A Beginner’s Guide to Local Mountain Biking


Photo by Kelly Loutzenheiser

Dan Belding

Many people face apprehension when attempting to learn the ropes of a new outdoor sport. Some activities such as climbing or skiing require a great deal of learning and practice as they involve unfamiliar skills that need to be developed. On top of the unfamiliarity, many outdoor activities come with a great financial burden. However, those looking to broaden their horizons and try something new this spring should absolutely consider mountain biking.

Mountain biking can be easily adapted to one’s skill level, whether it’s their first time or they’re a seasoned veteran and know the trails by heart. After all, we have all heard the timeless adage, “you never forget how to ride a bike.” Of course, the first step is securing a bike fit for the trails. As you build your abilities, a highly specialized and customized bike may be necessary, but for a beginner a basic bike will suffice. A quick search through KSL or Craigslist can turn up numerous suitable beginner mountain bikes for $300 or less.

Once you’re ready to hit the trails there are many amazing options for all abilities located within or near the Salt Lake Valley. In terms of beginner and novice options, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail tends to be a favorite for those looking to test the waters–the  Salt Lake City to Parley’s Canyon portion of the trail is a great option. Luckily, numerous trailheads lead into the trail if you’re not committed to the full ride of multiple miles. After you gain comfort on the trails, some intermediate spots include the Bobsled Trail (an offshoot of Bonneville Shoreline) and Mueller Park in Bountiful.

Of course, if you’re looking for professionally maintained trails and a wider variety of terrain all in one day, many of the Utah ski resorts offer mountain biking in the off season. Both Park City and Snowbird offer a number of trails located right on the resort spanning from novice to expert–and don’t worry, the chairlifts can take your bike up the mountain for you. You do have to pay to ride the trails, but a day pass will run you no more than $30. Resort riding is certainly far more crowded than the trails in the city but allows a broad mix of varying difficulty and numerous laps up and down the mountain. Not to mention, various clinics run throughout the summer at each resort can help ease beginners into the sport.

Whether you’re looking for some fresh air and exercise or simply just a new way to pass the time, mountain biking is an activity which is easy to pick up, and even easier to get hooked on!