Exclusive Excursions is a small tour company located in the tiny mountain resort town of Park City, Utah (USA). The company, which is owned and operated by 27-year-old Jeff Manwaring, conducts year-round hiking and biking tours for locals and tourists alike. If hiking or biking isn’t your thing, just talk with Jeff and he will set you up on an incredible train ride, golf outing, cave exploration, kayak adventure or just about anything else you can think of. When it comes to outdoor entertainment, Park City, Utah is one of the best places in the world… and Exclusive Excursions is here to help you enjoy your adventures in this amazing mountain paradise.
Recently, I had the great pleasure of joining Exclusive Excursions on one of their regular summer bicycle tours – a 15-mile bike ride on Park City’s historic Rail Trail bike path. On the tour with me was Mr. and Mrs. Muffoletto, residents of Park City who came to Exclusive Excursions because they simply wanted to do something fun and outdoorsy on their home turf. Also on the tour was Robert Kibble, his son (also named Robert), and their family care sitter, Katie.
I met Jeff, the tour leader, and his assistant Terrea in a parking lot just north of the start to the Park City Rail Trail. Once there, I introduced myself to the pair and waited for the other tour participants to arrive. Meanwhile, Jeff and Terrea unloaded the bikes from the large company shuttle bus. Right off the bat, I was impressed at how nice the bicycles actually were. Unlike some tour companies that use only the cheapest of bicycles on their guided expeditions, the bikes that were being used here by Exclusive Excursions were fairly high class. This was great to see!
The first group of riders to arrive was Mr. and Mrs. Muffoletto. As soon as they arrived, Jeff introduced himself and explained the route that everyone would be taking on the tour.
The Park City Rail Trail is a 28-mile hiking path and bike-way that traverses through the Wasatch Mountains near Park City and the wetland meadows in Silver Creek Canyon. The trail was built over what used to be the Union Pacific Railroad spur that ran from the mining town of Park City to the main Union Pacific Railroad line in Echo, Utah.
The Rail Trail was first opened in 1992 and was one of America’s first 500 rail trails. Starting in the Prospector Square area of downtown Park City, the trail starts out at an elevation of 6,900 feet and continues from there at a steady 2-3% downhill grade. On the trail’s northern most end, the elevation is a meer 5,200 square feet, which means that if you start in Park City and continue on the trail from there, it’s almost an entirely downhill ride, which makes for an incredible outdoor experience for cyclists of all skill levels.
After Mr. and Mrs. Muffoletto were fitted with helmets and the properly sized bicycles, they took off down the path alone, while Jeff and I waited for the second group of cyclists to join us. Moments later Robert, Robert and Katie arrived. Little Robert, who was just 9-years-old would be the youngest rider of the day.
Once everyone was suited up for their 15-mile ride down the historic Park City Rail Trail, we all took off at nice steady pace.
For the first couple miles, as you leave downtown Park City, the trail is paved and fairly populated, as the trail in this part of the city is a popular area for runners, walkers and cyclists of all types. In the photo below, you can see Jeff on the right in his orange jersey, leading Robert and Katie down the trail while the slopes of Park City Mountain Resort (a popular winter ski and snowboard resort in downtown Park City) sits looming in the distance.
Over the first couple miles on the trail, there is a plethora of plant and animal life. Ducks, beaver and even an occasional moose or fox can be spotted here.
After just a few miles, the Park City Rail Trail turns to dirt, the high vegetation disappears and the scenery transforms into a high desert landscape filled with colorful short grasses, bright pink thistles, the occasional sunflower, and a sprinkling of traditional farm animals.
As we ride, our tour leader, Jeff, jumps from one rider to the next, talking to them each as we go along. Jeff is an incredibly personable guy and from the get-go I know that I’m going to like him. He’s great at handling the demands of each of his customers and it’s obvious that he loves what he is doing.
At three or four different places along the route, the participating cyclists and I were forced to stop and walk our bikes through unlocked cattle guards. Once through, we would close the gate behind us and continue on our way.
Jonathan, the young 9-year-old boy in our group, did an incredible job cycling his way down the 15-mile stretch of unpaved road. He not only made the bike ride look easy, but he seemed to be having a lot of fun in the process.
After the first seven or eight miles of steady cycling, our tour group crossed under Utah’s Interstate 80 and continued on the trail, which now ran along side a slow moving creek to our right. Here, the downhill grade of the trail picked up a bit and for many long stretches we were able to ride our bikes without even having to pedal. You could just sit back and enjoy the scenery!
For several miles we coasted like that, pedaling on occasion, until we arrived in the tiny town of Wanship. Once there, we met up with Terrea, who had driven the company shuttle bus up ahead to meet us, and the other tour riders in our group, Mr. and Mrs. Muffoletto, who had arrived in Wanship several minutes before the rest of us.
At a small trail-side parking lot and rest station, there were sandwiches, chips, drinks and a whole host of other snack foods awaiting us. It was just after noon at this point, so the timing couldn’t be more perfect. We all sat down and rested our legs while we chatted with one another about the trip.
After finishing our lunch, I snapped a photo of everyone in the group, before our bikes were loaded back onto the shuttle bus and we were all driven back to Park City where out tour had begun just a few hours prior.
For anyone visiting Park City, the Rail Trail bike tour, put on by Exclusive Excursions is an great way to explore the area by bike. It’s a super easy bike ride, which makes it perfect for cyclists with little to no experience, and at just $75 for adults and $60 for children ($40 if you bring your own bike), the price can’t be beat!
For more information on Exclusive Excursions, the Rail Trail Bike Tour, and other services provided by Jeff Manwaring and his fantastic local tour company, please visit: www.exclusiveexcursions.net
To view more photos from my bike tour with Exclusive Excursions, please visit my Flickr page.