Utah is world-renown for its mountain biking trails, but its foodie credentials are just being discovered. What if you could enjoy both?
Mountain biking in Utah ranges from family fun to an extreme sport, but regardless of speed or altitude, riders will work up an appetite. So, plan to enjoy a great meal at the end. Below are four Ride & Dine itineraries along the Wasatch Front for intermediate (according to general ratings) riders. Trail directions are provided for convenience, but always check the current maps and conditions before heading out. Enjoy and bon appétit!
Corner Canyon is Salt Lake County’s famed mountain bike trail system. It’s become so popular that it’s crept up and over into Utah County. You’ll find the Brookside Trailhead, the start of your short but action-packed ride and dining spot. Woods Hollow Trail starts just to the right of the parking lot. It’s a rolling 1.7-mile climb on mostly-smooth singletrack toward the houses perched above. Finally, turn left onto Eagle Crest for the last punchy climb to the top of Vertigo.
Vertigo is an intermediate downhill-only flow trail with sweeping views of Mount Timpanogos and Utah lake from large banked berms. If you want more jumps, bumps and tables, Levitate is a black downhill flow trail just right of Vertigo. For those that are not as adventurous or not quite sure, Rattle and Hum, a green flow trail, is about halfway up the Woods Hollow Trail. The terminus of each flow trail is the Brookside Trailhead, where you began. The Vertigo Loop is less than four miles (approximately 35 minutes), so you can do laps if time allows. Tip: Send a friend ahead to take photos and videos of you.
After you’ve worked up an appetite, head back up Suncrest Drive, about two miles to Ridge Cafe for a casual and delicious meal. With indoor and outdoor seating available, you can arrive in your dusty socks and share an authentic Stefano Ferrara Brick Oven Pizza or other exceptional Mediterranean fare with your bike or life partner.
The Mormon Pioneer Trail or MoPi, as locals refer to it, is a hidden gem between Salt Lake City and Park City. Exit East Canyon off I-80, head north and park at Little Dell Reservoir (there is no fee to park there). Tip: If you ride in the morning or late afternoon, take what-is-sure-to-be your holiday photograph of you, your bike, the mountain and the reservoir when the lighting is the best.
MoPi is an out-and-back trail that gets progressively more challenging as you go. The first section from the parking lot is two miles of gently rolling terrain that runs parallel to East Canyon Road and is perfect for families or new riders. Once you cross the road, the trail immediately hits several modest switchbacks that carry you up and over the trees. This middle section will warm up your legs for another 3.9 miles requiring a significant “kick” as you hit the road the second time. Most riders turn back here (and nothing is wrong with that!) as the last section gets even steeper and rockier. However, the ride back is one of the best. Just beware of—and yield to—hikers and climbing bikers along the way.
Yes, take more photographs before you pack the car. Then, turn left and a quick right on Emigration Canyon road, the route pioneers used to enter the Salt Lake Valley over 150 years ago and declared, “This is the place!” Before you reach that point, stop and eat at the famous (or infamous) Ruth’s Diner. Ruth’s is an institution, not just because of its huge helpings of comfort food (and the Bloody Marys that are borderline combustible), but because of the late, great Ruth herself, a smoking, loud, rabble-rousing pioneer woman of 20th Century Utah.
Powder Mountain is celebrating its Inaugural Summer Season as Dirt Mountain. It will premiere two (of the planned ten over five years) lift-served downhill mountain biking trails (open four days per week) and re-introduce many to its largely undiscovered cross-country trails (open every day). But don't let the hardcore-sounding pseudonym fool you! Picture instead riding through acres and acres of wildflowers overlooking the Pineview Reservoir.
For some, the Brim Trail is considered the most-scenic, most-accessible trail in Utah (OK, maybe I said that!). Park at Hidden Lake Lodge and ride the road to the trailhead. This loop around the “brim” of the mountain top climbs approximately 450’...over six miles, but don’t let its ease fool you. This is classic singletrack that takes you through the woods, around switchbacks and over the best and most-ridable rock garden (prove me wrong). It has something for everyone, and just about anyone can ride it.
If six miles seems too short, then exit onto Baggage Claim (or Brim Baggage to Baggage Claim) to the Paper Airplane trail, named for the giant metal sculpture created by artist Griffin Loop. This is the “Instagram Gold” trail. The cost, however, is the steep 100-yard climb to the road after capturing pics and videos of riding the immense and inviting work. So be prepared to walk it. It’s worth it. When you hit the road, ride back to Hidden Lake Lodge.
The hot tacos and cold beer are pretty hard to beat at Dirt Mountain, but if you’re riding during the week, head over to the Shooting Star Saloon in nearby Huntsville for burgers, beers, sodas, and chips…but no fries. Don’t even ask! As the oldest continuously-operating saloon west of the Mississippi, not much has changed since 1879, including not accepting credit cards. Yeah, it’s a great place.
There are multiple “ride & dine” options along the Alpine Loop between American Fork and Provo Canyons. First and foremost, the cross-country and lift-served downhill trails are fun, flowy and free from crowds at Sundance Mountain Resort. Sundance has always been a gem of a ski resort with its rustic-chic ambiance that caters to romantics and ramblers alike. It’s now extending its season and audience into the summer months by improving its existing hiking and mountain biking trails and building new lift-served downhill ones.
For an intermediate romp around the resort, take the Outlaw Express lift (the liftie will help you place your bike on a specially-designed bike chair) to Mandan Summit. Turn left and climb the short jeep road to the entrance to Decision Time. Turn left onto Sherwood Forest (Note: If trail-curious, except for two well-marked obstacles, my partner and I thought that Rock Drop trail to the right rode more like a “blue” run than a “black”). Upper Lift Line or the new Novice Flow Trail will intersect (both are great), merge and meet The Boneyard before heading to the base. The Boneyard is a fantastic side and lesser-used trail that takes you south of the resort ending at Lot E, where you counterintuitively must turn right on the road to get back to the lift.
Once you’ve explored these trails a half-dozen times, enjoy a leisurely lunch at the Foundry Grill. Tip: Make a reservation for an outdoor table at this popular restaurant the day before or in the morning before you ride. The menu is full of delectable items. After an adrenaline-filled riding session, you’ll be forgiven for ordering a plate of Dirty Fries just for yourself. If you still have legs, head out for a few more laps.