Want a trail that makes you feel like you’re on top of the world, zips past a cool metal sculpture of a paper airplane, and consistently feels about 10 to 20 degrees cooler than the Wasatch Front? Then take a trip up to Powder Mountain.
Straddling Cache and Weber counties, PowMow is mostly known for its namesake snow. In 2015, though, the ski resort’s operators started building cross-country biking trails that are quickly turning the mountain into a summer destination, too. You won’t see nearly the crowds that slam other summer playgrounds, like Park City or nearby Snowbasin. The serenity and sweeping vistas alone make Powder Mountain’s trails worth the drive — on a clear day, you can see all the way through the Ogden Divide to the Great Salt Lake and beyond.
For this week’s Trib Trails, we link a series of the mountain’s most popular singletrack sections to form a seven-mile loop. While the description is mostly written with bikers in mind, the loop also is doable as a hike. In fact, the section from Woody’s World to the Paper Airplane sculpture makes for a fun four-mile out-and-back trek with lots of shade, wildflowers and stunning panoramas.
The trails are privately owned but open to the public throughout the summer, except for the occasional closure due to maintenance, races and events. Check the Powder Mountain website or social media pages for updates.
Hike/bike • The parking area is directly below Timberline Lodge, which is where this loop ends. Head down Summit Pass about 50 feet until you see a brown trail marker on the right for Woody’s World. The trail is classified intermediate, but it’s smooth and nontechnical, just steep in some places.
About a mile and a half in, the trail forks with another brown marker. Go right for Paper Airplane, which is labeled easy but has some tricky rock sections toward the end for bikers (hikers should have no problem). Shortly after heading down this trail, you’ll reach another fork, with a banked turn to the right and a flatter path to the left. They both end up at the same place — the Paper Airplane sculpture — but the steeper path is best for downhill bikers while the flatter section is better for hikers and uphill bikers.
Bank a turn on the Paper Airplane, then stop to take pictures and enjoy the view of Ogden Valley. Continue up the Paper Airplane Trail until you see another marker near a large bridge for Green Banana Purple Bandana, or “GBPB,” an easy connector trail that takes you to the ridge. At the top, catch your breath and enjoy another gorgeous view, this time of Cache Valley.
From there, cross the dirt road and follow signs for Doctor’s Dozen, hanging left whenever the trail forks. This section is quite the lark, with flowing downhill terrain, banked turns and big jumps, if that’s your thing (they’re easily bypassed if it’s not your thing). Take a minute at the bottom to have a snack at Hidden Lake, maybe even take a dip, because there’s a big slog ahead.
Head up the dirt road back to the top of the ridge. This section will test your mental fortitude. There’s no shade, it’s relentlessly steep with grades up to 11%, and it’s the only way out. But it’s also only half a mile. At the top, head right for the trail marked Britton’s Ribbon for more fun, flowing downhill singletrack (and one more short, steep section near the top).
Britton’s Ribbon ends at the Timberline Lodge. Bike (or walk) across the parking lot to the paved road and immediately take a left on Summit Pass to finish where you started.
Getting There • From Eden in Ogden Valley, head up State Route 158 to access Powder Mountain. Turn right on Summit Pass and park at the small gravel parking lot immediately to the left. Restrooms are available daily at the Hidden Lake Lodge, which is about a mile farther up Summit Pass. Unfortunately, the resort is not serving its famous tacos and frosty beverages at Hidden Lake Lodge this year.
Paper Airplane Loop
Region: Ogden Valley.
Destination: Overlooks, Hidden Lake and the Paper Airplane sculpture, created by artist Griffin Loop.
Distance: 7.12 miles.
Time: 1 ½ hours on a bike.
Elevation Gain: 939 feet.
Dogs Allowed: Yes.