To coin a Gumpism, Park City winters are like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re going to get. Thus far, this early-season, we’ve managed to snag the salted caramel, with a solid, white-chocolate coating. Thanks to early November storms and cold temps, we were able to get the snowball rolling, grooming nearly 15 Km of high-alpine Nordic track in beautiful Bonanza Flat- the earliest start for our winter trails program, ever! Add to that, improved accessibility to Bonanza, thanks to our trail partners, Park City Municipal and Utah Open Lands, who fired up the winter version of the Transit to Trails program, shuttling snowshoers, skiers, fat-bikers, and four-legged friends up to Empire Pass.
The transition from summer ops to winter was a brief one this season, as we were just wrapping up trail projects in late October. Winter trails prep consists of installing literally hundreds of PVC/rebar and fiberglass markers on nearly 50 km of Nordic track and 25 miles of singletrack we maintain. We perform this ritual each fall in anticipation of a big, phat, winter, where losing the trail is a distinct possibility. Other pre-groom work includes trimming back the upper tree branches, clearing deadfall, and mowing the tall grasses and encroaching sage to ensure the best snow-surface possible.
This year’s MTF winter trails team will consist of first-year, summer trail crew members; Matt Jones and Sean Ward, along with Alec Johnson returning for his second winter. Derek DeHaas and super-hero, Todd Henneman, will round out the team, lending a hand as needed. We’re stoked to have these guys on-board for what’s shaping up to be a stellar winter.
Fat Heads rejoice! New, this season, we’ve added the farm-fresh Sparky trail at Clark Ranch to the mix, for 3.5 miles of groomed fatty-flow and snowshoe fun. With the Big Easy loop in Round Valley, now complete, we’ll also be grooming the entire 6-mile loop for your rolling and strolling (when firm) pleasure.
We’ll continue grooming Bonanza through the weekend of December 18th and potentially later in the spring. And of course, we’ll be grooming all the usual suspects in Round Valley and Clark Ranch as well as the Rail Trail from Bonanza to Hwy 248. While we will not be able to groom the entire Land of Oz this year (a large chunk of it has been tilled) we should be able to milk 3-4km out of it. The Green Heart 5K, accessed from Willow Creek Park, will be in play again this year as well. We are incredibly fortunate to be able to access these agricultural easements for winter recreation but there is some give and take with that privilege.
Winter Trail Updates
As always, we’ll be posting daily grooming updates on our Facebook page and website. For a visual look at what cord and classic has been set, be sure to check out our interactive map.
Tune in to KPCW daily at 7:20am for the Mountain Trails, Wasatch Trails and Basin Rec regional winter trail report.
Winter etiquette is all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Round Valley in the winter is an amazing, grand, socio-recreational experiment that has functioned incredibly well for nearly 15 years. Yes, we are seeing more use, and it’s not to say we don’t have the occasional bad player or two, but for the most part, everyone, be it a hiker, fat biker, dog walker or skate skier, all get along swimmingly, or is that skatingly? We at Mountain Trails have made a concerted effort to separate uses where possible, with trails like the Big Easy (fat bike), Hanscom’s Hollow and Land of Oz (ski only) and that has no doubt, improved the user experience for everyone.
Some general winter etiquette tips:
Fat Bikes– If you are creating a rut deeper than one inch, conditions are too soft. Try lowering your tire pressure (2-5psi) or turn around. #RutsSuck!
Foot Traffic– Please stay to the outside edge, opposite the classic lanes, on the wide-groomed Nordic track and avoid blocking the trail. Don’t run or hike on the singletrack if you are leaving a footprint deeper than 1-inch. Especially just after a storm. Consider taking the snowshoes out for a tromp instead.
Skiers- Contrary to summer bike etiquette, skate skiers trending in the uphill direction must yield to the downhill skiers. Round Valley is NOT a Nordic center. Please slow down at busy intersections and when passing other trail users, pass with patience.
Dogs – Maintain control of, and keep your pups within sight, at all times. Pick up after them (including tossing sticks/sage off-trail) and do not leave poop bags lying on the trail. There are 14 trash cans spread out throughout Round Valley, please use them!