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Charlies 9K Trail

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 Shadow Lake. 

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 westbound doubletrack.

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 shrubs.

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 either Corvair, 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.

Bottom Line
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 Ski Area.

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 here.

Getting there:  
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.

Riding resources:
GPS tracks (right-click and "save as...")  
     9K trail track only    Loop w Black Forest and Corvair 
     Area trails (over 150 tracks)
High-res topo map for printing:    (pending)
Lodging, camping, shops:       Links to Park City area resources

Copyright 2019
updated October 2020