When you think of Park City, Utah, you probably think snow and winter. That's a fair connection considering the 2002 Winter Olympics were hosted here and the Sundance Film Festival happens every January (I was fortunate to attend). But there's so much more to Park City than its superb snow sports conditions.
This summer, I traveled to Park City to photograph a corporate event over a long weekend. I spent most of my time at the Montage Deer Valley and had some occasional bouts of free time. What to do? I considered trips to Historic Main Street via Park City's free transit system. But the blue skies and sunny 78º weather were calling my name, so hiking it was!
Deer Valley, Utah
Situated about 1.7 miles above Park City's Main Street, Deer Valley is home to several top ski resorts. In the summertime, ski lifts and paths turn into miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. Many of the chairlifts run during daytime hours in the summertime. For a fee, you can ride the lift to the top of several mountains. Some lifts are even specialized to carry mountain bikes. Of course, you can always hike your way up the mountains on foot if you want an extra work out. The best compromise is to ride the chairlift up and hike down.
All of the hiking trails in Deer Valley are impressively maintained and well marked. It's very difficult to get lost while on a trail. However, it's always a good idea to carry a trail map (they're available for free at most resorts).
Silver Lake Trail
Easily my favorite hike was to nearby Silver Lake Village. From Montage Deer Valley, it was a 60-minute mostly flat trail with lots of shade thanks to the many trees. The path is shared with the occasional small group of mountain bikers, but they are very self-aware and courteous in terms of letting you know they are coming and leaving room for you on the path.
Upon reaching Silver Lake Village, there are restrooms and opportunities to buy food and drinks. You can also inquire about other summer activities, such as mountain biking which is very popular at Silver Lake in particular. Chairlift tickets can also be purchased if you choose to ascend the mountain in the easiest way possible. The chairlift is a scenic ride that takes you to the very top of the 9,400-foot tall Bald Mountain. The views up here are breathtaking, offering stunning views of the Jordanelle Reservoir and Uinta Mountains.
From the top of Bald Mountain, you can take other hiking trails if you wish to continue exploring. Or you can opt for the 2-mile hike down, which includes a 1,300 vertical decline. Or you can simply hop on the chairlift to get back to the bottom in minutes.
The Ontario Trail is another popular hiking option that starts from Silver Lake Village. This trail winds along the west side of Bald Mountain, offering very different views than the Silver Lake Trail. It eventually terminates at the top of Bald Mountain at 9,400 feet.
For more great hikes, look to nearby Flagstaff Mountain. This 9,100-foot mountain can be accessed by foot via the Red Cloud Trail or by the Ruby Express chairlift.
Altitude Sickness Alert
Summer weather in Utah is phenomenal, with daytime temperatures usually in the high seventies and nights and much cooler nights. However, Utah is very dry and at a high elevation (the third highest state in the USA) of 6,100 feet. This can cause varying degrees of altitude sickness, so be sure to take it easy while doing any physical exercise.