Looking for the best places to mountain bike with kids around Park City? Last year, our family decided that we were going to learn to mountain bike together - no small feat for a family with five young kids. After trying out so many different trails, we have found our favorites to ride as a family, and I'm thrilled to share them with you.
What skills do kids need to learn to mountain bike?
Many parents that I talk to are scared to mountain bike with their kids or think that they're not good enough riders. Most of the time, that's simply not true. We started our five-year-old on simple mountain bike trails only about six months after learning to ride on the sidewalk of our street.
To be able to mountain bike, kids need to know how to pedal standing up (for those uphill climbs), how to stop gently (so their tires don't skid on the dirt), and how to shift gears if their bike has them comfortably. They don't need a fancy bike with shocks to get started, or even gears - coaster brakes and BMX bikes are suitable for your first few times on the trail. Even our toddler is learning to ride easy mountain bike trails on his balance bike, so mountain biking is something that everyone can do to some extent. The only gear you need is a bike and a helmet!
Since this is likely a new territory, remember to help your kids feel confident about their riding skills. Mountain biking may be a bit outside of their comfort zone, but that doesn't mean it's beyond their ability, so plan on being extra supportive and encouraging.
Best Mountain Bike Trail for Kids in Park City
Round Valley is our go-to for a nice simple ride. The climbs aren't too steep, making the downhill sections perfect for beginning riders.
There is no shade at Round Valley, so avoid it in the heat of the day, or just combine a ride there with a picnic dinner for a cool evening ride. We usually start at the soccer fields right next to the Park City Ice Arena, which is an excellent spot for a picnic before or after our ride. In addition to the large sports fields, there is a playground area, as well as outdoor exercise equipment, which kids always have a blast on.
From the trailhead, the easiest way up Round Valley is on Fast Pitch. The trail is wide and has a gentle slope making that uphill climb a little bit easier. From there, you will find many spurs off of the trail that lead either up or down the mountain. We typically go up until the kids' legs are too tired, and then find a good trail down. Our kid's favorite downhill rides are Downward Dog, Matt's Flat, and Barrell Roll, but there are limitless combinations of loops you can put together at Round Valley for biking with kids.
The RTS trail starts ¼ mile up Olympic Parkway below the Utah Olympic Park. The entire loop is 2.5 miles, so it's a great ride for beginners, and if the kids are feeling confident, it's easy to take more than one lap as well.
RTS is excellent for beginners since it doesn't have many rocks, which helps beginners feel a bit more confident when riding on the dirt. Our kids love it because the trail has lots of good flow sections where they can practice leaning into their turns, or where more confident kids can really get cruising. RTS has some of the most beautiful views of the valley, and you definitely won't complain about the scenery as you ride down among the trees.
After you ride the RTS bike trail, head up to the Utah Olympic Park. You can stop at the free ski museum, or learn about the area's Olympic Legacy with the 2002 Winter Olympics. If you're there on the weekend, make sure to check out the Flying Aces aerial ski team performance, as they twist and turn off the summer ski jumps and land in the swimming pool. It really is one of the best shows in town. You could easily fill the rest of your day here at the Olympic Park with zip lines, a bobsled run, and several different ropes courses, so plan on staying a while.
Trailside is our favorite for families with lots of different biking abilities. Trailside is a bike park with several courses of increasing difficulty. There are two pump tracks there that are great for kids, and even toddlers on balance bikes do well there. You will also find runs that are specifically geared towards beginners, intermediates, and advanced riders. The downhill trails are flowy with lots of banked turns and smooth lines, so kids can spend some time getting comfortable and then push their limits a bit as well.
As a parent, I love that I can have kids riding three or four different trails and that I can keep an eye on everyone from the top. It's a major family win for us since everyone gets to ride at their skill and interest level, but we're still riding together. If your kids want to try to learn how to do jumps, ride bridges, or master banked turns, Trailside is the place to perfect their skills.
Our younger kids never seem to last as long as the older kids, which is never a problem at Trailside. With a concrete skate park, the kids love to shift gears and take their bikes and scooters over the manmade park. Just below the skate park is the playground, which is the best playground in Park City in my book. The playground is seriously giant and has so much to do that even my teenager loves to play here. The shaded pavilion nearby makes it the perfect spot for a family picnic, so pack a lunch and plan on staying a while.
Tips to Help Kids Learn to Mountain Bike
Want to help your kids be more successful as they learn to mountain bike? Here are a few things to teach them as they get started:
- As they ride down, make sure to keep your pedals level with one in front and one in back, to create a platform to stand on. When riding down the hill, come off your seat a little bit and bend your knees.
- Keep a few fingers lightly covering your brakes. This allows them to hold their handlebars securely, but also be ready to stop quickly if they need to.
- Remind them that it's okay to walk sections that they're nervous about. They don't have to do everything today or even this year.
If you've got a child who is really interested in mountain biking but doesn't seem to have the strength to ride uphill, I highly recommend investing in a Tow-Whee strap. They strap onto the front of the kids' bike and around an adult's seat so that you can help tow them up the hill (don't worry, it doesn't add much weight, and is really easy to pull). Most local bike shops have them, and it's been a game-changer to help increase our kids' confidence and give them the energy to ride farther.
Where to Rent Bikes in Park City
There are plenty of bike shops in Park City that rent mountain bikes for kids, so simplify your trip and leave your gear at home. Here are some great places to rent mountain bikes in Park City.