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Sparky's Loop
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 climb.

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 the turn.

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 slow down.

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 trail
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.

Bottom Line:
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 here.

Getting there:

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.)

No bathroom or water at trailhead.

Riding resources:
GPS tracks (right-click and "save as...")  
     Area trails (over 150 tracks)  Clark Ranch only
Lodging, camping, shops:       Links to Park City area resources

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