||Mill Creek Reverse Crest Loop
This is a big loop of beautiful riding, reserved for strong conditioned
riders. It's 30.5 miles long with 4300 vertical feet of climbing. While
the description is for a "backwards" ride of the Wasatch Crest,
you can do the loop in the other direction.
View across Big Cottonwood Canyon from
the Wasatch Crest. The lake is Silver Lake between Solitude and Brighton.
Ride and photos July 12, 2012.
|First, go ride the Wasatch Crest in the usual (downhill,
south to north) direction. Then consider this loop. I've chosen to tackle
the Wasatch Crest backwards for this ride because it's interesting and it
gets most of the tough climbing out of the way early in the ride. I also
like the views better from this direction.
View uphill as we climb Mill Creek
Canyon. The forest is a mix of aspen and fir.
||You can enter the loop from other trailheads besides Mill
Creek. Note: Upper Mill Creek trails are open to bikes only on
For example, on the Salt Lake side there's Mill D North Fork, Guardsman
Road, and Guardsman Pass.
We're at the top of Mill Creek,
looking east over the area north of Park City.
|In Park City, you can climb to the Midmountain-Wasatch Crest
Loop via Rob's, Ambush, Holly's, Armstrong, Spiro, Crescent Mine Grade,
Sweeneys/Johns, Gravedigger/Johns99, Empire Link, Tour des Suds, Deer
Valley -- and a bunch of others I didn't think of.
We've reached the Wasatch Crest. This
view is looking south as we begin to see the mountains above the
||To start your ride in Mill Creek Canyon, consider parking in
Salt Lake (not in residential areas please) to pedal up the canyon. This
will add 2000 vertical feet of pavement climbing over 8 miles, and will
bring your ride to a hero 6300 vertical and 47.5 miles. Consider a
diversion onto the Mill Creek Pipeline trail on the way down.
There are several viewpoints as the
trail hugs the edge of the ridge. Between the two fir trees, there's
another viewpoint looking east over Park City.
|Assuming you don't plan to pedal the canyon, drive up to the
lower Big Water trailhead. There's paved parking at the upper trailhead
and overflow parking a bit down the road. There are bathrooms at both
We've reached the border between the
Mill Creek drainage (where dogs are allowed) and Big Cottonwood.
||At the lower trailhead, find the Big Water trail right in
the middle of the parking strip. Follow Big Water uphill, keeping straight
at the Dog Lake intersections. Further up the canyon, keep straight as Red
Pine Road Trail comes in on your left.
Looking up The Spine. You can probably
clean this. I failed several times.
|At the top of the ridge, veer to the right toward what looks
like old doubletrack. (On your right, the singletrack is the Crest
Connector. You'll be coming back via that trail. Stop now and take a look
if you like.)
Desolation Lake below The Spine.
||Climb steadily up the ridge. The slope will level out, and
suddenly there are beautiful views everywhere. There will be a couple of
view turnouts on your left. About mile 6, you'll hit a steep rocky
section. It's rideable (barely), but not if it's torn up and loose from
downhillers. This will introduce you to the most technical stretch of
trail, about 1/2 mile long.
Looking back at The Spine. The rider
is trying the left line where I tried to climb up, and is just about to
roll over the outcrop that stopped me.
|The trail now descends into a saddle where the Desolation
Lake (Mill D North Fork) trail joins on your right. Make your way up The
Spine. I tried to clean it uphill using the right-most line, but I
couldn't quite make it over one nasty outcrop.
Views, never ending. Looking west
toward the canyon mouth, we see a bit of the copper mine across the
||After The Spine, the trail undulates through meadows with
constant views of the peaks. Just before the radio towers, you'll also
have views into the Park City area. The trail will merge onto doubletrack.
Keep heading southeast.
Approaching another viewpoint.
Everything looks so fresh and new riding this direction!
|At mile 10, you'll arrive at the top of Puke Hill. The
doubletrack to the right drops down to Scott's Pass. That's the route that
put the Puke in Puke Hill. We won't go there. Take a break and cheer the
riders coming up from below.
Stopping to let a rider going the
"correct direction" come uphill.
||Now head straight (left) on to the singletrack left of the
ridgeline (see the photo below). That's Pinecone Ridge. It will connect
you directly to the Midmountain Trail.
We're at the top of Puke Hill looking
southeast toward Brighton.
This is the view looking east from the ridge top.
We'll head left to the singletrack of
||Descend 4 miles down Pinecone Ridge. Keep straight as you
join Midmountain. Follow Midmountain north about 2/3 mile.
Trail view as we fly down Pine Cone
Ridge. Watch your sight lines and yield to uphill riders.
|After a set of switchbacks, keep straight as Armstrong joins
on your right. Continue north, then west on Midmountain.
Midmountain looking north, just past
the intersection with Armstrong.
||After a short stretch on Midmountain, the next trail fork is
the Ironman Trail. Fork left on Ironman, leaving Midmountain temporarily.
Looking downhill at Kearns Blvd in
|Ironman climbs uphill on rocky steep sun-exposed slope.
There will be some occasional shade as you gain 200 vertical feet.
We're at the Ironman trail fork. Go
||The trail will skirt Iron Pass to the south, where you'll
have some views of gazillion-dollar homes going in at The Colony.
Trail view on Ironman after crossing
|After crossing the pass, you'll descend a bit and arrive at
another trail intersection. The signs here are confusing! First,
understand that no matter which way you go, you'll be going to the
Midmountain. But NONE of these trails ARE the Midmountain. So just ignore
any sign with "Midmountain" and an arrow.
Looking north at The Colony. We'll be
crossing that road below us in a few minutes.
||You have just ended Ironman. Straight ahead (right) is
Goldfinger going to Midmountain out at the point overlooking The Canyons.
The left fork takes you down the other half of Goldfinger through many
switchbacks, where you'll join Midmountain. OK, fork left.
Trail fork as lower Goldfinger joins
Midmountain, seen from Midmountain uphill. We're going straight on the
lower trail (where the bike leans against the tree).
|At the bottom of the switchbacks, turn left onto Midmountain.
(If you took a wrong turn and are already on Midmountain, keep straight
and downhill.) Descend on Midmountain to The Colony.
The trail will cross several creeks.
||Cross a couple of roads as you continue northbound on
Midmountain. When you reach The Canyons, keep straight on the uphill side
of the Red Pine Lodge and find the continuing Midmountain Trail on the
edge of the doubletrack near the DH trail.
|Continue north on Midmountain, passing the fishing pond. The
trail will enter a scrub area and continue climbing. When the trail hits a
ridgeline road, veer left on the road, then immediately find the trail on
your right. (The trail will also join a doubletrack road for about 1/4
mile for a climb, then exit on the right.)
From the Crest Connector, we're
looking back at the I-80 interchange to Park City.
||At mile 24.7, you'll come to a singletrack fork. Go left and
uphill on the Crest Connector. You've now left the Midmountain Trail. The
Crest Connector will climb up and over the ridge to join the top of Mill
On Crest Connector, we've crossed the first ridge. The second ridge holds the Wasatch Crest
and Mill Creek Canyon trail intersection.
|At the trail fork in the meadow, keep right. You've now
rejoined the Mill Creek Canyon trail. Drop downhill back to parking.
Finally heading downhill in Mill Creek
|Mill Creek Canyon Wasatch Crest Loop using Pine Cone
Ridge, Midmountain and Ironman
|From lower Big Water parking, Mill Creek
0.0 ST south side, middle of parking
N40 41.083 W111 38.906
1.6 Keep straight (Big Water)
N40 40.683 W111 38.486
3.4 Keep R (L = Red Pine Rd Tr)
4.6 Curve R (L = Crest Connector)
N40 41.224 W111 36.081
6.9 Keep straight (R = Mill D)
N40 39.694 W111 35.957
7.0 The Spine N40 39.633 W111 35.852
11.0 Puke Hill N40 37.281 W111 33.723
L on singletrack Pinecone
15.0 Keep L onto Midmountain
N40 38.822 W111 32.299
|15.6 Keep L (R = Armstrong)
N40 39.123 W111 32.280
16.0 L onto Ironman N40 39.328 W111 32.308
17.9 L on Goldfinger (R = to MidMtn)
N40 39.543 W111 33.147
19.0 L on Midmountain N40 39.643 W111 33.355
22.1 Keep straight through Red Pine Lodge area
N40 40.675 W111 34.659
22.9 L on DT, then R on ST
N40 40.954 W111 34.720
24.7 L uphill on Crest Connector
N40 41.482 W111 35.125
26.0 R to descend Mill Creek Canyon
N40 41.224 W111 36.081
30.5 Back at parking
||Getting there: Get to Foothill Blvd on the east bench of
Salt Lake City via I-215. Exit at 39th South. Take 3800 South eastbound into the Canyon.
Mill Creek user fee is $3 per car as of 2009. Drive all the way to the top of the
canyon (about 8 miles). The trail begins on the south end of the Big
Water Trailhead parking area GPS N 40° 40.922' W 111° 38.914'. (Note: the gate to upper
Mill Creek Canyon is open to cars July 1 to November 1. Mountain bikes are only allowed on
upper Mill Creek trails on EVEN numbered days!)