SNOWBIRD RESORT — Downhill mountain bikers have a new reason to get excited for the upcoming season. Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort is building two mountain-biking trails, which will offer riders a new and challenging playground to explore.
Troy Duffin, president of Park City-based Alpine Trails, is designing and constructing the new trails.
“We have the opportunity to provide a downhill trail served by the tram that’s going to be really long,” Duffin said. “Taking all the natural features into account, it will make it a fun ride. Snowbird’s really going to stand out for the length and terrain and all the other features about it.”
Duffin said one of the trails is 95 percent complete. It starts at the top of the Snowbird tram and descends seven miles through Gad Valley, ending at the Snowbird Center. It is a “two-way flow trail,” meaning it’s climbable from the bottom to the top.
However, Communications Manager Emily Moench said climbing to the top would be difficult, and recommends taking the tram. The trail will be open for hiking and uphill biking only until 10:30 a.m., and when the Tram opens it will be a one-way downhill for bikers only. The tram will be open daily through Oct. 14.
“To climb all the way to the top of the trail will require expert cardio fitness with intermediate technical skills, the descent can be achieved by lower intermediate riders and above,” she said. “The trail is not recommended for beginner riders.”
Moench said the trail traverses much of the Gad Valley area “going through beautiful wooded glades, open awe-inspiring meadows and challenging rocky terrain.”
Duffin said the seven-mile descent will include some jumps and high-speed sections. He said the trail will open after Alpine Trails adds “final touch-ups,” as soon as the snow melts.
Mountain bikers are always looking for a new and unique experience and I think this will be an experience they can't get anywhere else.
–Troy Duffin, president of Park City-based, Alpine Trails
The second trail is still in the planning stage. Vice President of Resort Operations Dave Fields said this trail will be “more of a downhill trail for advanced downhill-type bikers.”
Fields said it would be immediately adjacent to the new Gad Valley trail, and would run five to seven miles long. It would be rated for more advanced riders and would include more built-in features and jumps, requiring bigger suspension on bikes.
The Forest Service is still reviewing the plan, and could change or deny the trail Fields said.
“But the Forest Service has been battling illegal trails being built down Little Cottonwood Canyon so they’re happy to have a place like Snowbird to build the trails,” Fields said. “So far they’ve been very supportive of our efforts to put in more mountain biking trails.”
Fields said if all goes as planned, the downhill trail will be completed by the fall of 2014.
“It’s just spectacular up there at 11,000 feet looking down the canyon and at the valley,” Fields said. “It’s just incredible scenery that nowhere else in Utah has.”
Duffin said he’s excited about the new trails because of Snowbird’s unique terrain.
“Given Snowbird’s terrain, the length of the trails and the natural challenges we’re going to be able to incorporate, I think this is going to be unique, not just here but anywhere,” he said. “Mountain bikers are always looking for a new and unique experience and I think this will be an experience they can’t get anywhere else.”
The cost of the mountain-biking tram pass hasn’t been determined yet.
Sarah Romero is a journalism and photography student at Utah State University. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.