Is The Crest good to go? No. It’s not even close. It’s still spring, and there are meters of snow remaining on sections of that trail. But don’t worry! It turns out Utah has thousands of miles of impeccable non-Crest singletrack that dries out a lot earlier than that famed route up on the ridgeline.
“Where can one find these non-Crest trails?” you might be asking. All over the place. It’s all about aspect and elevation this time of year. Generally, lower elevation trails facing south or west are warmer and get more sun, meaning they’ll dry out more quickly. “Are non-Crest trails even worth riding?” you may wonder. Absolutely. From swooping ribbons of mellow singletrack to steep and technical downhills, there’s a huge variety of riding ready for knobby tires as the snow begins to melt. Here are our favorite spring mountain bike trails in Utah.
Switchbacks, baby! This portion of the Phosphate trail climbs the western slope of Phosphate Hill from the parking area at Wasatch Mountain State Park in Midway. The trail wraps around the mountain for a fun loop, but early in the spring the west-facing portion dries out much more quickly and makes for a wicked climb of about 1,000 feet up 57 old-school switchbacks (including Lower Phosphate). From there, turn around and work on your early-season cornering down the same way you came up, and finish with a lap down the Hot Dogger flow trail at the bottom if it’s open. It is usually dry by late March or early April.
This mellow loop is usually one of the first to get ridden each spring in Park City. Start at the Spring Creek Trailhead and ride a counter-clockwise loop up the Stealth, connecting to Glenwild where it crosses the road, and rejoining Stealth to complete the loop once you hit the doubletrack. The loop is around 5.5 miles with a relatively rocky surface that drains water well except for a single shady, north-facing patch just before a tricky section that gets even trickier with slick tires. The added spur to climb to the radio tower is a nice little punch to get the lungs and legs going before a fast, rocky downhill stretch into buff singletrack. It is usually dry by early April.
No longer must your first ride of the year be the venerable Bobsled trail. I love bobsled as much as the next person, but sometimes it’s a big ask right out of the gate to grind up Dry Gulch and drop into steep twisting downhill trail that often has a springtime creek running down the center. 19th Avenue is a super flowy intermediate trail descending 3.5 miles from the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST) to the BST Valley View trail just above the I-Street Jumps. An easy, early-season way to ride this trail is to park at the Terrace Hills parking area and spin up BST Terrace and Valley View to the beginning of the trail. From there, pump, jump and flow down 19th Avenue to the bottom, hit a few jumps at I-Street if so inclined and ride a short road section along 18th Avenue and up Terrace Hills back to the car. This is usually dry by late March.
This ride combines one of the newer (Rattler) and one of the first (Ghost Falls) mountain bike trails built in the famous Corner Canyon riding area, and it makes for an outstanding spring mountain bike ride. Start at the Carolina Hills parking area, head up the double track and take a left on the BST for a short stint and a right up Rattler. Climb up smooth singletrack, and trail conditions permitting, take a left on Ghost Falls to the pavilion at the top. Turn around head back the way you came, starting on classic old-school singletrack on Ghost Falls where flow is tight precision is rewarded before the rolling dirt ribbon of Rattler. This area is usually dry by late March (Rattler) or late April (Ghost Falls).
Pipeline is an extremely popular trail in Millcreek Canyon and for good reason. It’s super close to SLC, it’s fast and it has great views. The trail is bi-directional, but I recommend helping alleviate trail traffic by spinning up the Millcreek Canyon road from the Millcreek Pipeline parking area at the bottom of Rattlesnake Gulch and only riding down Pipeline. A steady climb up past Porter Fork brings riders to the Mill Creek Elbow to access Pipeline. Put the power down for some speed along scenic singletrack with the occasional rocky challenge, and be sure to take in the views when the forest opens up. Finish with a rowdy steep descent down Rattlesnake Gulch back to the parking area. Be sure to yield to uphill traffic. This is usually dry by late March. More on proper trail etiquette can be found here.
Some riders eschew the intermediate trail rides and get right to getting rowdy. These are early-season appropriate downhill trails for spring in Utah. Bobsled hardly needs an introduction, but the classic from the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (BST) down to the Avenues sees regular work with new lines opening up each year. Fear not, the famed car jumps and creek gaps remain, as does the steep, twisting entrance line. Start at Popperton Park and ride up Dry Gulch to the start of the trail. Head East on 11th Avenue back to your car. This is usually dry by late March.
Maple Hollow DH (Lower) has several sections, but the classic lower portion dries out first and received recent refurbishing with some new jumps and berms. There are a few ways to access the Maple Hollow DH, the easiest being from the Oak Hollow Trailhead, up Oak Hollow and Anns (West) singletrack to the intersection with the downhill trail. The lower section is usually dry by early-to-mid-April.
All the trails we’ve talked about are within striking distance of Salt Lake City, but you’ve probably heard there’s some pretty good desert riding in Utah. There’s Moab (a mountain biking mecca for riders from around the globe), Virgin (home to Red Bull Rampage), Vernal (a quick-hit desert escape) and more with perfect temps and riding conditions every spring. Volumes have been written about these destinations, so look them up and head out to the sandstone when you have a long weekend this spring.