Mountain Trails Foundation opens new high-tech downhill-only trail
One of the first trails built to access Park City Mountain – the Spiro trail - will undergo big changes next spring with the official unveiling of the highly-anticipated Seldom Seen trail last Friday.
Spiro trail, accessed from the First Time parking lot at the base of Park City Mountain, as well as from the Silver Star plaza, was built nearly 30 years ago – long before mountain biking became the popular sport it is today. For years, it was a smooth, well-maintained trail through the clematis vines in the summer to the autumn foliage in the fall.
But as new directional trails were built to access the upper reaches of the mountain, like Jenni’s and Armstrong, Spiro became the de facto downhill trail. That was the start of the trail’s decline.
30 years ago, trail building technology, bike technology and trail traffic patterns were much different than today. And despite lots of maintenance work on Spiro, Mountain Trails Foundation Executive Director Lora Anthony says it has deteriorated beyond reasonable standards.
The trail is rutted and wash-boarded and the hairpin switchbacks rocky. Lower Spiro, she says, has become a safety concern, as heavy, fast downhill bike traffic was pushed onto a bi-directional, multi-use trail; where conflict between hikers and bikers became an accident waiting to happen.
With the opening of the Seldom Seen trail, Anthony says these will be the last few weeks that lower Spiro can be ridden downhill ever again.
“Spiro will become uphill next spring,” Anthony said. “The reason for that is that we typically are pulling signage out at this point in the game. You know, with the snow coming we've got to pull our signage out so no point in putting new signage in directing people to only go up Spiro. So next spring we're going to officially close Spiro to downhill bikes.”
Upper Spiro will remain bi-directional, as it’s always been. The new Seldom Seen trail will be a downhill bike trail only – no hikers allowed.
“And it’s bike specific, so you can just let it rip,” Anthony said. “It's going to be a great addition to the trail system in that it's going to not only serve the bikes with a fun flowy trail… and I know that a lot of people like Spiro, but it has gotten really chopped up and has degraded over the years. It was built almost 30 years ago, and it has seen its lifetime as a downhill option for mountain bikes.”
Removing downhill bike traffic from Lower Spiro she says will create a safe, hike-friendly zone incorporating Silver Spur, Armstrong and Dawn’s trails.
The new Seldom Seen trail - designed by crew member Chase Smith - sports the newest in trail building technology. As a dedicated bike trail designed specifically for downhill bike traffic, there are high banked turns and rollers to keep the trail in a fast, rideable condition. Seldom Seen also uses a new synthetic technology.
“We’re experimenting with some erosion matting to prevent the erosion in the in the hairpin turns and you know, hoping that that will lengthen the time between overhauls needed so that'll be pretty cool,” Anthony explained.
The new Seldom Seen trail is accessed just downhill of the Spiro/Ham intersection, as Spiro climbs a bit up the hillside of the King Con ski runs.