The Charlies 9K trail contours the higher hillside southwest of Park City. At around 9000 feet
elevation, it is a higher-elevation version of the Midmountain
Trail (at 8000 feet). Two segments have been completed as of fall 2020. It
now runs 5.2 miles from Empire Pass to the Blazing Saddles trail above
Looking east as Bruce pedals through a grove of
stunted fir. Photos and initial trail review September 18, 2019. Updated
for new construction October 10, 2020.
The trail can be reached through the Empire Pass parking
area. Take the doubletrack west past the top of Corvair,
then turn right onto 9K 0.1 miles after leaving the parking area. This is a fairly small parking lot, so on weekends you'll probably need
to find another starting spot.
Most riders will start from the big parking area on the Guardsman Road in
Bonanza Flat, 1/2 mile west of Empire Pass. Go uphill across the road to
the singletrack, which will take you east and uphill to meet 9K where it
branches away from the ridge doubletrack.
Heading out from the Empire Pass parking area on the
As the name implies, Charlies 9K trail sticks to an elevation of
around 9000 feet. The terrain is a mix of fir, aspen, and low scrub.
Groves of trees alternate with open grassy areas with wide views.
The trail is a machined bench cut and is mostly smooth dirt. The first
two miles is an easy technical
ride, and not too tough aerobically considering the elevation. The trail
gets a bit more technical and becomes harder work on the western half.
Fir and aspen alternate with alpine grasses and low
You can ride the trail as an out-and-back from Empire Pass,
or create a loop ride. The loop rides tend to be difficult either due to
length or technical riding. Beginning riders should do the first section
of trail (to McConkey's Road or just beyond) as an out-and-back. Solid
intermediate riders can go all the way to Shadow Lake, then return in a
loop via Midmountain or come straight back.
The area downhill from 9K is a complex maze of multiple entangled trails, so
if you're doing a loop ride, it's best to carry
a device with a navigation app to help you find your way. Park City has a
nice big trail map, and I highly recommend it, but even that may not be
enough. And because there are so very many Park City trails, I've buried
many of the individual trail descriptions inside loop ride pages on this
website. So this website won't be of much help either!
Mixed aspen and fir forest.
After starting out from Empire Pass, the first connection for 9K comes at the gravel McConkey's
Road at mile 1.8, where Black Forest
is a 180 downhill right. This is a black-diamond descent to TG2 then to
Midmountain. The next fork comes in 0.4 miles as Stiff Upper Lip forks
right, connecting downhill to Fat Lip at McConkey's Road. (McConkey's
Road goes north to Thaynes Road, Webster Road, and Flat
Iron in the Park City Ski Area.)
Northbound as the trail contours the mountain below
the Empire lift.
At mile 3.8, just after climbing up and over Pioneer Ridge,
9K crosses the Apex trail. Uphill, Apex continues as Dead Tree and
connects to the Scott's Bypass trail for a loop ride option. Downhill,
Apex crosses Keystone (for another loop ride option) then ends on Thaynes
Road, where CMG is just downhill to your left.
9K then contours above the Shadow Lake trail to end on Blazing Saddles
at mile 5.2. Go left uphill to head for Scott's Pass and the Wasatch Crest
or Pinecone. Downhill will take you to the Shadow Lake trail where you can
connect to Keystone.
North slopes tend to have mature forest.
Examples of loop rides using 9K would be:
1. 9K, Black Forest down, Midmountain southbound then
Tour Des Suds, Boulder, or Team Big Bear for the climb uphill.
A hard right turn at mile 1.8 of 9K (at McConkey's) takes you
downhill on Black Forest. It starts out mellow, but there will be steep
rooty sections that warrant an expert rating. Black Forest joins TG2,
coming in from your right. (Resist the temptation to take TG2 south for a
loop. It gets hike-a-bike steep.) Descend to Midmountain, then turn right
to head back for a loop.
View east into Deer Valley.
2. Take 9K all the way to Blazing Saddles. Descend to Shadow Lake then
connect to Keystone. As Keystone ends, continue on Fat Lip then climb
Stiff Upper Lip back to 9K for a lariat ride. Or drop Black Forest to
Midmountain (as above) on your way back for a truly worthy workout.
Very nice trail. It's a very nice out-and-back ride. Or it can be a fun piece of
bigger rides spanning the mountain between Deer Valley and the Park City
A fun log ride, just before the trail hits McConkey's.
Loop from Empire Pass,
descending Black Forest, back via Midmountain and Corvair...
If the above video does not appear on your
browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking
Empire Pass: As you enter Park City, follow the signs for Deer Valley and Guardsman
Road. Get on Bonanza Drive heading south uphill. At the roundabout, turn
toward Empire Canyon (SR 224). Stay on that road for about 3.5 miles. Go
through the roundabout in front of Empire Canyon Lodge and head uphill on
224. Just after the turn to the right, there's parking on the left side of
the road. Park here if you'll start your ride on the Midmountain Trail (back
downhill just above the turn). For Empire Pass (direct access to 9K)
continue to the top of the mountain to the parking area.
Pine Creek/Bonanza Flat trailhead: On the Guardsman Road about 1/2 mile west of Empire
Pass, turn downhill into the trailhead. The connector to the 9K trail is
across the road from parking.
Toilet at Empire Pass and Guardsman Road trailheads.