North American Bike Park Review Tour
Deer Valley Bike Park
Photos by Dusten LaPointe
Deer Valley, Utah is known as one of the most luxurious and elite ski resorts in the Western United States, with miles of terrain, an Olympic park and some of the best snow around. In the summer, Deer Valley transitions into a mountain bike park with 70 miles of trails leading back down to the lift. If you like to pedal and explore, you’ll be happy to know you can also access over 400 miles of other singletrack in the mountains above Park City and Deer Valley. The lifts first started carrying mountain bikers back in 1992, making Deer Valley Bike Park one of the oldest lift accessed bike parks in North America. Many of the trails date back to that era, and some of them ride like it too. Deer Valley has teamed up with Gravity Logic and their own trail crew to make big strides in recent years however. There are several new modern style flow trails, green trails and even a black jump trail to compliment some of the old school tech this mountain is known for. Of course, they’ve also made tweaks to some of the black tech trails that made them our favorites, while others are definitely in need of some flow improvements.
With 3,000 feet of descending per lap, the 24 trails on the mountain are accessed by two main chair lifts (and one connector lift). The lower half, which is accessed from Snow Park Lodge via the Silver Lake Express and Homestake Express lifts offer fewer trails that are a bit more natural aside from one brand new Gravity Logic flow trail.
The upper Sterling Express lift begins at the upper Silver Lake Village and provides access to the upper trail network. This upper section is where the bulk of the trails reside, like the green trail Holy Roller. It also houses plenty of blue flow, tech, and the advanced jump trail, Tsunami. This upper lift is also where riders can link into the 400 miles of additional singletrack terrain without having to pedal to the top of the ridge under their own power. Even though it isn’t officially part of the bike park, many of these trails offer incredible views and some of the best singletrack riding in Utah. Be warned that they don’t end up at the lift though. You’ll have to get home under your own power! Check out the full map here.
If you’re sticking to the park alone, true beginners only have one green trail, called Holy Roller. It is a wide, mellow trail that leads you around expansive summit vistas and down into the trees before ending up back at the lift. As far as green trails are concerned, it’s very welcoming, but still has small features like rollers and berms to let riders get their feet wet.
The next step after Holy Roller are the blue trails that have a slightly steeper grade and more pronounced features and tighter corners. Blue options range from wide flow, jump trails, to meandering single track through the aspens like Super G. At low speed, Super G is a mellow, meandering trail. Crank up the speed though and it turns into a thrilling ride even for advanced riders.
The other two popular trails are Tidal Wave, a blue jump trail, and the black jump trail called Tsumani. We have a full POV video run on Tsunami here. Both trails give riders a chance to ride extensive jumps and berms, with no gaps or high stakes features. Both trails are also part of a recent effort to modernize the park with new school trails built by Gravity Logic.
This year, Gravity Logic finished a brand new blue trail on the lower mountain called Undertow. We have a full trail preview of that trail here. Tsunami is a solid jump trail for advanced riders, with jumps similar in size to A-line at Whistler Bike Park. Some of the larger jumps and shark fins out of berms will keep advanced riders happy, but a couple sections of trail could benefit from some alternative lines and better speed management to reduce braking bumps from beginner riders. We also found inconsistencies in jump sizes as you worked your way down the trail. Just as you’d be building speed after hitting a few larger jumps a small jump would appear requiring speed adjustment and trail reading skills to avoid flat landings.
While some of the construction was top notch, we felt a few areas could use some improvements. There were definitely a few issues on the newly built Undertow. On average, it’s a solid trail with plenty of fun to be had. It’s a pretty mellow pitch that keeps riders off the brakes however we didn’t love the steep, blind rollers. Beyond the steepness of the rollers, which we found problematic for inexperienced riders and others who were carrying a lot more momentum, there were with sharp drainage edges on the backside of the rollers that could easily take riders out if they’re just a couple inches off line. The trail transitioned from being pretty mellow and fun to having steep, sharp radius switchbacks, where we encountered several beginners sliding on their butts down the steep, downhill berms. No doubt it was a struggle building the trail down such a steep mountain, but after watching several beginners feeling a bit overwhelmed in the steep turns, it may be something to note if you are taking newer riders down this trail.
The majority of the other trails on the mountain are technical, raw black trails. Many date back to the 90’s, or at least feel that way. While we love natural trails, some felt like they needed revisions to flow to keep up with modern bikes and riding styles. Aspen Slalom was a trail we thought looked great from the lift and had an enticing name to match. After dropping in we pretty quickly regretted our decision. Let’s just say it’s not on our “Must Hit” list.
One trail that kept us excited and coming back for more however, was NCS. Each lap we looked to perfect our lines to gain speed and gap obstacles. It is a rocky, loose trail with some root sections thrown in for good measure. It snakes through trees with steep sections and plenty of gnarly, challenging tech. If you like rocks, roots, blazing through aspen trees and beautiful views— Deer Valley has lots to offer. If you’re gonna stay for a while bring an extra rear tire and some brake pads.