Often, I have guests who are looking for a mellow hiking trail. And while I am always quick to tell them about some of the easier hikes at Deer Valley Resort (in large part because they all start and finish at Royal Street Cafe, and nothing’s better after a hike than an alfresco Bison Burger and an iced tea–or one of the cafe’s award-winning cocktails while the resort is open during the summer season). But I’m also a fan of some of the amazing views of town you can get from trails all around Park City. One of my favorites is Lost Prospector. You can start at the bottom of the Aerie or from the Rail Trail and catch views of the ski resorts, City Park, Park City High School, Round Valley, and beyond.
It is a great kid-friendly hike, and we typically include it on our itinerary while entertaining out-of-town guests. At the viewpoint for the Park City landmark on Treasure Mountain, the kids took turns in photo-ops designed to make it look like they were holding the letters in their hands.
Granted, on one of my first outings of the summer, I took the first half of the trail name a little too seriously, and instead of connecting back to the Rail Trail via either the fire road at the back of Chatham Hills or Skid Row, I followed the trail all the way to the very back of Solamere. In just over 90 minutes, I had traveled about 4.5 miles, in a combination of trail running and walk-paced hiking, and now I had less than 20 minutes to get myself back to City Park before my kids two-hour skateboard camp ended. Oops. Thankfully, this classic Park City “problem” had a classic Park City solution–I simply called my friend Beth, who lives nearby, and who also had kids at the skate park, and asked her to meet me at the fire road in her car. Laughing, she agreed, and I sprinted my way back along the trail to meet her.
My next outing on the Lost Prospector trail involved two friends and our mountain bikes. We set out from the parking lot at Rail Central, took the paved path up through City Park to the bottom of Main Street, walked our bikes across Hwy-224, then rode uphill in the Aerie a few hundred yards to the trail head. As we took off, I reminded both of them of my recent calamity, and assumed that if we got separated (read: I fell behind), we would meet at the bottom of the fire road. The ride itself was a lot of fun. On my hike the week before, I had identified about a dozen spots where I thought I might need to get off and walk (around sharp corners, over extremely rocky sections) and surprised myself by walking less than I’d planned. Most of the trail is so smooth and shaded that it’s a pleasure to let your tires glide over stretches of single track. It was a casual ride with plenty of breaks to hydrate and chat.
Of course, I fell behind just enough that I did not see them pass the fire road so we could, ostensibly, take the Skid Row exit to the Rail Trail. I walked down most of the fire road (even my experienced biker friend said she would do the same…it’s straight downhill and rather rocky), and then, when I didn’t see them at the trail head, hightailed it back to the parking lot alongside the Rail Trail where we had started, saw they were not here, and biked back to the Chatham Hills trail head to look for them. They spied me for the trail above and shouted that they would meet me at the cars. A few minutes later, my phone rang and it was my friends, telling me they had missed the Skid Row turnoff and were now walking their bikes down a more technical exit trail–(duh! Why hadn’t I thought to call them, earlier). “Go ahead, we’ll call you later'” they said. “No problem,” I replied. “I’m going to buy a trail map.”
Mountain Trails Foundation offers an interactive trail map on their website www.mountaintrails.org, and paper maps for sale at many local retailers.