There are dozens of trails all over Park City. Hundreds of miles of carefully curated paths wind in, around, and through every corner of town.
They range in challenge from flat, paved circuits to hilly knots of bare earth. One popular trail, Wasatch Crest, takes in 20 miles of picturesque terrain along the top of the crest between Park City and Big Cottonwood Canyon. Beloved by riders, this beautiful trail can be hard to access. Guardsman Pass provides entry to the trail system by way of a notorious stretch of trail known to locals as “Puke Hill.”
Puke Hill is an infamous local challenge, a half-mile section of loose gravel road that proves a brutal start to an amazing trail. Puke Hill is, itself, mostly an access road that allows the servicing of equipment at a nearby tower. The road has since been coopted to also allow access to the Wasatch Crest trail for anyone brave enough to take on Puke Hill.
The hill itself is a 0.6-mile length with a pair of switchbacks and an overall grade of 13%, though that jumps to 20% in select spots. It is the crucible in which riders burn before being allowed the privilege of taking the Wasatch Crest. Most riders start the hill in good faith, expecting a tough, but manageable, slog to the top. Unfortunately, most riders underestimate the difficulty, and end up walking their bikes most of the way. Those who do manage to power through have often repeated the action that gives the trail its name. More than a few stomachs have been emptied over the intense uphill climb.
For some cycling enthusiasts, taking the hill quickly is a competitive affair. Strava, a sort of cycling social media site and stat tracker, records top times from riders’ attempts to tackle the incline. Even though the average completion time for the short stretch is a lengthy 15 minutes, the record holder at the time of writing managed to race up to the crest in under four—an impressive feat by any estimation.
For the rest of us, Puke Hill stands as a defiant challenge, daring us to ascend to Wasatch Crest before enjoying the incredible views from the top. It is an infamous hill, and a sweaty, difficult warm-up for those who want to enjoy the rest of the trail.
Virtually Experience Puke Hill
(Video credit: Caleb Woolard)