Get out of town for the day
The 5.6-mile directional loop trail starts from the Yellow Pine Trailhead about 7.5 miles outside of Kamas on the Mirror Lake Highway. You’ll need to either display a National Park Pass in your car or pay the day fee at the self-service kiosk across Mirror Lake Highway. The trail starts in the sun but as it climbs into the trees there are more shady sections making it a good ride to escape the hot summer temps in Salt Lake City. Most of the 900 feet of climbing is in the first half and it becomes more rolling up for a short distance beginning after 1.9 miles. Besides a stream crossing and a handful of short rock gardens on the second half, it is not a technical ride. The surface is mostly smooth and dusty in places.
The ride through pines and the aspens is scenic. The descent is quick with options to add jumps off to the side. Don’t worry, for those of us who like to keep our wheels on the ground, it is hard to end up on a jump. There are no big berms or sharp switchbacks so it is accessible to a wide variety of riders from beginner to advanced. Although the terrain is not challenging, climbing at elevation beginning immediately without a warmup adds a bit of difficulty. Warning: watch for cows in the last half mile or so. Want a workout? Do the loop twice or three times.
We also did a short out and back to explore the Beaver Creek Trail. It is across country ski trail in the winter and is really a forest service road. Other than the first mile or so, it is open to ATVs but on our ride we saw just two. It begins at the same trailhead but across the street and goes for miles and miles. We just did a short out and back to check out the conditions for a future ride.
Thinking….Gravel Bike???? It might be an option. There were some rocky sections but nothing a good gravel bike (and rider) can’t handle. It is a tough choice because the descent on the mountain bike with suspension was nice. Definitely on the short list of rides to escape the heat!
For more trail options in the Unitas check out www.southsummittrails.org