Mount Helena Ridge Trail … Day 3… Riding with Eric
Eric said the Mount Helena Ridge Trail was the quintessential trail for the city. He thought we should ride the whole thing … from south to north. Eric had to work until 3:00, then had a few errands to run, so we decided to ride at 4:00. But as our meeting time grew close Eric called me and asked if I could meet him at his condo … he was fixing his brakes.
His condo turned out to be up Grizzly Gulch Road, the road we were going to be riding anyway. The ride from the Holiday Inn (where I was staying) to Eric’s place took at most 5 minutes.
Length: 12.99 miles
When I arrived, Eric had the pads out of his Shimano XT’s, and was rubbing them with sandpaper. Then he wiped something on them and stuck them back into the calipers. I told him my brakes (exactly the same model as his) had howled for the past 6 weeks when I got the bike new. My front brakes howled even after I released the lever!
Eric packed a lock (we planned on visiting Blackfoot River Brewing after the ride) and then we started up the Grizzly Gulch Road.
As we cruised up the dirt road, we passed several mining operations … some old, and some still active. He told me we had about 6 miles of riding to get to the trailhead.
He said he hoped that some day riders could ride up to the Helena Mountain Ridge Trail without having to ride up Grizzly Gulch Road (they can use The Trail Rider shuttle to get there during the summer months).
When we rolled into Park City I didn’t even realize it. I had seen Park City written on the map and expected to see something resembling the resort in northern Utah, but what I saw was … nothing! I didn’t see a single building, parking lot, ski lift, a city, or a park. This “imaginary” Park City sits (or doesn’t sit) at 4,778 feet in elevation, so we had climbed about 850 feet in a little under 5 miles.
Next we turned right onto Prospector Gulch Road, which we followed for about a quarter mile before we found the Mount Helena Ridge trailhead at 4,949 feet. It had taken us 53:31 to reach the trailhead.
Mount Helena Ridge Trail … Interactive Map.
- The blue “P” marks the Trailhead.
- Click GPX for a track of this ride.
Have you biked on the Mount Helena Ridge Trail before? What did you think of it? How about sharing your thoughts on our Visitor Stories page?
I gulped a little water and caught my breath while taking some photos behind us to the south. I love the contrast between the dark green conifer forest and the radiant gold leaves of aspens.
I also took pictures of my second favorite contrast in nature, dark conifers and golden-brown grasses, which lay up the trail to the north. Although not as spectacular in color, I find the difference in texture just as interesting.
Just because we were on the trail doesn’t mean we quit climbing. Eric had insisted I lead, so I did my best. Eric was riding a Banshee, a heavier, all-mountain bike. I was riding my Specialized Camber (more of a cross country bike) and had been doing more rides the past few weeks, so I should have been better on the climbing. But I’ve found I am slow to adapt to higher elevations (I live at 267 feet elevation).
We finally topped out at 5,560 feet … 6.74 miles into the ride. After doing a little math I figured we had climbed 1,638 feet to get to some downhill trails … but what a nice, long drop we had in front of us!
The Mount Helena Ridge Trail was a series of long gradual down slopes and shorter, steeper climbs … kind of like the teeth on a dull, 5-mile saw blade. The tip of each “tooth” was thickly covered with trees while everything else was clad in a 2-foot high blanket of golden-brown grass.
As we sat in the shade of the trees Eric got some knee pads strapped on, we both lowered our seats, and we softened our shocks. Eric, who had assumed the lead position, looked me straight in the eyes and asked if I was ready. After I gave him thumbs up he turned around, pushed hard on a pedal and sped away.
I followed Eric out of the trees, accelerated down an 8-inch wide thread of dirt through golden grasses, sped across flat meadows at the bottom, and then pedaled like crazy … trying to keep up enough speed to enter the trees on the next tooth without having to downshift and grind it out.
I usually caught up to Eric before he would enter the trees on the next tooth. If not, I would usually find him waiting at the top or some other place he figured I might want to get a photo (and there were plenty of views). We would then start the whole routine over again.
We rode by the junctions to Emmet’s, Show Me the Horse, and South Dump (trails that drop down to Grizzly Gulch Road) before coming to a large intersection of paths … the end of the Mount Helena Ridge Trail.
Eric said we had several ways to get down to the bottom, he preferred the Prairie Trail. But, we had to ride up a short West End Trail in order to get onto the Prairie Trail, which dropped us quickly down around the front of Mount Helena, where we were treated to a wonderful view of the city down below.
Below you will find the video taken all along the Mount Helena Ridge Trail.
After locking our bikes we entered a bustling business to the bar, where we waited for a server. As luck would have it, we were served by Timmy Wiseman, my mountain bike guide from the previous day! Timmy gave us a couple of stamps each and we were all set for some fun … not as much fun as racing down the Mount Helena Ridge Trail, but a nice way to finish off a wonderful day.
The following information was collected by my Garmin 800 Edge … taking readings every second. Feel free to upload the track to your GPS unit by clicking the View Details at the bottom and then Export in the top menu bar.
Where To Go From Here
Select Day 1 … Grizzly Gulch to see another trail in the Helena area.
Select Day 2 … Timmy Guides Me on another ride in the Helena area.
Day 3 … Mount Helena Ridge.
Select Day 4 … South Hills Adventure to read of an incredible journey in the South Hills.
Select Helena Mountain Biking for an overview of rides in this area.