Park City, Utah
Park City’s trail system consists of approximately 400 miles of continuous, non-motorized recreational trails. Spanning two world-class mountain resorts (one is the largest in the US at 7,300 acres) and an additional 8,000 acres of preserved open space, from mountainous, alpine terrain reaching altitudes of nearly 10,000’, to rolling high desert, Park City’s trail system is predominantly buffed single-track interspersed with occasional technical sections, making it the all time trail runners ultimate “play ground.”
With the amount of mileage offered, one’s desire on distance can be easily fulfilled no matter which trail you decide upon. Whether you are running with your fellow Trail Sisters, or a therapeutic solo run, Park City’s trail system has it covered. This article highlights one of our favorites, Sweeney’s Switchbacks, where the runner’s experience will start in historic Old Town Park City, to running through beautiful aspens and shaded packed down trails at around 10,000 feet.
Our tribe decided on one of our favorites, a moderate 5.2 mile loop, with the first two miles of gradual incline, making for a fun, less gruesome down hill. The elevation of the trail run starts at 6,768 ft., and gains 1,069 ft., reaching a max of 7,837 ft. in elevation. This trail is partly shaded by aspens and fir, with many intersections and ski run crossings, but they are all well marked. You will also come across several historic towers that carried mining ore down from the mountain!
It’s best to park at Daly’s lot, which is a dead end dirt lot at the very end of Park City’s historic Main Street. It’s a great way to see some of these historic houses through Park City, making for some incredible views even before your run has begun!
Once you’ve parked here, take the first trail on the right. Make a note that it’s not marked, but don’t worry, you can’t miss it. This is just a connector trail, leading you through a neighborhood nestled along the mountain side. You follow the street to the next trail on the left, which will dead end to the signage for Sweeney’s Switchbacks.
The climb begins; however, try not to let the views distract you from the rocky terrain along the first mile. You will see several signs along the well marked trails… be sure to stay on Sweeny’s Switchbacks.
By now, you will be running through a collection of beautiful tall Aspens. Definitely take the time to stop for photos, it’s breath taking, especially this time of year!
Once you’ve climbed for about 2 miles, you will see a sign for John’s trail. Follow John’s trail until you hit a fire road. Across the fire road you will see the sign for Grave Digger, which takes you through a more shaded (can be cooler) area. You will notice that there are fewer rocks, but more roots are exposed, so keep your eyes on the trail! This section has beautiful rolling terrain, which makes it easy for trail conversations with your fellow runners.
You will run along a ridge, where you will see the infamous Montage Resort up ahead in the distance nestled in the trees. This single track opens up into a fire road where you will then climb for a half mile. But don’t be fooled, there is a bigger climb further up. You just can’t see it yet! This is a good place to push yourself, as you are approaching the end of the trail run up this final grind. For me, this is one of my favorite parts of the run! This is where we get to encourage each other, through banter, of course, to push harder and finish strong!
You will see the sign for Ontario Ridge/Back to Main Street. This is a nice downhill, about ¾ of a mile, leading back to the start at Daly’s parking lot. There is a little bridge at the finish, crossing over the stream from the water running down the Mountain.
Here, you can enjoy the smells of the fresh mountain air and give yourself the opportunity for solitude and reconnection with nature. Whether you are running with your fellow Trail Sisters, or enjoying a peaceful solo run, Park City’s extensive trail system will satisfy the quest for the ultimate runners high. Given the nature of its beauty, it will be like no other. I would recommend picking up a trail map at the Park City Visitor Center. This way, you can check off the trails you’ve tackled, and give yourself an excuse to come back and explore more!
Several More “Must Runs”….
One of our favorite trails in Park City…the terrain is ideal and the climb is moderate. There are many options to make this as long of a run as you’d like, but if you’re looking for a solid 6 miles, here’s the route. It’s best to park at lower lot at Silver Star, 1825 Three Kings Dr. Once you park, head to Silver Star cafe and the trail starts about 50 yards up on the right. Take Armstrong for about 3 miles, when you see the connector, Ham, take Ham until you see Spiro trailhead. Spiro loops back down to the lot. I would recommend enjoying a post run beverage or meal on the patio of Silver Star Cafe before leaving. It’s a great way to end your run.
Round Valley, just a few miles northeast of Old Town Park City and Park City Mountian Resort. It offers 700 acres of preserved open space, with 30 miles of trails, all ranging to meet the needs of the beginner to advanced runner. Park at Quinn’s junction Trailhead, you can start on Matt’s Flat until you see a connector Seventy 101. Take this until you see the sign for to Porcu-climb. This is a new trail made for a small easy (about 2 mile climb). At the top of Porcu-climb , go right, and stay on Rambler until you make it back to National Ability Center and Quinn’s Junction trail head. Again, there are many different trails in Round Valley so feel free to explore new ones or add on to make it a longer run.
Grab a Map… or Print One!
Check out mountaintrails.org for information on the trail system in Park City. This foundation’s mission is build, maintain and advocate for Park City’s non-motorized trail system. Because of this foundation, along with Park City Municipal, Basin Recreation, Deer Valley, PCMR and Summit Land conservancy, the trail system has become phenomenal for locals and tourists to enjoy all year round!
Where to Fuel
Harvest is a new Australian style breakfast and lunch café that serves gourmet coffee and smoothies located in the heart of Park City. This is a great spot if you are strolling Main Street after your run. However, it can get crowded if it’s high ski season or Summer holiday weekends.
There is also a new and improved eco-minded Whole Foods where you can find all your natural and organic groceries and housewares. Have your own kitchen? Here you can grab some protein packed Kodiak Cakes to fuel your adventure on and off the trails!
Vessell Kitchen is a locals favorite. From Hearty toasts, seasonal salads and signature bowls, you walk away feeling healthy and fueled! It even offers a healthy kids menu as well.
Another Australian import, Five5eeds is also a local favorite. It brings great coffee, great food and exceptional service to our community. Here, it doesn’t matter what time your run ends….breakfast is served all day!
Where to Shop
Park City Running Company offers all your trail running needs. From shoes, to apparel, to fuel…they have you covered! There is also a few outdoor retailers, such as Jans Sports and Cole Sports. Be careful though, you’ll find things you didn’t know you needed ;).
More questions? Your fellow Trail Sister is happy to help, just message adventuremom_parkcity.