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  1. #1
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    Salt Lake - Park City area

    I've done quite a bit of research but wanted to get some opinions from more reliable sources. Might possibly be moving out to the area in 6 months or so and coming from the upstate NY area.

    I realize there are temperature differences between Salt Lake and Park city but for the general area with a regular (non-fat bike) mtb what is the "season" or months that I should expect to be able to ride on the trails.

    I'm sure the trails that go way up in the mountains might not be accessible until later in spring so are there still a lot of trail options when there is snow in the mtns? It seems like there is a great riding scene in the area but wanted to get a better impression of it from people on here.

    I also do some road riding to get miles in, mix things up, or when the trails are muddy/wet. I live in a small area now and everywhere around me there are a ton of different back roads (paved) with nice scenery and very little traffic. Obviously in Salt lake this might not be as easy to find, how about Park city? In Salt lake it appears as if there are quite a few bike routes that could be used for getting miles in?

    Just looking for any general information that people might be able to provide me with. I really appreciate it
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  2. #2
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    The short answer is "it varies year to year". I was riding trails near SLC up to the first week of December, but it got cold and snowed around Xmas, and no trails have been free of snow since then. It was below freezing in SLC for almost the entire month of January, and this past week's snowstorms have dumped more than a foot on the valley floor. Some years, it barely snows at all in the valleys and foothills.

    Spring melt is hard to predict. It can get warm in February and melt off everything up to 6,000 feet by late March, or it can stay cold and rainy until May or June. Last year, the Wasatch Crest trail opened in mid June. It tops out at 9,990. A few years earlier, people were still skiing on the 4th of July at the higher elevations.

    Usually, you can get out on some trails by March, in the lower elevations. By July, everything should be clear and it can be too hot to ride in the valleys. August, September, October are perfect around Park City. After that, it's hit or miss.
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  3. #3
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    Thanks a lot for the information. Pretty much what I was inferencing based on all of the information I have looked at. Nice to have someone kind of confirm what I was thinking though.

    From what I can tell online it seems like the overall bike culture in the area is really good - similar or at least as cool as the Denver - Boulder - Fort Collins area. Are there a lot of different people doing group rides all over the place and things like that? I don't have that at all where I live and of the reasons I was originally attracted to the Boulder area. Thanks!
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  4. #4
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    I'm not too familiar with group rides for mountain bikes. I almost always ride solo. You might want to follow the forums at UtahMountainBiking.com It seems like people organize group rides there more frequently than here. If you're looking for road rides, there is a Facebook group, SaltCycle, they seem to be active with a few weekly group rides. They don't discriminate against MTBs, and there is some crossover. You could also check for groups, clubs, and local shops here: Cycling Utah Magazine Some of the local shops organize group rides.

    You should be able to get a sense of the bike culture here from those links. I always see other bikers out on the trails. You shouldn't have much trouble finding people to ride with.
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  5. #5
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    Thanks for the links and I really appreciate the information. I'm not a huge road biker - only bought my first one last june but allows me to ride more when trails aren't an option. I've also looked at the "Skidmap" of the local trails, seen the same map on other sites called something else but basically the interactive map showing the rides in and around the Utah area. Looks like a sh!tload of options which is what I was hoping for. I xc ski in the winter and looks like a lot of miles and options for that too.

    I'm thinking for a 1 year lease on an a place the Summit Park area might be my best bet for what I'm looking for. Close to Park City and SLC and then I'm not "stuck" in one place and I can get a better perspective where I would like to stay long-term in the future, if I want.

    Thanks again for the information, sounds like mtbr forums might not be too visited by mtb riders in the SLC area so I'll check those links out.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post
    I'm thinking for a 1 year lease on an a place the Summit Park area might be my best bet for what I'm looking for.
    Summit Park is great. But If you don't have 4WD then you'll need to consider how you might access your place of residence in the winter. As soon as you turn off of Aspen Dr. and start to head up, it can be a real challenge to make it up to the Matterhorn Dr. level without 4WD and/or chains. Given the 'Park's north-facing aspect and wooded nature, the roads take and hold snow/ice efficiently, even when other roads are clear.

    There's a nice little trail system at the "top" of Summit Park, built and maintained by Basin Rec ("Road to WOS", "Short Ribs", "Short Stack", etc). It makes for a quick, fun little before or after work ride. This year it might not melt off until the middle of June, though, if it stays chilly in the spring. Never can be too sure....

    Good luck in the move. Bring your respirator along for next winter, if you're working in the valley....

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post
    From what I can tell online it seems like the overall bike culture in the area is really good - similar or at least as cool as the Denver - Boulder - Fort Collins area. Are there a lot of different people doing group rides all over the place and things like that? I don't have that at all where I live and of the reasons I was originally attracted to the Boulder area. Thanks!
    I've lived in Boulder for a bit. There isn't as much of an 'in your face' bike culture in SLC; cycling is kind of Boulder's "thing." Which is a good thing for SLC IMO -- the trails out there were pretty crowded, and the masses of people out for road rides on the weekend became annoying to deal with (unless you were riding, of course). But there is more than enough people into the sport here that you can find what you want here, of that I am confident.

    Honestly, I don't think any other million + city holds a candle to the riding available in SLC. Most of the great riding near Boulder or up in the mountains West of Denver is at least an hour away. Portland and Seattle (other cities I've lived in or spent a lot of time in) require a good 60-90 minute drive to get to the trails. I have everything I want, from fun after work loops to lift-accessed riding to the remarkable 26 mile (mostly) downhill of Wasatch Crest within about 30 minutes of my door.

    As far as riding season, there is usually stuff to ride from March to November in the Wasatch foothills. Even this winter, which has been quite snowy, I was riding up until the last week of November. The lower elevation stuff in Park City (Glenwild, Round Valley) isn't much later to open up.
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  8. #8
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    Not to say the Catskill mtns in NY are comparable to the mtns in Utah but I've been driving in snow storms my whole life. We have a Subaru and always have winter tires for part of the year so I think we'll be good. Good to know though that that area might be a little trickier in the winter than other areas, definitely something to consider when weighing all the options.

    Tystevens - I've gotten the same impression from all the research I've done, so it's good to have the info confirmed from someone who knows. Really wanted to be on the Front Range and was originally kind of pretending that I wouldn't be bothered by the traffic, amount of people on the trails, and realizing that riding wasn't "out your door" unless you were in a real lucky area. Which I don't have the $ for.

    The weather where I'm at in upstate NY looks almost identical to a mix of SLC and Park City, except for the snow sticking around in the peaks. I love riding but it's nice to have a little break from it at times and get out for some xc skiing. I don't do the snow/lift winter thing, although with all the powder I might have to adopt a new hobby - or take up backcountry skiing.

    Thanks everyone for the replies. I can already tell from the hours I've spent looking at different sites and maps that there will not be a lack of riding available. I also love the fact that there is a "fall" time of the year where on the Front Range it's my understanding there really isn't. The only thing I will miss about upstate NY is the fall and apparently that won't be an issue.
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  9. #9
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    trail system at the "top" of Summit Park, built and maintained by Basin Rec ("Road to WOS", "Short Ribs", "Short Stack", etc).

    Just to clarify: The Summit Park trail system was built by Alpine Trails, Inc., NOT by Basin Rec. It is "maintained," however, by Basin Rec.

  10. #10
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    Having both Fingerlake and Utah living experiences personally - you'll love it out here. Do note, however, Parley's as a daily commute for work may not be the best option - you may want to have that drive as the path to playing unless working in the PC area, winter's not that reliable for clear roads as the semi's etc make for some snarled days.

    Good luck and Welcome!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by qdawgg View Post

    The only thing I will miss about upstate NY is the fall and apparently that won't be an issue.
    Shouldn't be an issue in UT, fall in Park City is amazing.

    Another alternative to Summit Park is Pinebrook. Pinebrook neighbors Summit Park, but is lower, has less steep roads, and melts off sooner in the spring. Of course in either neighborhood, you need to go over Parley's summit to get to SLC, but hundreds of people do it every day no matter what the weather does.

    Good luck on your move!

  12. #12
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    Biking season with some road riding to avoid trails when wet is usually March to Nov. Def varies season to season. Last year I was riding the shoreline trail in slc on Jan 1. Thats unusual but there are almost always good riding days march-Nov.
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  13. #13
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    Thanks everyone for the information, I really appreciate it. My wife is coming out in April to do some scouting and check how the market is for RN's.

    I can't stop checking out the skidmap site, makes my mouth water seeing all of the trail options and the fact that there are so many within potential living options is awesome.

    Where I am in upstate NY, the riding season sounds identical to the SLC - PC area. Every year is a little different but typically you can get out sometime in April and go until in the very least October and usually into Nov sometime.
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  14. #14
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    Do you ski? If not I would suggest learning....the skiing scene is much bigger along the Wasatch than the biking scene IMO. And the skiing is the best it gets in Utah.

    As others have said Boulder doesn't really have any mountain biking from town. I have lived in the Salt Lake area for a decade and now Golden, CO. Way longer biking season on the Colorado front range....we have been riding pretty much everything from Pueblo up to Fort Collins all winter.....been really mild here this winter. It is pretty common to ride dry dirt 10 to 11 months a year here. Park City is going to be 4 to 5 months....SLC a little longer, but the riding down there is pretty limited overall. The BCC ridgeline and Park City is where the bulk of the riding is....so overall pretty short biking season.

  15. #15
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    There's the saying : "There's no bad biking weather, just bad biking clothing". However, when I see guys riding their road bikes on the shoulder when there is 2 feet of snow piled up alongside the road in the Park City area, I think to myself - "wrong tool for the job".
    There are great winter tools here for you to get what you're looking for: Downhill sliding for the adrenalin rush and cross country skiing or backcountry touring for the cardio need. From Summit Park area you are within 45 minutes of 7 world class ski resorts and within 15 minutes of about 50k in groomed skate and classic ski track.

    And 5 hours from St. George, which has mountain biking all year round. We rented a house in St. George over New Years. It was chillier than usual, but still very rideable at 40 degrees and dry.

    Regardless of the details of your outdoors options, you'll love it here.

  16. #16
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    Having just moved from the front range (Boulder) to SLC this summer, I can perhaps provide a newcomer's perspective.

    -This winter is unbelievably depressing/sucky if you live in the valley. I have never felt like a prisoner in my own home before but the inversion temps and air quality (lack thereof, to be more accurate) have us pining for the much milder (at least this year) weather in CO. This is apparently a *really* bad year, but it's worth remembering that the population is growing fast so I imagine bad years will eventually become the norm unless we start running everything on fusion power.

    -We have started getting into skiing. If you don't like winter sports at all I don't think you'd be happy here. It's (at least this year) too cold and wet/smoggy to even really do road rides most of the time, let alone mountain biking. So you gotta like the snow.

    -It's much cheaper than CO. Park City housing is roughly the same price as Boulder, SLC is much cheaper. We were astounded by how cheap it is to live here.

    -If you're in the university area or near downtown, you can ride your bike to get around/get groceries pretty easily, but it's nothing like the dedicated bike path/lane network in CO.

    -The riding in SLC is better "out the door" than in Boulder, but not as good as Ft. Collins or Golden, probably. Comparatively there is NOBODY on the trails which is pretty awesome. I often do a 90 minute ride on singletrack, never further than about 5 miles from downtown, and don't see a single person. Park City is great and has an amazing variety of riding but a shorter season (though this year I think Flying Dog might be dry before Shoreline!)

    -There is more riding than most people think in the SLC area. BST has a lot of significant side trails that most folks don't ride, and there are some cool semi-new loops up towards Bountiful (north of the City Creek section of BST) that are easily within striking distance without getting in the car. If you have a willingness to explore a little and get out of the Dry Creek/Bobsled rut, you can find a lot to do. I would say there are 4 or 5 distinct "rides" that I do on a regular basis ranging in length from 45 minutes to 3 hours that do not require any driving and minimal riding on pavement.

    The air quality would probably be a deal killer for us but we're going to try just getting out of town for 5 or 6 weeks next year during January/February to see if we can avoid the worst of the inversion. If that doesn't work, we'll either move to PC or just bail on the whole idea of living in UT. When you walk out your door and it smells like a truck is idling... that's not good.

    -Walt
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  17. #17
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    Walt - good info because for a couple of years I had been looking at Fort Collins specifically, knowing I couldn't afford Boulder. After a lot of research about Fort Collins I was sort of led to believe the following, so maybe you could correct me if this is wrong.

    I know there are a lot of trails in FC but people kept telling me it isn't really, "right out the door" riding. Living closer to the western part of FC which would put me closer to trails would be more expensive and harder to find living arrangements. Also the trails are very crowded with people and seem to get more and more crowded every year and not with just bikers but all sorts of people. A lot of the questions I had in different CO forums I got a lot of negative feedback about almost everything. So it was hard to tell if people were trying to discourage me/people from moving there, I could never figure out if I was getting the whole accurate story. Maybe you can provide some insight.

    Everyone that's answered my questions about Utah have been very straight forward and honest. Where I live in upstate NY we get a little less snow than Park City but our avg temps are colder in each month from late fall --> early spring and with significantly much less sun. I also like to xc ski and it helps to keep me from getting bored from just biking. So the winter will feel very normal for me and might actually be more enjoyable since it will be at least sunny more and a tiny bit warmer. Today is a great example of what I'm used to, work is cancelled because a storm is about to drop 1.5 - 2.5 feet of snow on us in less than a 24 hr period. No big deal, it happens multiple times per year. Last year the snow was very sporadic and the shoulders of the road were pretty dry so I was road riding 1 - 2 times per week, I did one road ride with the wind chill below zero. Typically though, if temps are 20 - 30 and sunny I'll ride the road.

    The only problem road riding in Utah in the winter is if the shoulders of the roads aren't kept that clear. Any input if that might be an issue?

    The plan is to live in Park City first despite the higher rents, we have a friend who lives there right now. When the trails are accessible, doesn't Park City have more out the door riding than Fort Collins? It seems that there are more trails, less traffic, and also more access to longer rides without having to drive an hour to get to the trailheads.

    Walt - thanks for the help/info.
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  18. #18
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    Oh, there is way more riding in Park City than any of the locations we're talking about, and you pretty much never need to drive. Some of the trails will be pretty crowded (ie Armstrong/Midmountain area stuff) on the weekends in the summer/fall. And the season is really not that short if you include Jeremy Ranch and Round Valley because I think that stuff dries out at least a month or two earlier than the Crest trails, and stays dry a month or two longer most years. There was pretty minimal snow at Jeremy Ranch when we were hiking there just last week.

    Park City is awesome. If my wife did not work at the U, we would live there for sure. As it is we might move up there anyway because no amount of cheap housing is worth not being able to take your kids outside to play.

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  19. #19
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    Thanks again. We want to try to live in Park City, realizing it will be more expensive for less space and are willing to downsize our way of life. I'm living in an area with a ton of state forest but with only 2 trails within 15 - 20 mins from my house. One of those trails I only rode a few times 2 years ago because it never dried out, the soil is terrible and holds water like crazy. 20 mins drive isn't a big deal but within a couple months I'm bored to death, the one trail is awesome but the whole loop is just short of 4 miles and can be done in about 35 mins or so. Every other trail option is a minimum of a 45 mins drive, even with more options an hour away there are only 3 trails that I really like enough to take the time to ride them.

    I've never been a roadie but broke down and purchased one last year just to do something different and get miles/time on the bike. So the idea of having such a large amount of trail riding available, literally right out the door is incredibly appealing, even if it's only 4 months out of the year or a little more. Even if there was 2 - 3 trails in the area rideable early spring and late fall, it would still be a huge upgrade over the options that I have available to me.

    I started mtb'ing in 7th grade (early 90's), couldn't bring my bike to college and then worked in a job for 8 years where I had no life. So about 5 years ago I finally had a job where I could at least ride a few times a week. I'm only going to live once and I love to bike so I'm realizing it's stupid to stay in an area where biking is very limited. So that is the "drive" to live in an area like Park City and other than cost of renting it seems like the right place.
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  20. #20
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    Dude, you will be in heaven if you move ANYWHERE in Utah. Even in SLC itself there is at least 30 miles of ST you can access from downtown without driving.

    Drop me a line when you get here, I live right by the BST and I know all the worst hike-a-bike slog variations when you get bored of the good stuff.

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  21. #21
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    Walt,

    My bride to be was recently accepted to Utah, in their English Composition MA/PhD program.

    When you and your wife were looking for housing, what resources did you utilize? How would you compare quality of life to Boulder? She's in Fort Collins right now, for reference. Any distinct pros and cons of your living situation now? Is there quality, fresh, organic or locally grown food available?

    -Andy

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    If anything I write here doesn't make sense, it's because I'm fighting off the worst stomach bug I've ever had and I've been puking so much I'm 10# underweight. I'll sip pedialyte between sentences...

    We used a local real estate guy named Paz Ortiz. He is awesome - super down to earth, not interested in selling you on something you don't want, and a super good mountain biker as well. Paz busted his ass to find us what we wanted (which was as close as possible to the U for Sarah to commute by bike). If you are looking for rental housing you should get in touch with the department she will be working in and see if they have a housing finders/assistance program of some kind. There are a lot of decent rentals for <$1000 right near the U in the lower parts of Avenues.

    I could go on and on, but make it your goal to be as far east and north as you can. The University has some great concerts and events that we can walk to, and downtown is a 5 minute bike ride away.

    There are several hippy-drippy grocery stores to choose from - Smiths has some organic stuff, Sprouts has a lot, and of course there is Whole Foods in Trolley Square. Harmons (downtown) is also quite good.

    In the spring/summer/fall, there is a great farmer's market (it is HUGE) downtown. I like to go buy giant boxes of blem/overripe tomatoes and make fresh salsa. There is also a smaller offshoot of the FM up at the campus on Wednesdays, I think, but it's more aimed at selling hemp dresses to undergrads.

    A lot of people like to live in Sugarhouse because it's a little cheaper but it will put you considerably farther from out-the-door rides.

    -Walt

    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Walt,

    My bride to be was recently accepted to Utah, in their English Composition MA/PhD program.

    When you and your wife were looking for housing, what resources did you utilize? How would you compare quality of life to Boulder? She's in Fort Collins right now, for reference. Any distinct pros and cons of your living situation now? Is there quality, fresh, organic or locally grown food available?

    -Andy
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  23. #23
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    It would be really cool to live within easy biking distance to where you go to school or work. If that isn't an option, we do have a decent and evolving transit system. From many places in the valley you can catch either the Frontrunner train or Trax and it'll get you right to the U in a short(ish) amount of time. Do you have any kids? If so, I wouldn't want to live right up around the U. Not many places to get out and play compared to other nearby areas. Not bad by any means though if that's what you really want.

    I see you are (were?) in the Army. If you are interested I could give you the low down on the units in the area.
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  24. #24
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    Nope, no kids. Currently deployed, so unfortunately, she's doing the school visits by herself. We'd love to live outside of town a ways, but don't know how feasible that is in SLC. I've only driven through Utah on I-84, and every time I did was at zero dark thirty.

    We both commute by bike when possible, and I don't mind a bit of a ride into work. She rides 20 minutes to work in Denver traffic, year round. Or drives from her parent's house in Fort Collins, an hour away, if she's been up there the weekend prior.
    Last edited by Le Duke; 03-04-2013 at 09:54 AM.

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