Put a paper airplane down on this breezy PowMow loop


The still young trails of Powder Mountain are open to hikers and mountain bikers and offer something for everyone.

(Leia Larsen | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ryan Lauck rolls over the Paper Airplane sculpture on Powder Mountain on June 8, 2021.

Would you like a trail that makes you feel like you are on top of the world, passes a cool metal sculpture of a paper airplane and constantly feels about 10 to 20 degrees cooler than the Wasatch Front? Then take a trip to Powder Mountain.

PowMow extends over the districts of Cache and Weber and is best known for its eponymous snow. In 2015, however, the ski resort’s operators began building cross-country bike routes, which also quickly turned the mountain into a summer destination. You won’t get anywhere near the crowds that other summer playgrounds like Park City or the nearby Snowbasin slam. The tranquility and expansive views 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’re connecting a number of the mountain’s most popular singletrack sections into an 11km loop. While the description was mainly written for bikers, the round can also be done as a hike. In fact, the section from Woody’s World to the Sculpture of the Paper Airplane makes for a fun four mile hike with plenty of shade, wildflowers, and breathtaking panoramas.

The trails are privately owned but open to the public all summer, with the exception of occasional closings for maintenance, races and events. Visit the Powder Mountain website or social media pages for updates.

Hiking / cycling • The parking lot is just below the Timberline Lodge, where this loop ends. Go about 15 meters down Summit Pass until you see a brown sign for Woody’s World on the right. The trail is classified as moderately difficult, but smooth and not technical, only steep in a few places.

About a mile and a half, the trail forks with another brown marker. Go right to the Paper Airplane, which is marked as easy but has some tricky rocky sections towards the end for bikers (hikers shouldn’t have a problem). Shortly after the descent of this path you reach another fork in the path with a steep curve to the right and a flatter path to the left. They both land in the same place – the Paper Airplane sculpture – but the steeper trail is best for downhill bikers, while the flatter section is better for hikers and uphill bikers.

Take a turn on the paper airplane, then stop to snap photos and take in views of the Ogden Valley. Follow the Paper Airplane Trail until you see another marker near a large bridge for Green Banana Purple Bandana, or “GBPB,” an easy connecting path that will lead you to the ridge. Once at the top, take a deep breath and enjoy another magnificent view, this time of the Cache Valley.

From there, cross the gravel road and follow the signs to Doctor’s Dozen, hanging on the left at every fork in the road. This section is awesome, with flowing downhill terrain, banked turns, and big jumps if that’s your thing (they’re easy to bypass if it’s not your thing). Take a minute down below to have a snack, maybe even a swim, at Hidden Lake, as there is a great deal of drudgery ahead of you.

Walk up the dirt road to the top of the ridge. This section will test your mental strength. There’s no shade, it’s relentlessly steep with gradients of up to 11% and it’s the only way out. But it’s only half a mile. At the top, turn right onto the trail marked Britton’s Ribbon for more fun, flowing singletrack (and another short, steep section near the summit).

Britton’s Ribbon ends at Timberline Lodge. Cycle (or walk) across the parking lot to the paved road and immediately turn left onto Summit Pass to reach the trailhead.

Get there • From Eden in the Ogden Valley, head up State Route 158 to get to Powder Mountain. Turn right onto Summit Pass and park immediately on the left in the small gravel parking lot. Toilets are available daily at Hidden Lake Lodge, which is about a mile up Summit Pass. Unfortunately, the resort isn’t serving its famous tacos and frosty drinks at Hidden Lake Lodge this year.

Paper airplane loop

Region: Ogden Valley.

Aim: Lookouts, Hidden Lake and the Paper Airplane sculpture by artist Griffin Loop.

Distance: 7.12 miles.

Time: 1 ½ hours by bike.

Height gain: 939 feet.

Dogs allowed: Yes.

Toilets: Yes.

To go biking: Yes.

Difficulty: Medium.


About Stephanie McGehee

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