This Friday was the first day of lift-assisted mountain biking at Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort’s bike park at Canyons. I spent the day at Deer Valley with a small crew (Trace, Alex and Kevin, a.k.a. Fahzure Freeride) and documented the first official day of the Park City gravity mountain bike season. It was absolutely spectacular, with beautiful weather, perfect temperatures, good company and excellent trail conditions. We couldn’t have asked for a better opening day for Deer Valley mountain biking.
Deer Valley has put a lot of work into their bike park, recently. Last year they contracted Gravity Logic to design and build some new trails as well as update some of the classics. Gravity Logic is the same company that built and maintains the mountain bike trails at Whistler, the gold standard in lift-assisted bike parks. The work they’ve done at Deer Valley totally lives up to the hype. The centerpiece is Tidal Wave, a blue (intermediate) flow trail with big berms and big table-top jumps that runs from the top of the resort to the mid-mountain Silver Lake area. It’s a work of art and something the Utah gravity mountain bike community has been wanting for a long, long time. It’s really a game-changer for Deer Valley, making it absolutely worth the price of a lift ticket.
For less experienced riders who aren’t ready for Tidal Wave, Gravity Logic is working on a beginner flow trail called Holy Roller. There’s also been a lot of work on old favorites like Twist & Shout and Naildriver, building better berms and generally improving the flow. If you’re a fan of the old-school Deer Valley DH gnar – not to worry. We rode upper and lower Fire Swamp, lower Twist & Shout and lower NCS yesterday (all black diamond or double-black diamond expert trails), and they were all just as chunky, steep and nasty as ever.
New bike trays have been added to the Sterling Express lift at Silver Lake, as well. Anyone who’s ever ridden Whistler in the summer will be familiar with the trays. Every third or fourth chair has been replaced by a tray unit. You simply set your bike in the tray and then take your seat on the next chair. It’s easy, there’s less risk of damage to the bike and it speeds up the lift line. It’s a really nice improvement – especially since the park is likely to have more visitors because of the new trails.
Deer Valley mountain biking isn’t all EXTREME DH. If you’re more of an XC or trail rider, Deer Valley is still an excellent place to ride. Besides the gravity trails, DV’s extensive trail network also includes miles of fun, swoopy singletrack through alpine meadows, aspen groves and evergreens with beautiful Wasatch Mountain backdrops. You can use the lift to gain 1000+ feet of vertical and save your energy for pedaling farther and longer in the high country. Or, if you’re so-inclined, pedal up from the bottom and just enjoy the beautiful trails – it doesn’t cost anything to ride at Deer Valley. You only have to pay if you want to ride the lifts.
Trace, Kevin, Alex and I had a great time at Deer Valley’s opening day. Most of the time I prefer to earn my turns (pedal up). But it is nice to ride the lift, save your energy for the downhills and bang out a bunch of laps. It’s also nice to have the option of using the lifts to get you up quickly so you can spend your time on the high alpine trails, instead of just getting to the top. If you haven’t been to Deer Valley before, I highly recommend it. And if it’s been a few years since you’ve ridden Deer Valley, you need to check out all the new improvements. Tidal Wave alone makes it worth the price of admission.
For more information on Deer Valley mountain biking, please visit their Web site, at www.deervalley.com. For more Park City mtb info, check out Alex’s site, Park City Mountain Biking, at www.parkcitymountainbike.com.