Park City MTB & Trail News

Spiro Identity Crisis

Spiro Trail Park City

It’s time to Make Spiro Trail Directional


Disclaimer: This post is likely to ruffle some feathers. So before we go any further, let’s get a couple things straight. We’re absolutely not advocating any of the following: 1) That all trails should be directional and/or 2) That regardless of whether a trail is directional or not, people throw caution and etiquette to the wind and ride beyond a safe level. We are all responsible for not only our own personal safety, but our fellow man’s/woman’s.

Spiro Trail is a Park City classic, and for good reason. The trail is accessible from town and makes for an efficient pre-work, mid-day, or post-work ride as well offers incredible scenery as it winds through the aspen groves above Old Town. It’s one of those trails that was built more than a decade ago, yet still has a natural rhythm that’s as fast and buttery as even the most well-engineered flow trails. Spiro trail simply begs to be ridden at speed, and floods one with a dopamine burst that makes even the most considerate of riders a bit too thirsty for the throttle.

However, given it’s proximity and popularity, it’s also a breeding ground for conflict and/or potential injury as there currently are an array of mixed signals being sent to trail users. For instance, there’s this wonderfully graded uphill only trail (Armstrong) cut right to the top of a perfectly fast and flowy descent (Spiro). Newly constructed berms on Spiro only enable users to ride faster. Furthermore, there are signs at the entrance encouraging all uphill and foot traffic to use Armstrong, yet we still maintain that the trail is multi-directional. Am I crazy or is this like cutting up lines in front of an addict and wondering why they can’t stay clean? It’s just not good judgement on part of anyone involved.

Go ahead and blame Strava, poor trail etiquette, or modern mountain bike technology all you want, but the reality is these are all non sequiturs serving as handy excuses for those looking to skirt the core of the matter. It’s akin to blaming Obamacare for Donald Trump. In truth, you could take away all of the above, and people would still ride the trail too fast – it’s just that kind of trail. This doesn’t make it OK to ride out of control, nor are we suggesting that downhill riders carrying-on at excessively high-speeds be immune from responsibility, but at some point we have to make up our minds as to what kind of experience we want to promote and offer consistent signals or policy which encourage such behavior.

Park City is simply not the same town it was ten years ago, where, if you saw a dozen people on the trail, it was considered a busy day. If you’ve ridden Mid-Mountain on a Saturday recently, then you know what I’m talking about. With Outside Magazine Best Town awards, IMBA Gold Level Ride Area designations, and million dollar Visit Utah ad campaigns, for better or worse, comes change – and if there’s anything that history has repeatedly demonstrated, it’s that those who resist change are only delaying the inevitable. Given Spiro’s accessibility and reputation, it’s simply too highly trafficked of a trail to remain multi-directional, and it’s only a matter of time before significant injury, or even death, occurs as a result of such indecision on part of land managers.

With all that said, we understand the challenge faced by those tasked with maintaining our trails. It’s no accident or by dumb luck that Park City is a world-class destination and we can only imagine the level of diplomacy it must take in ensuring that everyone gets along. It’s not our intention to criticize or suggest a failure in leadership, but instead be a voice for change and continued progress in promoting a first-class trail and cycling culture.

We’d love to hear your opinion on the matter as well – chime in with your thoughts in the comments below.

About the author

Alex

Alex is a designer by trade & mid-grade adventurer by night who’s quite partial to knobby tired bikes, clean design, & dirty hands. When not updating this silly website, he's likely off exploring the nearby hills with a few of his favorite partners in crime.

6 Comments

  • I think this is a great idea. Spiro has an super cool flow when riding downhill. It does really suck when there are peeps coming up…they get pretty pissed too.
    Let’s doit! Make Spiro a downhill only trail!!!

  • I have been saying the exact same thing. I have almost had countless run ins with uphill traffic even being cautious! 110% agree with the berm comment. You do not install berms on sweeping corners and expect anyone to slow down! This trail is ridden as a downhill. Armstrong is up. End of story!!!

  • You’ve got my vote. Spiro should be directional for downhill riders. The directional policy on Armstrong has worked great! And while you’re at it, I would suggest the same thing for Rusty Shovel in Round Valley.

  • I rode Armstrong-HAM-Spiro for the first time when I was in town for work last week. Awesome ride. Totally agree with you. I almost ran right into a biker on the downhill. If Armstrong is uphill then make Spiro downhill.

  • That bottom section was redesigned to allow better control of speed. It’s how a purpose built mtb switchback should look. A slight uphill to allow speed to be scrubbed off then into to a sweeping berm. I don’t love Spiro like others do. I only ride it as a convenient way down. It’s brake bump city but I think it should be downhill only. With Armstrong right there it only makes sense. I feel like those who ride up it don’t know any better or are looking for confrontation.

  • I used to love Armstrong as an uphill ride. Now you would have to be insane or naive to ride it uphill. If you catch it early season it is a great downhill before all the brake bumps take over. Rental bikes should come with anti-lock brakes!

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