Whether you’re on your bike or stomping around in your running shoes or hiking boots, gaining elevation is difficult, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. The grunt and sweat, the slow and steady climb, it’s all worth it once you reach the top—especially in Park City, where you’re met with majestic views and a plethora of choices for getting back down. The newest “top” in Park City is Bonanza Flat, a 1500-acre slice of land that was preserved as open space by the Park City community through a bond. Preserving this little piece of high alpine heaven is a dream come true for mountain bikers, hikers, cross country and backcountry skiers, snowshoers, and not to mention, deer, elk, moose, birds, trees, plants … the list goes on and on.
A while back we wrote about winter recreation opportunities in Bonanza Flat, and we thought a summer followup would be a great way to showcase the summer recreation opportunities in the area. In fact, much of the infrastructure upgrades the city has done for parking, new trails, and trailheads are summer-specific facilities to accommodate increased users and parking needs.
New Parking Areas and Trailheads in Bonanza Flat
In the past, Bonanza Flat has been something of a no man’s land. If you could find a spot to park at the top of Guardsman Pass, you could park there, but it usually meant leaving your car six inches away from a 400-foot drop and probably blocking traffic on the narrow mountain pass. After the land acquisition, Park City imposed new rules at the top of Guardsman Pass, making the area a drop-off-only point while building three new parking areas lower down.
- Empire Pass Trailhead – This trailhead is located at the top of Empire Pass where Marsac goes up and over the ridge. Bathrooms are provided, and the trails accessible from this parking area are WOW (Wasatch Over Wasatch), Corvair, the new 9k and 9K Connector, and Flagstaff Loop. All of these trails access Mid Mountain after ~500 feet of descending.
- Bonanza Flat Trailhead – This newly constructed trailhead is located down the hill on the Bonanza Flat side. Bathrooms are provided, and the trails accessible from this parking area are WOW (Wasatch Over Wasatch), Corvair, the new 9K and 9k Connector, and Flagstaff Loop. All of these trails access Mid Mountain after a short climb back on the 9K Connector trail to the top of Empire Pass and then ~500 feet of descending. This lot is a great overflow option if the Empire Pass Trailhead is full.
- Bloods Lake Trailhead – Also known as the “Quarry” to some locals, this trailhead is located about a mile or so up Guardsman Pass road. Bathrooms are provided, and trails accessible from this parking area are the Bloods Lake and Lake Lackawaxen trail. These are both hike-only trails, but the Lake Lackawaxen trail is dog-friendly!
New Trails in Bonanza Flat
The Mountain Trails Foundation wasted no time getting to work on new trails as well! With mini-excavators, shovels, picks, and rakes at the ready, they quickly carved in new trails to accommodate hikers and mountain bikers in the area.
- Hiking Trails – With the top of Guardsman Pass now off-limits for parking, a new trail to Bloods Lake was quickly put in place. This trail is aptly named Bloods Lake trail. Additionally, the old Lake Lackawaxen trail (dog-friendly) was also overhauled for easier use. These are terrific hiking trails with high alpine lakes as your treat for making it to the top. The Lake Lackawaxen trail in particular is a testament to high-quality trail building with real creativity used to traverse scree and boulder fields.
- Mountain Biking Trails – Within Bonanza Flat proper, there are no new mountain biking trails. However, the parking areas and trailheads listed above provide ease of parking and access to new connections and existing trails. While you can’t park at the top of Guardsman Pass to access the Wasatch Crest Trail any more, you can pedal up from the Bloods Lake Trailhead. Or, the new 9K trail, accessible from either the Empire Pass or Bonanza Flat trailheads, connects to Blazing Saddle and everyone’s favorite trail, Puke Hill, leading up to the Crest. And last but not least, the 9K Connector trail gives you quick access to Pine Canyon Road and the WOW trail.
Preserving Bonanza Flat was one of the best decisions Park City has made as a community and is part of a legacy of protecting open space for all to enjoy. Sitting at 9,000 feet elevation, this “new top” is worth exploring either on foot, by bike, or with your favorite canine companion. The new bathrooms and trailheads provide ease of use all summer long, opening up this magnificent space to all users.
Looking for a more personal experience? Through our partners at White Pine Touring, we offer guided hiking and mountain biking in Park City. Or if you need a way to quick-reference parking areas and trails, you can use the interactive map on Mountaintrails.org or purchase a copy of Prime Cuts 3, a trail guide written by the author of this blog post and two other locals who frequent Park City’s immense trail network on the regular.
By: Paul Boyle, Production Manager, jans.com