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Shadow Lake Loop
Park City Mountain Resort

The Park City area has excellent high-altitude alpine biking. The snow clears about mid-June to early July. The trails on the west side of town are shaded and cool, and clear of snow relatively late compared to the east-side trails. This page describes an old classic ride, Shadow Lake, which offers a lot of different (and confusing) riding options.

On August 10, 1998, Dehn, Rob, and Mike arrive at Shadow Lake with Jasmine, Mike's energetic Jack Russell terrier.

You can ride the loop either direction: it depends on whether you want to hit John's audacious quakie ride uphill or down. Or if you hate John's, there are ways to climb (and descend) via straight smooth trail.

Fair warning: every time I do this ride with locals, they take a different route. I'm supplying six different "official" versions of this ride (see the GPX course files)..

A humid August morning in 1998 after a light rain. Four ER docs and two techs climb up Sweeney's and struggle over the muddy slippery roots of John's Trail. We take a break, and somebody snaps a photo of Bruce's helmet hair, wife-beater shirt, and not-racing-shape body.

The shortest route (via Spiro) will be about 12 miles. The easier CMG route is 15.

You'll gain 1500 feet of elevation, starting at 6900 from PCMR parking.

The Silver King mine at the top of Johns. This photo was in my pile of old 1998 pictures, but it doesn't look like it was taken the same day.

Take a current Park City trail map. They're free (a donation is suggested) at Park City bike shops. The multiple interconnecting trails can be a bit confusing. New trails appear every year. The upper Sweeney's to lower John's area is a jumbled mess of cheater routes and interconnections.

No problem -- just ride. Ask for directions. And if you're totally lost, aim your bike downhill and keep pedaling until you find pavement.

We haven't even made it up Steps yet, and it's time for another break.

My original ride (back in the previous century) was up Sweeney's, then John's, then Steps, then Thaynes Road to the lake. The return was by Keystone to Meadow Road to Steps to Johns again, then off on 4:20 (which had another name back then) to Gravedigger to Daly Canyon.

There are dozens of permutations on this ride. I'm not going to spend a lot of wordage describing specific routes. The CMG/Apex route will be our featured ride (see mileage chart below). 

View from Steps down toward the ski lifts near the top of John's Trail. 

Easiest climbing route: Crescent Mine Grade, then Thaynes to Apex, Keystone.

Easy but BORING: King Road to Thaynes Road

Hardest climbing routes (tie): Sweeney's then Johns, Steps, Thaynes. Or Spiro to Powerline, Thaynes

Most-fun descending route: Keystone to Apex, Thaynes to Steps, Johns, 4:20, Gravedigger, Ontario Ridge

Dehn looks over the valley above Park City on Thaynes Road. August 10, 1998.

Getting there: Crescent Mine Grade. On Park City's main drag, turn towards Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR). Turn right on Empire then veer right again at Silver King Drive. Pull into the big parking lot. Pedal southwest across the parking lot, toward the Payday lift and the Alpine Slide. Find the gravel road on the edge of the parking lot, heading southwest between the First Time ski slope and the buildings.Continue uphill.

Mike, an emergency physician living in Park City, cranks past the ruins of the Jupiter mine. August 10, 1998.

Getting there: Spiro Trail.  On Park City's main drag, turn towards Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR). Turn right on Empire then veer right again at Silver King Drive. Pull into the big parking lot. Start pedaling. Go north out of the parking lot onto Silver King Drive and turn left toward the mountains. Turn right onto Three Kings. The next left will be Crescent Drive. Pedal about 1/4 mile uphill on Crescent. The trail is the singletrack at a blocked-off paved area on your right where Crescent Drive turns left. N 40 39.390' W 111 30.895'

Bruce at Shadow Lake, on one of his first-ever mountain rides. Picture by Mike. Old hardtail, soft body.

Getting there: Sweeney Switchbacks. On Park City's main drag, turn towards Park City Mountain Resort. Turn right on Empire then veer right again at Silver King Drive. Turn left on Lowell, then pull right into the parking area. Park. Pedal back out of the parking lot onto Lowell and turn right, uphill. Keep straight past the resort. When you reach the spot where the road turns around in a loop, the doubletrack straight ahead is the trail. (Do NOT park in the neighborhood!) N 40 38.785' W 111 30.076'
Riding notes, loop via CMG/Apex:
0.0   Exit parking lot on gravel road south
        N40 39.245 W111 30.550
        Aim between ski slope and Alpine Slide
0.5   Keep straight as alternate joins
        N40 38.829 W111 30.629
0.9   Fork R on ST N40 38.599 W111 30.660
1.9   Keep straight N40 39.005 W111 31.292
2.9   Uphill on DT N40 38.259 W111 31.445
        Immediate R onto ST (Midmountain)
3.1   L uphill on CMG (leave Midmountain)
        N40 38.189 W111 31.511
4.2   L uphill on Thaynes Road (end CMG)
        N40 37.816 W111 32.021
4.6   R uphill on Apex singletrack
        N40 38.015 W111 31.756
5.2   R on Keystone N40 37.783 W111 31.866
6.2   L on DT
6.3   L to visit Shadow Lake N40 37.073 W111 32.733
6.4   L uphill on Jupiter Rd N40 37.026 W111 32.771
7.0   L downhill on Apex N40 37.157 W111 32.302
8.2   Cross Keystone, descend Apex
        N40 37.774 W111 31.875
8.7   R on Thaynes Road N40 38.002 W111 31.738
9.3   At Yurt, L on Steps N40 37.832 W111 31.225
10.3 Keep L, turn 180 N40 37.729 W111 31.078
10.5 Keep R, join Midmountain
        N40 37.883 W111 30.898
10.6 R downhill N40 37.907 W111 30.838
10.7 L downhill (leave Midmountain)
        N40 37.819 W111 30.943
        Cross saddle, pass lift on R
        N40 37.941 W111 30.723
11.1 R on ST (Johns) N40 38.020 W111 30.548
12.3 Keep L (R=4:20) N40 38.411 W111 30.193
12.6 L to join Sweeney's N40 38.482 W111 30.145
12.7 Hard R to stay on Sweeney's
        N40 38.518 W111 30.259
12.8 L (R = South Sweeney) N40 38.547 W111 30.138
13.1 L (R = to South Sweeney) N40 38.642 W111 30.092
13.4 R downhill (L= to CMG and Flat Cable)
        N40 38.728 W111 30.266
13.5 R downhill (L = shortcut to PCMR)
        N40 38.751 W111 30.254
14.0 L on DT N40 38.611 W111 29.886
14.3 Straight on Lowell Ave
15    Back at parking
Ride Notes from Sweeney Switchbacks:
0.0   Head up doubletrack, keep straight at 0.1
0.3   Fork L to climb singletrack (N Sweeney)
0.85 Keep L uphill as trail joins
1.15 Fork, turn hard R
1.6   R on doubletrack (ignore singletrack across road)
1.7   Fork hard L on singletrack
1.8   Fork L (John's Connector)
2.5   Fork L uphill on John's
4.2   Saddle, uphill W past Town Lift on DT
4.7   Fork R on ST (Steps)
5.5  Top of Steps, W past Yurt on Thaynes DT
6.5   Uphill on DT at lift
        Alternate routes reconnect, keep straight
7.3   At Shadow Lake, R to ride around lake
Riding resources:
Single-page riding guide (Sweeney start)
GPS Track Files  (Right-click and "Save as...")
      GPX course via CMG and Apex, down Steps / Johns  
      via Spiro / Powerline      via King Rd / Thaynes 
      via Sweeney/Johns/Apex, down CMG
      via CMG / Apex, down Steps / Johns / 4:20 / Gravedigger
      Scott's Pass Loop version (Dead Tree)
        Multi-track Shadow Lake area GPX
        Multi-track Park City area file (huge!)
Topo maps for printing:   Variation1    Variation2
Lodging, camping, shops:
     Links to Park City area resources

Multimedia with live-action video!

Copyright 2002 Mad Scientist Software Inc

Park City has a huge and very detailed map showing almost all of the complex interconnecting trails in the area. It's free (at least for the years 2002-2011) at Park City bike shops. A $5 donation is appreciated to support this important service.

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