The WOW Trail (Wasatch Over Wasatch) is a fairly new singletrack, located just outside the town of Midway on the Wasatch Back. It connects Wasatch Mountain State Park to Hardy Lake near Deer Valley in 9.2 miles. Completed in the autumn of 2015, the WOW Trail has quickly become a favorite for mountain bikers looking for a serious climbing workout, or as a long, downhill shuttle ride.
The WOW Trail begins in Pine Canyon at a trailhead located just beyond the Wasatch Mountain State Park campground at an elevation of 6,150 feet. There is a large parking area with a kiosk and trail markers. To park here requires an annual State Parks Pass or $7 day fee. After paying at the kiosk, cross the road (SR 222) to the trail that heads into a forest of scrub oak.
The ride begins by crossing a wood bridge over Pine Creek, then heads uphill via several switchbacks onto a ridge. Ignore the smaller trails that intersect and stay on the obvious, larger WOW Trail. These smaller trails are just hiking paths that are popular with campers staying at the park.
Once on the ridge, the trail enters an exposed, dry area that is brutal riding in the hot summer sun. However, you can enjoy views of the park below. Up and up the trail goes, and the grade is pretty relentless with few flat sections to catch your breath. The nice thing, though, is that the switchbacks consist of sculpted berms that make the climbing around corners really easy.
Eventually, the trail enters evergreen forests with nice shade, then climbs up into aspen groves as you gain elevation. Overall, there are few clusters of trees on the entire 9-mile stretch, but the trail builders were thoughtful enough to link then together to maximize shade.
About 8 miles into the ride, the trail tops out at its highest elevation at 8,350 feet. Here, it goes down through a really fun, flowing section to SR 222 near Lake Hardy where riders are dropped off for shuttle rides. If you’re doing an out-and-back, it’s an easy climb back to the high point for a rollicking descent down the WOW trail.
About that down – don’t expect a flow trail. The descent is utilitarian with a few smooth, fast sections and rocky parts to keep things interesting. But the amount of switchbacks really keep you from going very fast overall, even though they have berms. While the descent is fun, it’s also a lot of work, to the point that I’ve decided that the WOW Trail is better as an ascent than a descent. The good news is that there are plans to build a flow trail in the bottom of the canyon that will be much more fun for gravity riders.
The WOW Trail is a great new addition to the Wasatch mountain biking scene. It’s a great climb and decent downhill with some of the best views of the Wasatch Back. As of this writing, the trail is almost a year old and has packed down and smoothed out considerably. Future plans may connect the top of the WOW Trail to Guardsman Pass going one way, and possibly to the Bowman Trail at Deer Valley the other way. Making these connections would link the Wasatch Back to the Wasatch Front, making the “Wasatch Over Wasatch” live up to its name.
To get to the WOW Trail from Salt Lake City, take I-80 east beyond the Park City exit to Highway 40. Go south toward Heber City. Just before driving into town after passing the Jordanelle Reservoir Dam, turn right on River Road. Follow River Road beyond Dutch Hollow Canyon to a traffic circle. Go right on 1050 North, then turn right onto Pine Canyon Road. Follow this road up beyond the Wasatch Mountain State Park campground and park at the large parking lot on the right side of the road. The trailhead is located here.