aka Clark Ranch Loop, Richardson Flat
The Sparky's Loop (Clark Ranch) trail is a one-way loop ride. While hikers can stroll
either direction, mountain bikes must go counterclockwise. The trail
starts at 6600 feet elevation in Richardson Flat, a sagebrush meadow just
east of US-40 in the Quinn Junction area. It climbs a hill before looping back to the start.
Pedaling south on the climbing side of the loop.
Photos, video, and review by Bruce on
September 26, 2022.
The loop is 3.5 miles in length with 350 vertical feet of
climbing. It can be a quick ride. The trail is an engineered bench-cut
with tall banks on the turns, designed to be ridden one direction. The
technical level and slope are appropriate for beginning riders.
The expected riding season will be late May through early November. The
trail didn't have an "official" name according to the local
trail foundation (in September 2022), but
the temporary sign said "Clark Ranch" so that's what I went with
in the video and initial publication of this page.
The trail meanders south roughly parallel to US-40,
until it pops over the ridge for a very fun downhill.
To get there, go to Highway 248 (Kearns Blvd) east
of Park City and turn onto the Richardson Flats Road. This road joins
Highway 248 at both ends, one end on either side of US-40. Just west of the big Park 'n Ride
lot and east of US-40, there's a dirt road on the south side that
goes 100 yards to a parking area. This gravel trailhead
has room for around 10 vehicles. Pedal south through the gate and find the
outgoing singletrack on your right.
Looking south from the parking area. The outgoing
trail is about 50 feet past the gate on your right.
Sparky's Loop (Clark Ranch) Trail
First, make sure you're on the correct limb of the trail for
a counterclockwise ride. Turn right on the first trail that forks away
from the dirt road, 50 feet past the fence.
The loop ride starts in a sea of sagebrush, as the trail
meanders through Richardson Flat. You'll spend about 1/2 mile twisting
through the Flat before the trail reaches a scrub oak area and begins to
The half-mile of sage brush goes by pretty quickly.
The trail has lots of turns, so it's not boring.
The uphill limb of the loop is close enough to US-40 that
you'll hear the traffic as you ride. As you climb 350 vertical feet,
so does the traffic on the highway. So the big-rig engines will be making
a bit of noise.
Climbing a shallow valley between US-40 and the hill.
Later, we'll cross over and climb the slope that's to my left ahead.
After climbing into a small valley that parallels US-40
southbound, there are sets of climbing turns on the eastern slope of that
valley. These are swooping banked turns that are designed to be
attacked with speed. There's fairly flat trail before and after each turn,
so you recover nicely from the burst of effort required to climb through
Zooming up and around a climbing turn.
While most of the trail lies in gambel oak terrain, there
are a few aspen and maple in cooler areas. For the loop, 1/2 mile on each
end is nothing but sagebrush, 1/2 mile is aspen and maple, and the other 2
miles is tall scrub oak groves with bits of sagebrush between them.
Approaching a bit of fall color!
Two scenic trail views during the climb. While
the trailside contains mostly oak brush, there are spots of cedar, maple, and aspen.
But! This is not a ride for the scenery -- it's a flow trail that you love
for the actual riding.
The climbing isn't constant. Around mile 1.2, you'll turn
north and begin to descend. But this is not the summit. After 1/10th mile
the trail resumes climbing again and turns back southbound.
At mile 1.5 of the loop, the trail crosses a ridgeline. It makes a
quick 180 turn to the north to begin the two-mile downhill on the
east-facing slope of the hill.
Almost to the top. After a "fake" summit
and a bit of descending, you'll turn back to the south and climb across
the real top of the hill. The trail will then be northbound for good.
The pitch of the descent is gradual. There may be some spots
where you'll pedal to increase your speed. The trail winds back and forth
through wide banked turns. Most of the banked turns are simple
"adjustments" but there around a dozen full 180 reversals. The
turning radius and the berm are sufficient that you usually won't need to
Rolling around a turn on dirt ribbon.
Between turns, the trail has dips and curves that make the
downhill lots of fun. There are a few table jumps. For many of them, I
didn't have enough speed to clear the top. But then I'm old and timid. An
expert rider should have no problem spending a bit of time in the air.
This isn't the sort of tech downhill where you have to make a scouting
run first. Everything that's coming up is obvious in your sight line. Lots
of cruise and flow.
Drone shot shows the undulations in the trail.
The downhill is really fun. Here are a
couple of shots that show the action. Banked partial turns on winding
on the left and a pop-up over a table jump on the right.
As you get back to Richardson Flat, the pitch of the trail
gets flatter. It's still downhill, but barely so. You've got 1/2 mile of
twisty trail in the sagebrush. Add a bit of pedal to
reach the speed you want.
Very nicely built trail, both in design and digging. I really enjoyed the
ride. The sagebrush and the noise of US-40 during the climb should not
keep you away. The downhill run is super fun -- I hit the loop twice so I
could rock the downhill without the heavy camera pack on my back. This
trail is worth a visit.
Almost to the sagebrush again.
A September ride on the
Sparky's (Clark Ranch) Loop...
If the above video does not appear on your
browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking
From US-40 east of Park City, take the Quinn's (Keetley) Junction exit
and turn west toward Park City on Kearns Blvd. After around one mile, turn
left on Richardson Flats Road. Pass under US-40, then watch for a dirt
road on your right at 0.8 miles from Kearns Blvd. The parking area is in
front of the gate after 1/10th mile. Go through the gate on the dirt road
then turn to the right on the first singletrack. (Note that the loop is
one-way. The second singletrack just up the road is the return path.)