Many riders have a "bucket list" of trails that at some point in their lives they absolutely have to ride. If you were to ask mountain bikers of trails in Utah that would make that list most people would say legendary trails like Slickrock or Porcupine Rim in Moab would top the list. While I wouldn't disagree, a bit further to the north in Utah lies an amazing trail that if better known outside of Utah would be a contender for most people's bucket list; The Wasatch Crest Trail.
Just 20 minutes up the canyon from Salt Lake City lies Park City, UT which was recently nominated as IMBA's first Gold Level Ride Center. With over 450 miles of trails with easy access from many points in town, Park City is a mountain bikers paradise. I've been lucky enough to ride most of the trails here in Park City and now that I have a Blackhawk carbon fiber fat bike, I'm re-visiting all my favorite spots with a bit more rubber than usual. I recently took the fattie up to the top of the Wasatch to try my luck on the Crest Trail.
The Wasatch Crest Trail can be accessed from Big Cottonwood Canyon via car, bike or shuttle, from the Park City side by way of Guardsman's Pass or from Salt Lake City by riding up Mill Creek Canyon. This fall I waited for the aspen trees to hit their amazing fall peek and I got a ride up to the top of Guardsman's Pass to take the Blackhawk out for an amazing ride.
The Wasatch Crest Trail starts at the very top of Guardsman's pass right between the Park City/Midway side of the pass and Big Cottonwood Canyon, home to Brighton and Solitude Ski Resorts. The trail starts off pretty harmless until you hit "Puke Hill". Puke Hill is a long steep climb up a gravel road that takes you to the top of the Wasatch mountains. It's only about a 1/2 mile long but you gain a ton of vertical in a short pitch and with an elevation peaking out at 10,000 feet there's not a lot of air to go around.
Once you get to the top of Puke Hill, the Wasatch Crest Trail gives you amazing views to the East of the Park City side of the Wasatch with views of the Uinta Mountains in the distance. To the West is Big Cottonwood Canyon with views of the peaks in Little Cottonwood, home to Alta and Snowbird. Once you start pedaling there's a bit of a final climb and then you're off on a fast and flowy ride that takes you all the way back to Salt Lake City, 6000 feet below or to the Park City side if you hang a right.
This trail is truly one of a kind and is definitely tops on my list. You should add it to yours.
Check out http://mountaintrails.org/parkcity-trails/ for a great interactive map of all the Park City trails including the Wasatch Crest.