When I first pulled into Park City with a carload of skis, bikes, and the rest of my jumbled life tossed together, I lucked out by moving in with a roommate whose knowledge of the Park City trail system was and still is, unparalleled by anyone else in this town. I spent the summer sucking wind and chasing my single-speeding roommate around on primo dirt, learning the ins and outs of our 400+ miles of bike trails. It was far from easy – I had to keep up or I’d get dropped and lost, and there were more than a few hissy fits thrown by yours truly out in the woods. Not the proudest moments of my life…
By the end of that summer, I could navigate pretty well around Deer Valley, Round Valley, Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR), and the Canyons’ trails, but one trail we rarely rode was Spiro. Not because it wasn’t any fun, Spiro Trail is one of PCMR’s old-school standbys, and because it had gained such a popular reputation, it was pretty much impossible to ride up without running head on into an overenthusiastic rider coming down. Likewise, coming down was less fun, because mountain bikers had to be ever cautious about whipping around corners and finding themselves face to face with uphill traffic.
Park City’s First Uphill-Only Trail
Enter the Armstrong Trail. This uphill-only trail was completed in the fall of 2012, offering an alternative route from the base of Silver Star. Like any properly grumpy mountain town local, I was a hater of any change to the trail system. I had a litany of excuses to justify my irrational distaste for the new trail – there were too many trails already in Park City, Armstrong was too easy, not technical enough, too wide, etc. But I found myself climbing it to access upper trails more and more often. Slowly and begrudgingly, I had to admit that I appreciated its existence. It was a gentler way of gaining elevation than tackling the Sweeney’s Switchbacks/John’s Trail route I usually took when I wanted to ride the north side of PCMR. And, it alleviated the traffic issues on Spiro. However, my irrational grudge/elitist attitude still holds for Spiro, some things never change.
Armstrong Trail – Details and Options
Here’s the beta on Armstrong: The trail starts at the intersection of Silver Star and Crescent Rd, near the base of the Silver Star chairlift at PCMR. Almost immediately after you head up the trail, Armstrong will split off to the right and Spiro will be to the left. From there on, it’s pretty straightforward – the climb lasts for a shade under 4 miles, and spits you out onto the Mid Mountain Trail. As far as climbs go, it’s pretty gradual and rolling, and has good flow. Ample tree coverage makes this a nice option on 90 degree summer days, and, although I may be biased towards fall in Park City, there’s nothing better than pedaling through golden aspen groves near the top of Armstrong.
For those who want to cut out early, the H.A.M. Trail turns off from Armstrong at mile 3, and is a fun .6 mile connector which puts you onto Spiro. For those who want a longer ride, from the Armstrong/Mid Mountain junction, you can head right towards the Canyons or turn left to access Spiro, Crescent Mine Grade, or continue upward towards a multitude of options. If you’re up for a big day, Armstrong is a great way to access the Wasatch Crest Trail, either via Mid Mountain to Pinecone or Mid Mountain to the old Powerline Trail. Keep in mind that although Armstrong thins out traffic on Spiro, it does NOT mean that Spiro is downhill only. Uphill traffic and hikers still frequent it and riding in control is always recommended.
Although Armstrong isn’t technical, it does require a good dose of fitness to climb the whole thing, even just to the H.A.M connector. If you find yourself pooped out halfway up, well, too bad! You’re going to have to keep climbing, because getting tired isn’t a good enough excuse to ride a directional trail the wrong way. So ride smart – and bring enough food and water to fuel the ride. The Osprey Raptor 6 Backpack is my personal favorite for short to medium long rides – it sits perfectly in the right spot on my back, has a magnetic clip to keep the hose out of the way, and has just enough space for snacks, tube, multi-tool, and extra layer.
Armstrong By the Numbers
Net elevation gain:
Current Trail Conditions
We recommend staying off of Armstrong for another few weeks at least – in typical northern Utah fashion, late spring storms have surprised us with a snow/wintry mix, which I’m sure we’ll appreciate later on down the road. Riding muddy trails is a mountain biker faux pas, to say the least, so don’t be that guy or girl ruining the fun for the rest of us.
Check out the Mountain Trails Foundation Interactive Map or the Mountain Trails Facebook page for the latest trail conditions and updates. Or, swing by White Pine Touring on Bonanza Drive or Jans on Park Avenue and chat with one of our experts. More likely than not, they’ll be able to give you the local beta scoop on Armstrong as well as other mountain bike trails that have already dried out in Park City.
Evelyn Dong, Content Writer