails as well as online newsletters. Finally, they help to fund their trail projects through four main events that take place in Park City. https://mountaintrails.org/
Dixie Mountain Bike Trails Association: DMBTA is an IMBA chapter and works to build and enhance trails in Southern Utah. You can become a member and help the cause by visiting their website. https://dmbta.org/join/membership/
Moab Trails Alliance: MTA is a non-profit organization that works to expand cycling opportunities for everyone in the Grand County. https://moabtrails.wordpress.com/
Bike Parks in Utah:
One of the best ways to improve your skills is to practice them in a controlled setting. Luckily, Utah has plenty of bike parks to help you prepare for any obstacles that the trails might bring.
- Trailside Bike Park: Trailside Bike Park is located in Park City, Utah and it is the perfect place for beginners and experts to practice their skills. The park has cross country trails, drops, jumps, a pump track, and specialized features. I personally love sessioning my skills in this controlled setting before taking them to the trails.
- Jeremy Ranch Pump Track: Before heading out on the Flying Dog Loop you can practice your skills at the pump track in the parking lot. I love it when trail systems have their own pump track. It’s the perfect way to warm up your skills before hitting the trails.
- Snake Hollow Bike Park: This bike park is located in St. George, Utah. Its southern location allows for year-round access to the 80 acre park featuring four distinct skills zones: dirt jumps, pump track, drops, and a slopestyle course. https://www.sgcity.org/parkstrailsandcemetery/cityparks/snakehollow
Why Mountain Bike in Utah:
Utah makes getting tires to the trail as easy as possible. The state is riddled not only with easy and amazing trail access, but with communities and people who want to help you find your way. That state is home to many professional riders, but even more amateurs and weekend warriors that find their freedom on the trails. At the end of the day, if you still don’t want to come ride your bike in Utah, then I guess that just means more trails for me.