Best Places to Ride & Dine: Wasatch Back

By Paula Colman Jul 15, 2022
Park City and Deer Valley are some of the biggest names in skiing, but their mountain biking trails and restaurants are also great reasons to visit Utah.
Best Places to Ride & Dine: Wasatch Back

Park City and Deer Valley are two of the biggest names in alpine skiing, but when the snow melts, trails of “brown pow” appear providing mountain bikers some of the country’s best terrain. Riders of all levels will require a lot of fuel for that energy and adrenaline. Below, find some great “Ride & Dine” itineraries and discover why folks “Come for winter. Stay for summer.” These trails are generally considered intermediate but always check current maps and conditions before heading out.

Slate Creek and The Notch

The U.S. Forest Service and South Summit Trails Foundation are working together to build Slate Creek, a woodland mountain bike trail system just minutes from Park City and Kamas in the Uinta Mountains. Just seven miles up the scenic Mirror Lake Highway, riders park at the Yellow Pine Trailhead and then travel clockwise around the main 5.65-mile loop. Note: more trails are opening soon, totaling over 14 miles. 


The climb is gentle, wide and relatively buff until you reach the creek (which you can typically ride over after spring snow melts have diminished). The downhill delivers with a flowy race to the bottom, interrupted by four rock gardens allowing riders to stop and take in the glory of this high mountain wilderness.

When you reach the bottom, bikers can take another lap, go across the highway and ride the gentle Beaver Creek trail, or pack up the rig and head to lunch at The Notch in nearby Samak (Kamas spelled backward). This local's favorite watering hole serves surprisingly good food and ice-cold refreshments for refueling after your ride. If the weather is gorgeous (and it usually is during summer), sit on the patio in the back and relax.

Dutch Hollow and Heirloom Market

The Dutch Hollow trail system is part of the Wasatch Mountain State Park in the Heber Valley, less than 15 minutes from Deer Valley. Although there is a $10 fee to use this state-maintained area, it’s worth it. Here, there are mountain bike trails for every rider and some of the most stunning views in Utah. 


Strong beginners and intermediate riders will enjoy riding up Dutchman Way, a smooth, gentle, curvy trail that gets you higher up the mountain without taxing your lungs too much. When it meets Dutch Hollow, turn downhill, ride about 100 feet, and catch Top Notch. If you’re concerned about more climbing, fear not. You’ll likely stop several times to take photographs of the spectacular Heber Valley below with views of Mount Timpanogos and Deer Creek Reservoir in front of you and wonder whether you’re in Utah or The Alps. (If you can sing, please, feel free to belt a few bars from The Sound of Music as you climb.)

Keep riding to catch Sage, a long flow trail that takes you back to the trailhead for a short (under 5-mile) jaunt, or opt for more mileage and views on Enchanted Forest, The New Boneyard, The Barrel and others. Although most lead you back to the beginning, check the maps conveniently posted throughout to ensure you know which direction you’re heading in this amazing maze of mountain biking.


From there, head to Heirloom Common & Market in picturesque Midway, an alpine-inspired town and home to the Homestead Crater, a great add-on if you packed your swimsuit with your bike shorts. Heirloom has two restaurants: a fashionable sit-down “common” with a foodie-friendly menu and an outdoor “market” with comfortable cushioned lounge furniture spreading into an open green with backyard-style games for hours of entertainment. Expect to stay a while. The Market serves delicious burgers, pizzas and salads and homemade chips. But, with a beautiful setting and a full tummy, that satisfying, post-ride malaise will set in quickly.

Bourbon Street Loop to High West

Round Valley, in the heart of Park City, has miles and miles of mountain bike trails. There is no wrong way to go, but if you take the wrong turn, you might have an extra climb or two to get back to the car. So, here is a detailed, intermediate loop that begins and ends at the North Round Valley Trailhead. This 8+-mile rolly-poly jaunt takes you halfway up Happy Gilmore, then Tin Man to the first “summit,” where you’ll turn on to Rambler. Follow Rambler to Rusty Shovel, the second “summit.” From there, enjoy the ride down to Ramble On, where you’ll turn left and quickly connect to Big Easy. Tip: Stop and play a few bars on the piano that was somehow (and for some unknown reason) deposited there. When Big Easy meets Bourbon Street, turn right, take your hand off the brake and ‘Let the Good Times Roll.’ Next, turn left on the paved Silver Quinns and then another left on Round Valley Express. About 100 yards up, you’ll turn right on RV Conn (Round Valley Connector) and race like a horse heading to the barn before feeding time.


Speaking of food…Although there is no shortage of pubs and restaurants in Park City, there are a couple of note when the grit and grime are thick on your knees. High West Saloon just off Historic Main Street, caters to carbon cowboys as well as fashionable foodies. Belly up to the bar and order a spiked lemonade to really quench that thirst, and order homemade pretzels, its famed deviled eggs, a cup of bison chili and save room for the chicken schnitzel. If you want something picnic-ready, pick up pastries and quiches at Windy Ridge Bakery and find a spot under any of the millions of trees around you to relax. Like Round Valley, you can’t go wrong either way. Tip: Bring a hammock! 

Holy Roller to Royal Street

Deer Valley Resort has become a summer destination with its early entry into lift-served mountain biking. Downhill-only trails such as Tsunami, Tidal Wave, and Holy Roller have become synonymous with the sport. Regardless of experience, it is recommended that first-timers to Deer Valley start small with the easier, green trails and work their way up in difficulty. “Deer Valley ski runs” are much different from the “Deer Valley flow trails” (if you know, you know). With “biker bros” arriving in their full-face helmets and pads, even experienced riders may be a bit intimidated at first. 


Here’s another suggestion: The cross-country trails up, down and around the base are, by any standard, exceptional. If you’re staying at the Montage Deer Valley or nearby, jump on the MidMountainTrail before 9 a.m. when the sun is just rising from behind the Uintas and most vacationers are still enjoying their coffee. Head left on Mid Mountain and bounce along the 8,000-foot line through aspen trees and conifers. Turn onto Team Big Bear. Some will question whether this bit-of-a-grind is worth it…Have faith. Take a break at the cabin along the way, and enjoy some water and a snack. This is the worst part. At Ontario Loop, make a choice – either direction will take you to Flagstaff Loop, where again, you can choose either direction to Deer Camp Road. Turn left and head to almost the top of Holy Roller. If you’ve timed it right, the lifts haven’t opened yet, and you can have the downhill flow trail to yourself (Note: there's no fee to ride downhill). Admittedly, the cardio on this ride is intermediate to upper-intermediate, but you’ll have that badge of honor of climbing Deer Valley and will be ready to brag to everyone at brunch below.

Two suggestions…make a reservation in advance at Glitretind at Stein Eriksen Lodge, an award-winning restaurant conceived and prepared by Chef (and mountain biker) Zane Holmquist. Tip: Throw an extra shirt into your pack to change into after your ride. If something a bit more “Deer Valley casual” sounds good, then walk into the Royal Street Cafe for creative appetizers, delicious sandwiches, and, of course, the resort’s famed turkey chili. Heck yeah, order dessert, too!

Mountain bike rental and guides

Rental bikes can be easily found throughout the Park City area, including White Pine Touring, Deer Valley Resort and Cole Sport, White Pine also provides guided tours throughout the area. Please note that reservations often book quickly around the holidays.