Fall has hit in Park City, Utah and the snow will soon fall and cover the network of trails. But before it does, I want to share some gems with y’all.
For the video version click HERE.
Imagine this: 2.75 miles with 700’ of descent on a downhill only flow trail hidden in the pines and aspen on the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort.
Good news, you don’t have to imagine. That’s where we are headed today. On top of this being an absolute hoot of a trail, it's also peak fall leaf changing season, and the views are spectacular. We are in for a real treat.
Cyn City is one of the newer trails on the mountain. It was completed in July 2022 to honor a long time resident and lover of mountain biking, Cyndi Schwandt, who died doing what she loved best - mountain biking. Thanks to her family and the Mountain Trails Foundation for coming up with the funds and putting together the crew that made this trail possible. There was a huge amount of thought, care and work that went into making this a kickass ride. What a cool way to remember someone.
Ok, ok, so let’s get to it already. I mentioned that it was early October and Park City has a whole bunch of aspen trees that are quick to turn their leaves from green to intense yellows, golds and many other colors.
The window to experience these higher elevation trails is short, so we are going to take this opportunity to explore both the Cyn City trail and the upper trails that lead to the peaks of the ridges that will give us some of the most spectacular views.
The first area is the south end of the Wasatch Crest trail where Puke Hill intersects with Pinecone. This has to be of of the best views of Park City on one side and Big Cottonwood Canyon on the other side of the ridge, and with all the fall colors it should be awesome.
And if that view wasn’t enough, we are going to go for another lap. For round two, we'll be taking a different route up reaching the top via Corvair and meeting up with the Church of Dirt. This time we get views of the backside of Big Cottonwood and Park City looking across Midway and Heber.
Truth time: I never meant to ride up and down twice. The first version of this story was meant to showcase the first leg of this journey and be the first story in the Epic Rides in Utah Series.
But to my dismay, after riding just shy of 27 miles with over 4,000’ of climbing and recording the whole thing on video, I realized that I had the GoPro angled too low and captured hours of the most amazing views of my knees and not much else. I was so bummed.
So what do you do? Get back out the next day and do it again. I honestly didn’t have it in me physically or have the time to do the exact same ride again, so I took a slightly different way up in the hopes of getting more usable footage this time.
To my surprise, the route I thought would be short and quick still ended up being almost 18.5 miles with 2800+’ of climbing. Oh well. I got to capture some amazing views this time and I get to share the great new trail Cyn City with y’all instead of my knees and the ground whizzing by.
Let’s get back to business. Route one (shown above) starts out at the PCMR lower parking lot. We take Lowell Ave up to the Ol' Miner Statue, then hop on the gravel road and make a quick left to connect to Treasure Hill and Mother Urban where the climbing begins.
Right away, we get some great views of Park City Main Street (below).
As we continue to make our way up the mountain, about four miles into the ride we are greeted by a stunning view of the hillside with fall colors blazing.
As Mother Urban ends, we hook up with Mid-Mountain and ride for about five miles to hook up with Pinecone at 8,400’ and 10 miles into the ride.
Quick status update on the ride: So far we have ridden 10 miles and climbed about 1,500’. Pinecone is the next section of trail and we'll climb over 1,400' more feet in just 4 miles. I think it’s fair to say Pinecone is a bit of a grind.
This is one of those climbs for me that really tests me. I’m not talking about physical. I’m talking about mental toughness. By this point in the ride you're already at 8,400’ after riding for 10 miles, and now you’re about to climb to almost 10,000' over the next four miles.
I was physically tired when I started this section. You just have to lock in, accept the burning legs and sore joints, and just keep going, saying to yourself “You can do this!” and “Just keep pedaling!” I choose early on that I wouldn’t quit pedaling until I got to the top no matter how tired I was. To accomplish this, I have to bring out my inner demon and just go for it no matter what your body and mind are saying.
After 50 minutes of riding through hell, you all of the sudden arrive in heaven. Pinecone opens up and you’re greeted by one of the most amazing views. It’s absolutely spectacular. On one side you can see the entire Park City Valley and on the other is the upper part of Big Cottonwood Canyon. What a place!
Pic, pic, snack, snack, pack up and go. No time to waste as Cyn City is waiting for us. We head down the notorious Puke Hill - thank goodness we aren’t going up this time. You quickly find yourselves at the intersection of Blazing Saddle and Scott’s Bypass. We head down Blazing Saddle till we reach 9k.
You think after 3k of almost straight up climbing you would get an immediate pay off and bomb all the way back to the bottom. Well, not really. Over the next six miles on 9k and finally Black Forest we descend only 600’ before we finally reach our destination.
But don’t worry. It will be worth it.
So finally after 20 miles we reach the entrance for Cyn City. Cyn City is almost 3 miles of totally awesome goodness. If fast flowy goodness is your thing, and it should be, you’re in luck. Depending on your skill level and your physical freshness, you could complete the course in about 7 mins. Being tired and a bit sore, I did it in 10 mins. I thought I was going at a pretty good pace, so 7 mins is super fast.
On the first lap I averaged just about 9 mph and maxed out at 21.
To take us the rest of the way, we hook back up with Mid-Mountain for a bit until we reach Empire Link. From there we are a short popover to Daly Bypass to Main Street and back to the car.
Totals for Lap 1:
- 26.95 miles
- 4,058’ elevation
Should we talk about lap 2? I'm not an athlete, and no i don’t love pain. Sometimes circumstances just push you towards a path you didn’t originally bargain for.
So up we go. Again. This time we buzz up Treasure hill to Mother Urban again, same as the day before. But this time we take Mid-Mountain to Corvair to reach the top.
Funny thing about Corvair, it’s labeled as a green trail (supposed to be easy). I should have listened to the old guys I met at the Mid-Mountain intersection that said, “Corvair is a pain in the butt going up. Follow us up to Tour de Suds - it’s way easier." But nope, I didn’t listen.
I’m going to blame my tired legs from the previous days riding, but that green trail felt like a quadruple black, an almost vertical wall and one of the more unpleasant uphill sections of trail.
Corvair was about 3 miles long in total with about 870 feet of elevation gain. But man was it a pain in the butt.
There must be something about tough climbs giving back a reward at the end because at the end of Corvair was one of the coolest views. The Church of Dirt is waiting at the top along with views across Midway Valley to the backside of Big Cottonwood Canyon. The fall leaves were exploding with color. I stood on top of one of the benches and spun a few 360s, taking in gorgeous views of both valleys, Park City on one side and Midway on the other.
The start of 9k is about 100 yards from the church. I had a funny thought when I started pedalling on 9k. “I bet they call this trail 9k because it’s at 9,000 feet of elevation.” Boom. Genius. Solved it!
Did I mention I was tired?
9k doesn’t disappoint. The views are incredible and you can see for miles. And this time the trip to Cyn City is much faster, just a little over a mile.
Cyn City was a blast and I increased my speed a little bit.Top speed was 22 with an average of 13 cutting off over a minute of time from the previous day.
Totals for Lap 2:
- 18.48 miles
- 2,873’ of elevation gain
- Very tired legs
Let me wrap this dang thing up already. Cyn City is a blast and if you don’t want to pedal up like I did, you can buy a lift ticket that will get you most of the way there, or have a buddy drop you off at the top.
The window to catch the changing leaves is super short, maybe a week or so at most. So the urgency was justified with how beautiful the views were.
The trails in Park City are incredible. Not only are they free, they’re fun and take you to some truly beautiful places.
They say exercise is good for you and makes you healthy. So good news, I’m now super healthy. Now who’s got the cookies?
Thanks for making it to the end. If you’re had a chance to create any epic rides in Park City that brought you to Cyn City, leave a comment below. I would love to hear about it. Or better yet, share your Strava.
You can find mine here: My Strava
And view all sorts of other goodies here:
That’s all for now,
Thanks and adios!