Utah has long been one of Colorado’s fiercest rivals in terms of ski tourism. It can’t quite compete with the sheer number of Colorado’s resorts, but it levels the playing field with bigger snowfall totals and more centrally located resorts.
But when the snow melts and the lifts start cranking for the summer, Colorado dominates the biking scene. Colorado ski resorts like Winter Park and Keystone make up a who’s who of top biking parks in the U.S., and Utah resorts don’t have a thing to say about it.
Over the past few years, public entities, nonprofits and dedicated volunteers in Utah have been stepping into the void left by resorts. Public-sponsored parks have sprouted up in places like Park City and Eagle Mountain, and the grassroots approach has become the default of how freeriding gets done in the Beehive State.
The latest park to join the ranks is the Ogden Freeride Park, which celebrates its first full season this year. Hot on the heels of a controversial forest-service shutdown of an unauthorized freeride route in Little Cottonwood Canyon last summer, attention turned northward to Ogden, where a group of supporters had little trouble getting the ear of the outdoor friendly administration in city hall. Building got under way last September, and a group of mountain biking enthusiasts led by Ogden Bike Collective director Josh Jones has been shoveling dirt, rolling rocks and sculpting turns to give Ogden—and the greater northern Utah region—a place to go big.
While the crew of volunteers has put plenty of muscle into the park, they’ve had some big help from the city. Ogden leased the 46-acre parcel of land from the landowner, and in an effort to fast-track the park’s construction, the city has even provided access to city equipment like backhoes and trail cats—along with certified operators—to help transform dirt and rock into jumps, trails and features. So far, Jones said that there have been three all-out machine days, where city equipment has been put to full use.
For her part, Mother Nature created a mountain bench defined by undulating bowls, relentless rocks and boulders, and dry, low-elevation dirt that’s rideable for most of the year. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail and its spurs run directly through the area, and it is already a popular place to bike. It’s pretty much the ideal spot for a park. In fact, Ogden bikers have been using the area to build and launch illegal jumps for decades. The preexisting jumps in the area are now legit thanks to the park project.
So far, bikers will find a series of kickers, tabletops and gaps connected by tight, bermed singletrack at the top of the park, as well as a series of larger jumps in the 12th Street Jumps area.
“Right now we’re trying to get the lines developed. Features will come in later,” Jones said, “Down at the 12th Street dirt jumps, it’s going to be pretty epic.”
When all is said and done, the park will run the length of three city blocks, stringing three natural bowls together with tight, tacky trail and all kinds of features. In addition to dirt and rock, wood features like teeter-totters and ramps are part of the vision. The park will focus on progression and will have a skills section, where beginners can gain experience and confidence. Bail-outs will be built into all bigger features, giving bikers a way of maneuvering around them in case of the last-minute “Oh $#@!” moment.
Of course, the more people that get involved, the quicker the vision will be realized.
“The city’s response directly correlates to the amount of interest,” Jones said, encouraging people that are interested in helping to get after it.
People interested in volunteering can find out more about dig days via Facebook: Ogden Bikes. More than just manual labor, volunteers are an integral part in developing the park’s design and flow by way of monthly meetings.
For more specific questions and details, you can contact Jones at JoshJones [@] ogdencity.com.
If you’re not sure if freeride and dirt-jumping are for you, you’ll be able to see the action up close and personal later this year. The Gatorade Freeflow Tour will be returning to Ogden–the finals for the winter leg were held at Snowbasin—this August. The event will be held at the 12th Street Jumps on Aug. 6, so come out and see what Ogden’s freeride scene is all about.
And lest you think the freeride park is the only good thing going on in town for bikers, a 21st Street BMX track and downtown pump track are also in the works. It’s a good time to ride nubby tires in Ogden.
Chris Weiss is an Ogden-based writer who’s contributed to Bomb Snow, Colorado 365, Outdoorzy and Trails.Com. Check out his gear and outdoor news at Uncooped.Com.