That little blue square is the goldilocks of trail designations. It’s a beacon to all types of riders, promising those just right conditions that cater to ambitious newbies, weekend warriors and experienced shredders alike. With a little bit of everything from berms, whoops, rollers and tabletops to roots, rocks, switchbacks and skinnies, intermediate trails offer opportunities for progression and flat out, two-wheeled fun without requiring Evel Knievelian levels of boldness.
Some of Utah’s intermediate trails embody ultra-smooth new-school flow, while others feature tight, old-school tech. Some are quick laps you can spin after work and some are epics in high alpine terrain. This is a roundup of the best intermediate mountain bike trails in the Wasatch.
The Flying Dog Loop in Park City is a must do for anyone looking to crank through the varied landscapes and terrain Utah mountain biking is famous for. The trail starts with a moderate climb up alpine desert scrub before winding through aspen forest. The trail features classic, fast XC terrain, dipping and diving through the trees on mostly smooth terrain with a few roots and rocks thrown in to keep things interesting. The traditional loop is 16.9 miles with nearly 2,000 feet of elevation gain, but there are numerous route options that can cut out a bit of distance or add in some new-school flow at the end with Ant Farm or The Drop Out.
Get ready to log some airtime. Tidal Wave is a machine-built flow trail with a seemingly endless line of tabletop jumps from top to bottom. Built at Deer Valley Resort by the famed Gravity Logic crew, the trail is smooth and speed is easy to come by. The jumps vary in size, but they’re all relatively forgiving and easy to hit with comfortable trail speed. Tidal Wave is downhill only and is part of the Deer Valley Bike Park, but it’s also accessible to climbers who want to earn their turns via Ontario Canyon or the Flagstaff Loop to Deer Camp Road.
If Tidal Wave is the ultimate intermediate jump trail, Undertow is its counterpart when it comes to berm turns. Also located at Deer Valley Resort, Undertow’s steep berms let riders pull serious g-forces and generate some impossibly horizontal lean angles as they flow downhill amid aspen trees. Newer riders can level up their berm-riding skills, learning to brake early and get off the stoppers through the turns, while experts can challenge themselves to pump and flow through the rollers and turns while testing the limits of their tires’ traction. Undertow is easy pickings for lift riders, but it can also be accessed under pedal power via a moderate climb up Deer Crest.
What about those looking to roughen things up with some roots and rocks in their lives? This is mountain biking after all! Flat Cable and Johns trails are wonderful introductions to old-school tech for intermediate riders. The two trails form a great out and back straight from the base of Park City Mountain in Historic Old Town. The climb winds up through shaded aspen and pine forest on uncommonly-loamy-for-Utah dirt. Wide, root-filled switchbacks on Flat Cable multiply and tighten as you ascend Johns. No move is particularly difficult in isolation, but keep them coming back to back and cleaning the climb becomes increasingly challenging. Take a rest and take in the view once you reach the top. Then head back the way you came, darting through twisting turns and linking root gaps together as you descend.
Sometimes it feels silly riding around in the foothills when in the shadow of majestic Wasatch peaks. Might as well grind up there on your mountain bike and see what they’re all about. Needles trail at Snowbasin Resort in Ogden winds from the base of the resort to the Needles Lodge just below Mount Ogden and De Moisey Peak. As the trail meanders through smooth mountain meadows into rocky alpine terrain, riders are treated to increasingly expansive views of the Pineview Reservoir. Needles is accessible via lift when the Snowbasin Bike Park is open, or for anyone with the legs to take it on. The climb is stout, but nothing that can’t be handled by well prepared and hydrated intermediates, and those who reach the top will get to experience full-on alpine environment and a long rewarding descent back to the bottom.
Ready to feel the rush? It’s in the name, so don’t overthink it. Rush trail is the intermediate attraction in Draper’s Corner Canyon trail system. The downhill-only trail has everything for intermediates to push their riding—tight berm turns, flat corners, rollers and whoops that can be pumped and jumped—all twisting down through idyllic aspen forest. Builders continue to add new trail connections to Rush with more features all the way down to the parking area, and there are numerous linkups and loops you can ride in Corner Canyon with Rush as the centerpiece.
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Home to the very best of the famed “Greatest Snow on Earth,” Little Cottonwood Canyon is hallowed ground for skiers and snowboarders. It’s also a pretty wonderful place to rip on your mountain bike when you’re feeling snow withdrawal during the warmer months. The Quarry Trail is a straightforward out and back that gets its name from the huge granite blocks used to construct the Salt Lake Temple. The trail features a mild grade while ascending nearly 1,200 feet up Little Cottonwood Canyon, and the descent is fast and smooth with a few techy rock gardens thrown in spicing things up. The scenery may be the biggest draw, as views of iconic Wasatch peaks come and go through the trees as you ride alongside the river.
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