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Pinecone Ridge

The Pinecone Ridge trail opened in 2012, and it's an immediate game-changer for higher-altitude Park City riding. It creates a new and simple route from the Midmountain Trail to the southeastern end of the Wasatch Crest Trail. On this page I have information for an out-and-back, a popular Park City loop, and a loop from Mill Creek Canyon in Salt Lake.

We're about a mile from the top of Pinecone Ridge at 9500 feet elevation, looking west. The rock outcrop is the hill just northwest of Puke Hill. Photos July 9, 2012.

Pinecone Ridge starts on the Midmountain Trail, 0.6 miles south of the junction with the Armstrong Trail and 1.2 miles north of the junction of Spiro with Midmountain. It ascends 1400 vertical feet in 4 miles for a reasonable climb rate of 350 vertical feet per mile. The trail ends on the Wasatch Crest, exactly at the flat "catch your breath" area atop Puke Hill.

Bottom trail fork. The lower trail is the Midmountain. To the right is Pinecone Ridge.

The trail is already well-traveled, smooth, and packed. Yes there are a few rocky bumpy spots through one short section, but those rocky spots won't get any smoother. The climbing rate is pretty steady throughout the length of the trail.

There are frequent water-shedding swooshes that are reasonably pitched when spinning uphill. On the downhill, these add to the fun. Keep your speed in control, or you may find yourself accidentally airborne.

When the trail is taken downhill, sight lines are longer than almost any other Park City trail. Slow for corners and blind spots, because you'll encounter uphill riders frequently. Stop to the side for uphill riders. Most stretches of this trail don't have enough room for safe two-way traffic.

Typical trail view as the route crawls uphill through the aspens.

Occasionally the trail breaks out of fir and aspen forest for views of the surrounding canyons. At the top, views await you in every direction from an altitude of 9800 feet.

If you're in a hurry, the fastest route to Pinecone Ridge is to take Spiro uphill for 2 miles, then fork right on HAM and connect to upper Armstrong.

One of the rare view breakouts, as the trail turns on a ridgeline. We're looking south. The mountain is Jupiter Peak above Shadow Lake in Thayne Canyon.

When climbing to the Crest from Park City, the combination of Armstrong with a piece of southbound Midmountain and Pinecone Ridge yields 9 miles to the Crest with 3000 vertical feet of climbing. From Puke Hill, riders seem to be taking three options:

(1) Out-and-back. Turn around and cruise back down. Take a hard right on Midmountain, then drop down Spiro to the trailhead.  This ride will be about 18 miles. Many riders continue past Spiro on Midmountain and drop back to the resort on Crescent Mine Grade (CMG). This route adds a couple of miles.

Trail view as we climb higher.

(2) Loop via Shadow Lake. At Puke Hill, turn left down the doubletrack, then drop toward Shadow Lake at Scott's Pass. Take Shadow Lake to Keystone to Apex to CMG. Surprisingly, this route is actually a bit shorter than the out-and-back at 17 miles. If you're in a hurry, you can drop down Powerline to Spiro for an even shorter ride.

Looking east toward Park City, a couple of miles above the Midmountain.

(3) Hero Crest Loop. Continue straight on the Wasatch Crest. Take the Crest Connector back to Midmountain, then drop back to Park City from your favorite connector. This ride will be just over 30 miles. Your total vertical will be surprising: 5400 feet of climbing.

On the upper mountain firs replace the aspens of the lower slopes.

The Salt Lake option.  For strong riders who want to start riding from Salt Lake, Pinecone Ridge should also be on your radar. From the top of Mill Creek Canyon or Mill D North Fork or Guardsman Pass, you can ride a Wasatch Crest to Midmountain loop in either direction, using Pinecone Ridge as either your climb-back route, or your downhill for a counterclockwise backwards-Crest loop. I like the backwards Crest ride. Note: You can only take the Mill Creek route on even-numbered days.

Almost there. The final approach to the top of Puke Hill.

Bottom line:
This trail is an important addition to the riding options for Park City and also for the Wasatch Crest. It's technically easy and features cool forested riding followed by beautiful views. But this ride is reserved for strong, conditioned, acclimatized riders. Ending at almost 10,000 feet, that 3000 vertical is tough.

Looking into Big Cottonwood Canyon toward Brighton from Puke Hill.

Out-and-Back:  Armstrong to Pine Cone Ridge, Spiro downhill
From northern parking, Park City Mountain Resort:
0.0   Leave PCMR parking to North
        N40 39.247 W111 30.550
        Cross to Three Kings Dr northbound
0.3   L uphill on Crescent N40 39.382 W111 30.813
0.4   R to gravel area, L onto ST
        N40 39.401 W111 30.899
0.5   R on Armstrong N40 39.341 W111 30.900
3.7   Keep R at N40 38.898 W111 31.979
        (L = HAM)
4.5   Hard L onto Midmountain
        N40 39.123 W111 32.280
5.0   R uphill on Pinecone Ridge
        N40 38.822 W111 32.299
9.0   Top of Puke Hill, N40 37.281 W111 33.727
        Reverse direction to descend
13.0 Hard R on Midmountain
        N40 38.822 W111 32.299
14.1 L (R = Powerline), then straight to Spiro
        N40 37.964 W111 32.180
        (R = continuing Midmountain)
14.2 Join doubletrack downhill
14.6 L off DT onto singletrack
15.4 Keep R (L = HAM) N40 38.805 W111 31.623
4.5   Keep L on Spiro N40 38.807 W111 31.622
16.3 Keep L (R = Eagle) N40 39.163 W111 31.129
17.2 Keep L (R = Silver Spur) N40 39.306 W111 30.895
17.3 Hard R at Armstrong/Spiro junction
        N40 39.341 W111 30.900
17.4 Onto pavement
17.8 Back at parking
Loop Pine Cone Ridge ride via Shadow Lake, Keystone, Apex, and CMG
Loop Spiro to CMG
0.0   Leave PCMR parking to North
        N40 39.247 W111 30.550
        Cross to Three Kings Dr northbound
0.3   L uphill on Crescent N40 39.382 W111 30.813
0.4   R to gravel area, L onto ST
        N40 39.401 W111 30.899
0.5   R on Armstrong N40 39.341 W111 30.900
3.7   Keep R at N40 38.898 W111 31.979
        (L = HAM)
4.5   Hard L onto Midmountain
        N40 39.123 W111 32.280
5.0   R uphill on Pinecone Ridge
        N40 38.822 W111 32.299
9.0   Top of Puke Hill, N40 37.281 W111 33.727
        Turn left downhill on DT
9.5   Scott's Pass, L on DT
        N40 36.998 W111 33.480

9.8   L onto singletrack Shadow Lake
        N40 37.080 W111 33.192
10.6 Keep straight on DT
        N40 37.070 W111 32.736
        Straight onto Keystone
11.8 Join DT, then L on Apex
        N40 37.783 W111 31.866
12.5 L on DT (Thaynes Rd)
        N40 38.028 W111 31.774
12.8 Hard R on Crescent Mine Grade
        N40 37.817 W111 32.020
13.7 R on Midmountain N40 38.182 W111 31.511
13.8 L on DT 100 feet, then R on CMG
        N40 38.254 W111 31.441
16.1 L downhill on DT N40 38.602 W111 30.663
17.0 Back at resort (parking to left)

Mill Creek Canyon Wasatch Crest Loop using Pine Cone Ridge, Midmountain and Ironman
From lower Big Water parking, Mill Creek Canyon
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 Ridge
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:  In Park City, follow the signs to Park City Mountain Resort. As you see the first parking area, turn in and park there. Now ride your bike back out onto Silver King Drive, heading west (uphill, toward the mountain, and the way you were heading when you first saw the parking lot). Turn right onto Three Kings. The next left will be Crescent Drive. Turn uphill. Look for some yellow posts on the right, where Crescent Drive turns left. Go R through the posts and find the singletrack on the uphill side. N 40 39.390' W 111 30.895' (For the loop ride, your return will be at the south end of the parking lot.)

Parking:  Not at trailhead! Use north Park City Resort lot.
Water:  None at trailhead.
Bathrooms: None.
Bike services: Multiple in Park City, includes rentals
Camping: Hailstone on US 40

Mill Creek TH: Exit eastern 215 at 39th South, turn left. Turn right on 3800 South and drive eastbound into the Canyon. Mill Creek user fee is $3 per car (as of 2009) payable as you exit. Drive all the way to the top of the canyon. 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!)

Riding Resources:
  Higher-res topo area map for printing:  View map
  Single-page riding guides for printing:
       Out-and-back   Loop via Shadow Lake   Mill Creek Epic

  GPS tracks for this ride:
       GPX Pine Cone Ridge trail only
       Out-and-back (Up Armstrong, down Spiro)
       PC Loop (down Shadow Lake, Keystone, CMG)
       Mill Creek PiCo MidMtn loop (30 miles, 4300 feet)
       Park City multi-track file

  Lodging, camping, shops:
     Links to Park City area resources