Cycling Hub: Ogden Valley
Ogden — or O-Town, as the locals call it — boomed in the railroad era and busted when air travel took off. In the decades afterward, the city grappled with what it would become, until the 1990s when leaders decided to capitalize on the region’s natural beauty and establish Ogden as an outdoor adventure mecca. Today, consider that vision realized: Many well-known outdoor brands relocated to Ogden, thanks in part to the world-class road and mountain biking just minutes from town. And Utah’s oldest watering hole, Shooting Star Saloon, still stands along one of the region’s best high-altitude road biking routes.
Away from city crowds and traffic in neighboring Ogden, Ogden Valley’s biking scene stands out among local cycling circles. Cyclists love the diverse riding conditions nestled among big mountain backdrops. Amateur and experienced riders alike can find a ride that suits their skills and desired mileage, from huge climbs and descents to rolling farmland to cruising around Pineview Reservoir, the area’s watersports hub, and it’s all just minutes from Ogden itself or 45 miles from Salt Lake City.
There’s a reason USA Cycling has tapped the area for both its Collegiate and Masters Road National Championship races four times in the last six years.
Old Snowbasin Road Loop, 12 miles
Though the Old Snowbasin Road can be washed out in some sections, this loop is still a captivating ride with plenty of challenging climbs and descents. The road is void of traffic, but often frequented by wildlife, and the best way to ride it is starting uphill so you can better navigate any washed out areas. The top of the first climb offers jaw-dropping views of Snowbasin Ski Resort’s peaks and expansive green mountain valleys. Cyclists continue descending and climbing past meadows and aspen stands until reaching Trapper’s Loop, a main thoroughfare for Ogdenites. The route is wide, but care should be taken when riding it during busy weekends and holidays.
Known as a must-ride route by locals, Liberty Loop encompasses everything unique about the Ogden Valley on one ride. The town’s name, Eden, fits the picturesque landscape of vibrant green valleys juxtaposed with snowcapped peaks, and scant motor traffic slows you down as you take in the views. You’ll pass by Nordic Valley’s slopes, a worthwhile stop for affordable family fun, scenic chairlift rides, and live music on summer weekends.
Want to test your limits? Take the spur off Liberty Loop to the North Ogden Divide, a challenging climb to 6,200 feet followed by an equally steep descent. It’s annually conquered by Tour of Utah riders, but the small shoulder and increasing traffic can make it dangerous, especially for inexperienced cyclists. Also ensure your brakes work well before riding, as the steep grade can make a too speedy descent dangerous.
Peterson Loop, 24 miles
Fast and mostly flat, the Peterson Loop showcases Morgan County’s agriculture on quiet rural roads. The route starts at 5,076 feet at Riverside Park in Morgan, gaining just 705 feet in its 24 miles.
Morgan Loop, about 40 miles
Morgan is small-town riding at its finest. Begin the Morgan Loop by taking the Old Highway until Morgan, then turn onto State Street and ride uphill to East Canyon Reservoir, a hidden gem popular with boaters and anglers. Turn back here and follow Young Street to Morgan Valley Drive, staying on the road until returning to your starting point. Skip the hill climb to the reservoir to make it a family-friendly ride.
Ogden is a biking mecca — with altitude — so give yourself at least a day to adjust to the 5,000-foot elevation before taking on a challenging ride, especially if you’re arriving from sea level. Expect to feel more breathless than normal when riding uphill, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and ward off the dreaded high-altitude headaches. Don’t forget to load up on sunscreen, either: You’re more susceptible to burns at higher altitudes, especially when you’re sweating.
Local Bike Shops:
Need your bike tuned before your ride? Or looking for a group to ride with while you’re visiting? Skyline Cycle in Ogden offers Wednesday night group road rides every week that are open to all levels of riders, and this shop repairs any brand of bike. The Bike Shoppe, also in Ogden, rents road bikes for $80 a day and offers unique group rides like their Peak A Week series, where they climb Ogden’s tallest peaks accessible by bike and soak in summit views.