Did you know that much of the Park City area trail system is on private land? From Deer Valley, across Park City Mountain and over to the Utah Olympic Park, many of the summer trail faves like Charlie’s 9K, Mid Mountain, Armstrong, Jenni’s, and my personal favorites on opposite sides of town, Keystone/Apex and Flagstaff/Bowhunter, are all accessible to the public, free of charge, through the grace of private landowners. Sure, the resorts benefit from summer lift ticket sales, but unlike sales to affluent ski tourist, bike haul to a free public trail system is not a business enterprise that justifies the investment of considerable resources our trail system perpetually requires (this is where MTF come into play). That said, we acknowledge that Deer Valley invests significantly in its wildly successful downhill/flow park – and yet, to those who are willing to ride up to the top (and sign an online waiver), the downhill trip is still free.
Bridging the gap between landowner permission and funding the maintenance/building of Park City’s free trail system is where Mountain Trails sets precedence. Our community’s model for building and maintaining a world-class trail system is, well. . . world-renowned. In fact, last week, IMBA referred a New Zealand nonprofit in need of advice on the art of coordinating private donations for a public trail system. Their big hang ups: lack of coordinated funding and poor-to-impossible communication with landowners. I couldn’t help but rejoice in the great fortune that Park City’s trail system exists on private land, is built with friendly, hand-shake agreements and is supported by a widespread understanding that trails are good for people.
As we move toward a summer chockfull of projects that will improve safety, flow, sustainability and enjoyability of this unique trail system, the MTF board and staff proudly honor the cooperation of private landowners, land trusts and local government that make 400 miles of free trail available to all. With a willingness to collaborate and entrust MTF with the coordination of a trail system that provides public access to private land, our entire community is elevated. Lucky us.
Lora Smith, Executive Director
Mountain Trails Foundation