The Lifts Are Turning At Snowbird, Utah

Jul 23, 2014 at 12:13
by Steven Lloyd  
Opening of snowbirds new trail

Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort is celebrating the grand opening of its new mountain biking trail – Big Mtn. Trail. The trail will officially open for the public Monday, July 14, at 11:30 a.m. At seven-and-a-half miles and an average grade of eight percent, it is one of the longest, continuous trails in Utah, with breathtaking views from Gad Valley.

The Snowbird Big Mtn. Trail, which was designed and constructed by Utah-based Alpine Trails, starts at the top of the Snowbird Tram (11,000 feet) and traverses much of the Gad Valley area, going through beautiful wooded glades, open awe-inspiring meadows and challenging rocky terrain.

snowbirds new trail


“The Big Mtn. Trail is one of the most scenic and varied trails we have built,” said Ben Blitch, president of Alpine Trails. “The trail is also extremely long and varied. It will be fun for experts and intermediates alike with different aspects, views and terrain. It has five different personalities, which is what makes it such an awesome trail.”

Snowbird and Alpine Trails worked in partnership with the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest to create a trail that was both exciting and fun, while respecting viewsheds, watershed concerns and natural areas. The trail was built and will be maintained using mountain bike industry best management practices.

snowbirds new gad valley trail

Snowbird Utah

The Big Mtn. Trail is open to bi-directional riding until 11 a.m., at which time the Tram opens and the trail becomes one-way downhill only. The Tram will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. for mountain biking.

Snowbird offers a variety of mountain biking instruction for all levels of riding. Although the new trail is classified as an intermediate trail and is recommended for riders with some mountain biking experience, Snowbird does offer a variety of cross country loops at the base of the mountain that are more suited for beginners.

snowbirds new gad valley trail

snowbirds new tail

A day pass for mountain biking off the Tram is $29 per day. A Snowbird mountain biking season pass is $125. 2013-14 and 2014-15 Snowbird season pass holders may purchase a mountain biking all-day pass in July for $10 a day. A season pass holder upgrade including mountain biking is $99 per season. Snowbird also offers a full fleet of 2014 specialized dual suspension mountain bikes to rent through Snowbird Sports. Instruction and tours are available. Snowbird All-Day Activity Passes can be upgraded for $10 to include mountain biking. Mountain scooters will not be allowed on Big Mtn. Trail, and it is closed to hiking after 11 a.m.

For more information about mountain biking at Snowbird go to or call (801) 933-2418.


  • 28 3
 Unfortunately Snowbird came up short on there first attempt at a downhill trail. There is absolutely no flow to this trail. You get going fast and then have to crank a 180 switchback in the loosest rocks you've ever been in. They half-assed parts of the trail and put pallets down for some wood sections, and half of the boards are already broken after a week. Luckily I only had to pay $10 since I have a winter seasons pass, but it is definitely not worth $29. One ride was enough for me. I know it's there first trail and they say there is more to come, but it is a disappointing start. I especially don't like how they are calling it a big mountain trail. It is a choppy, technical, cross-country trail that happens to be all downhill for 7 miles. It is a bit misleading for people that think there will be jumps and big mountain features. There are some rollers in spots, but overall the trail lacks the flow to make it exciting.
  • 9 2
 I couldn't agree more. Same situation, I live very close to The Bird and have a seasons pass for skiing so I though i would try it out. Its not worth $29 AT ALL!!!! The only thing about this that's cool is the fact now if you want to pay for it you can ride from Hidden Peak catch White Pine then drop back in for the DH section of LCC so now you get a 15 mile ride give or take.
  • 11 3
 Rule of thumb: Don't let people design trails if they cannot ride themselves. I see this happen far too often but then again, I'll be riding this trail for the first time Fri. so won't be assuming for long. It sucks if that's true though because there's so much potential up there. Although I wouldn't consider "flow" (easily making your way down without pedaling, completely buffed out trails) as a top priority of a good MTB trail. In regards to the many switchbacks, not surprising because that's how just about every trail is like out here, haha.
  • 8 0
 I think these are the same builders who helped rough cut the lines in at Ogden Bike Park. They came in the middle of the summer when the ground was super dry, dozed a path and left! NO actual effort to actually make the trails flowy and fun to ride! I don't understand how you can take on a project of this caliber and not create something that people actually want to ride!
  • 5 2
 That trail smacked my ass. You would be a champ to lap it twice. The flow wasnt there. The main problem is the terrain they are building in. Its some of the roughest stuff out there.
  • 1 0
 Yeti- maybe that was partially due to Snowbird being in the middle of a deal with the Cumming family. They simply didn't give a crap about putting in too much money into a trail that would serve no benefit to them. It's starting to make a tad bit of sense now.
  • 4 0
 Snowbird has just blown up in the past few years; money is flowing out of their veins like the salmon of Capistrano. (And its very noticable, hence the obsurdly long lift lines and outlandish prices, how can a man get his drink on when he is paying 9$ for pint?! Ill be calling Alta or someplace in BCC my home next winter.) Yet they can’t even contract a descent company to build there only "Big Mountain Trail" (and like has already been stated....this is anything but). The terrain there has soooo much potential. Take a hint from DV right down to road, or hell any of those killer resorts in CO, higher someone who knows what they’re doing, GL. I feel that this is just another rendition of almost all the trails in the SLC valley built by Alpine Trails.....absolute garbage. Those guys can’t build a damn berm or instill flow into a trail if there life’s depended on it. And my apologies if that sounds harsh, but my view is not only my own and this is a prime example. I have a number of friends who were given the opportunity to get a first ride before the actual trail opened, and Volklracer, you hit it spot on. Free wasn’t even a good enough offer to ride it in my opinion.
  • 5 1
 If you're paying $9 for a beer at snowbird you dont know what your doing.
  • 4 1
 ^ hahaha, so true. Even Gritts has cheaper beer than that.
  • 1 0
 Alta has longer lift lines then Snowbird and the next time you want a $3 pint go to the store on the main floor.
  • 3 0
 $5 shot and beer at the Tram Club!
  • 2 0
 You must not visit the bird much, its no longer 5$....its 6$.
But my point was just that its getting way crowded, more expensive, and they have plenty to cash to spend, hopefully next time, on a real trail building company like Gravity Logic.
  • 3 0
 best deal going is $3 tall boys from the convenience store in the snowbird center/tram building, bring em up to the deck, enjoy.
  • 2 0
 @ pinn-king

I have had a pass there the last four years and I live at the mouth of little cottonwood. I visit there alot..see ya on Baldy.
  • 1 0
 I must agree @hatton. Not much better than a tall boy of RedWhitenBlue on the Deck at the bird.

  • 1 2
 Update: Rode and then filmed the trail today (or technically yesterday) and it was awesome. Before I start off, the dirt was perfect as it was tacky and it was randomly raining/sleeting today (yesterday) so the conditions were much better than what you would expect of a trail that is first opened to the public (new trails are absolutely loose when they're first opened, that's to be expected). Regardless it gave a good view of what this trail will eventually be when it's ridden enough. It's really fun and diverse. For those complaining that it wasn't DH enough, it was never advertised as a pure DH trail. A dude who was involved there asked what kind of trail it is and I told him it was perfect for 5-6" AM bikes (the Evo Stumpjumper rent bikes are perfect for this trail and one of the best AM bikes I've ridden to be honest, as my 2010 Trek Scratch became useless of a very recent and unrelated issue). Anyways, that makes me feel that they're just testing the waters and never set a stance on what kinda trail it should be advertised as.

The only real pedally part was the base area of the trail where we bailed out on the access road... which was only a couple hundred feet of trail we skipped on a 7 mile mtb trail. The trail is not for touristy bike riders. It is baby head rough in areas with some short tech sections but there was plenty of smooth trail. The terrain changes as you descend which is unique and there are a few nice surprises on the way down (LCC rock/boulder section replica... not as hard but very similar in style). The nicest, flowiest parts are way too awesome to express and is really worth the recently decreased price to $19 a ticket. Another example of how the Bird is taking your inputs into account. This is just the beginning and they're into some unreal ideas.... the first public legitimate big mountain lines, anyone?
  • 1 2
 As for the issues with the switchbacks, for a 7 mile trail, there were maybe 4 turns I had trouble navigating, one was very sketch to ride around, hairpin mainly. On a trail that long, that is something you don't remember after riding it, especially with the well done effort they put into the other 25+ (not an accurate number, never kept track) turns/berms with a limited time span and budget. There were many berms you had to take fast or high up early to carry good speed through which wasn't easy due to the multiple babyheads or possible looseness but all it took was another run through to get exceptionally better at each one. Sorry for the flooding of opinions but I feel that Snowbird has the right intentions to do something insane but I feel they're getting a lot of flack for something frivolous that may actually affect how bonkers they go with investing in their ideas.
  • 18 1
 Snowbird as a corporation just can't seem to get it. They seem to think they've built a masterpiece of a trail, when in reality it is poorly designed, poorly executed, and just plain poor. As long as they fail to realize they have no idea what they are doing and seek outside help (i.e. Gravity Logic), the results will never be worthwhile.

In the past, I would have said corporation Snowbird would never invest the resources to do something like this properly, but I'm hoping the new majority owners (The Cumming Family) might prove me wrong.

Also, fire Bob Bonar, the worst thing to happen to Snowbird ever, winter or summer.
  • 12 0
 hehe you said bonar
  • 4 13
flag JakeCast (Jul 23, 2014 at 16:32) (Below Threshold)
 nah. brandon semenuk said this trail was the new A-Line. ...or so I heard
  • 14 0
 For people who are saying, come on give them a chance, they have killer winter terrain. Give who a chance? A huge company who failed to invest adequately in to their business?! Why should they get any consolation when there are other places around who are making true strives to dial their mountain in? I get there is a lot of money involved but I can guarantee they did a lot of market research to find out what it truly takes to build a world class trail. They either put their money in the wrong place or failed to truly invest, so far...

The killer winter terrain is a lot to do with happenstance of where their land lies, they did not build this great amazing mountain, the earth and how the weather patterns form have a lot to do with their success.

On top of that, this is a business! I know of half a dozen trails around the bird that were HAND CUT by a few people who did a far better job than a build crew, with machines… the vertical and the potential are there, the vision so far is not.

Here is my synopses of the trail, If you like more moon dust than north star, more switch backs than upper rush (more switch backs that kill flow than you can shake a stick at), Like 4' rollers that are just begging you to pop off them, but have zero landing, and enjoy trails that are rough enough for a DH bike but seem to have a mindset built around "enduro " then you will love this trail.

If this sounds like it might not be fun, then you should just shuttle the trail that is just down the canyon from it, cause it is far more fun so far.

Honestly, I don't want another bike park like canyons, they have that locked down around here and will continue to make rad bike park trails. I want techy/ gnar DH, which the bird has the environment for, but just not this trail right now.
  • 5 0
 Well said. For a resort that put $350k into environmental impact studies before they ever broke ground, you would think they'd have researched the MTB needs of the area and their target market, which didn't happen until it was too late. At least they have a huge valley to work with, I guess? Hopefully the next trail that goes in will be better planned and thought out... Wink
  • 15 0
 i want to jump out of that tram so bad...
  • 9 0
 I really hope that Snowbird can get their shit together after this summer and realize that anything worth doing is doing right by hiring a GOOD trail company and making an actual investment in the MTB community instead of just trying to exploit a growing market. Glad to see more trails going in, disappointed by the lack of brain matter or diplomacy used in the decisions pertaining to this trail.
  • 6 0
 snowbird has a few trails that would be super fun for riding bikes on: the ridge trail, mineral basin/connector for example… too bad they are hiking only.

of course their hiring of alpine trails yielded an expensive, barely fun, not better than when they started result (see the updates to draper DH).

snowbird easily has the terrain and vert to be the best bike destination in the US. easily. don;t get why they haven't bothered to do it for real.

in case you don't get it, great bike destinations are built via epic single track (see: park city, winter park, whistler) not "my first flow trail" flat, lame sidewalks.
  • 5 0
 Glad I'm not the only one in the camp of people who didn't really dig the trail. I thought I'd be reading reviews about how much people loved it and there was something wrong with me. It was rough enough for a DH bike but too pedally for one. It almost seemed like Alpine Trails crew came in and cut the trail and then that was it, no work done after the machines.....Maybe it will get better as people ride it, I guess it can't get any worse. Lots of the switchbacks were too tight and the grade needed to be a few degrees steeper and I think people would have liked it more. A trail crew walking the entire thing just one time and tossing all the loose baby head rocks that are in the trail wouldn't have hurt either.......
  • 6 1
 As a professional trail builder I think that shit loooks sooo bad. By no mean is this best practices, unless your trying to just do as little as you can and get paid so you can get out of there. I bet they spend around 100k on that trail. The 4th picture down really show how bad it really is, 8% with stacked switchback just sucks.
  • 7 3
 The problem is it's $29 for a day pass, which essentially gets you access to one bike trail (the "Big Mountain Trail"). I'd rather pay $10 and shuttle Crest, or $32 for a day pass at the Canyons. Snowbird needs to try so much harder in the summer. They've got shit on lock in the winter, but they suck so much in the summer.
  • 6 0
 100%. Big Rack shuttles offers a Crest Trail season pass for $100.
  • 5 3
 Exactly my thought!!! I'd much rather pay that money to shuttle a better trail. All my friends say the trail at snowbird is pretty meh
  • 6 2
 What did you really expect from a resort that rents Diggler's to take down the trail? They have absolutely no clue what a flow trail is or should be.
  • 3 9
flag scott-townes (Jul 23, 2014 at 17:55) (Below Threshold)
 FUCK OFF! DIGGLERS ARE AWESOME! But really though, they're insanely fun to rip in a stupid sorta way... and if you have nothing else to use, haha. Got a few pics from messing around on one and you can send those suckers if you wanted.
  • 9 6
 The trail has good and bad aspects just like every trail. There is a lot of potential here and to give up on them after only a few months and one trail would be a shame. I've spent a good amount of time on this trail and it only gets faster and better as time passes. Given the difficult terrain they had to work with, the trail builders did a great job. Yay bikes, yay progress.
  • 5 2
 While no one is talking about 'giving up' on the Bird, there is definitely a certain amount of hell that will be given as part of the growing pains process. However, I do admire your optimism and the positive spin. Wink
  • 3 0
 If only they could see what the bike park here in Whistler has done economically for the town during summer months. Crankworx is now the biggest event and draws more people and makes more money than The World Ski and Snowboard Festival in the winter. We have no shortage of XC/Enduro trails all over the valley, but the bike park is the bike park, pure DH with steep tech, flow trails and jump lines. Snowbird is missing out on a huge demographic and potential for growth. There is a reason why the guys from Gravity Logic like Tom Pro, who built a lot of the trails here, or Joyride / Paddy Kaye get contracted to go build trails at Retallack or all over the USA like Steamboat, Snowmass etc. They have been doing it for 15-20 years and know the ins and outs of bike park specific trails. Oh well, just means more business for the resorts that are investing in true "bike park" experiences instead of more uphill/downhill XC trails with alternative tram access. Seems like such an awesome opportunity for economic and community growth that fell drastically short.
  • 3 1
 People want quality trails that are fun to ride! Just because you have a lift doesn't mean people wanna ride your trails! I would rather hike-a-bike at the local trails than ride here...
  • 3 1
 I've never seen a first year bike park have the standards of an 8 year park, but hearing that tram is open for DH bikes is just plain COOL!! You gotta get fresh breathable air in SLC somehow!
  • 3 0
 I bought a season pass at Deer Valley, not regretting it at all. Nice try, Snowbird. Looking forward to your double blacks, though!! I need to poop my pants.
  • 7 3
 This trail looks absolutely awful
  • 3 0
 Lake tahoe Rim trail is amazing.
  • 3 4
 I wanna go for just for those views. There is more to the ride than the trail IMO. With some fresh greens, a good camera, and awesome rocky landscapes, I wouldn't give two sh*ts about trail not "flowing" cause I'd be stopping to take pictures, get baked, and enjoy myself every five minutes anyways!
  • 2 1
 I love your outlook.
  • 1 3
 It is not on outlook--but rather an "inlook"--that I hope the speed demons of the world can stop for a moment to think about.

If speed and flow are the concerns, then perhaps road bikes would be more suitable.
  • 1 0
 To Sum up this trail:

Its like the grand opening of an overhyped restaurant serving overpriced shitty food to out of town tourists...good luck with that.
  • 2 0
 Speaking of Snowbird, when is Solitude going to pull it together, it's like they sort of started building then stopped?
  • 3 1
 A train out of that would be so sick
  • 1 0
 To Sum up this trail:

Its like the grand opening of an overhyped restaurant serving overpriced shitty food to out of town tourists...good luck with that.
  • 5 3
 Looks like fun. But they could expand the trail network more.
  • 4 6
 Well you could have nothing aka Iowa? I picture them riding in corn fields... or you could be glad you have a trail to ride let alone a lift. Why not write/email and input suggestions to them instead of complaining on pinkbike?
  • 8 1
 Multiple emails, phone calls and even discussions with the builders and crew as it was going in and being cut yielded ZERO result... The downhill and MTB community here in Utah put such an effort into creating something good and positive, and we were pretty much told to bugger off after being pulled in by the resort to get used for our ideas.

This trail was the mind baby of an aging, out-of-touch mountain president who refuses to work with anyone or take advice from people who know better, and a trails company that shouldn't necessarily be building MTB trails who also underbid the project (among other things). A lot of bad decisions were made to create this problem, and it wasn't just one issue.

The management team at Snowbird was directly told they could charge a solid amount for season passes and day tickets, but ONLY if the trail was 'done right'. It seems they forgot that part of the advice and simply decided to price gouge an open and eager market, which is disappointing.
  • 1 0
 So if this sucks.... what is the best flow trail in utah? Flying Dog?
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