Empire Pass, Midway Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

8 mi
3,248 ft
7.6 %


Page Contributor(s): Ron Hawks, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA


"One of the most difficult climbs in Utah, the south side of Empire Pass is a stout test that has seen professional cyclists race on its slopes (the 2012 Tour of Utah used this ascent) that shares most of its length with the east side of Guardsman Pass...From the junction at mile 6.9 turn right over moderate grade and soon find a flat and then a short descent. Climbing then resumes for a short distance over moderate grade up to the unmarked but obvious summit with excellent views of the mountains and Park City to the north." (This quote is presented with the approval of John Summerson, from his book, 50 Climbs (by Bike) in Utah, pg. 110.)
There are some extremely steep segments on this bike climb.  There are also a couple of brief descents in the first seven miles and a longer 0.75 mile flat beginning just before the right turn from Pine Canyon Drive onto Highway 224 (marked as Park City).  Eliminating descents raises the average grade of the climb from 7.5 to 8.2%.  The steepest quarter-mile of this route is 15% and there is a continuous mile that averages 12.3%.  26% of the climb is at grade ≥10% grade. 

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button.
Roadway:  Excellent condition as of 2019.  The road is narrow with no center stripe.  The road is closed during the winter.  Typical closure dates for SR 224 are early November through mid to late May.  Check roadway conditions at Utah Department of Transportation

Traffic:  Minimal. 

Parking:  There is parking near the start of the climb (Map; Street View), or at Wasatch Mountain State Park (Map; Street View) just 0.7 miles from the start of our climb. 
Provisions;  There is no food or water on this climb.  There are provisions in Midway near the start of the climb and in Park City 5 miles down the backside of Empire Pass. 

Equipment:  Proper gearing is important on a climb that has extended 15% segments. Also, you will be near 9,000' at the finish, so be sure to check the PJAMM Weather Tool for the forecast at the top near the time you expect to arrive there. 
Before heading out on any cycling adventure check out our Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip and use our interactive check list to ensure you don't forget anything.
We have stayed in Salt Lake City and Park City for our climbing trips to this area. Park City is probably the most central location for the climbs in this area.  See our Park City, Utah climb area page for more information.

Use the “Routes in Area” button on the menu bar above to see other bike climbs in this area. 



Difficulty: Extreme



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Sep 18, 2021
difficulty: Extreme
scenery: 5
traffic: 5
road: 5
Sep 18, 2021
scenery: 5
traffic: 5
road: 5
Absolutely amazing road surface, 10/10 asphalt. Wide road, few cars, but plenty of space for cars to easily pass. Descent line of sight for cars to see you as you crawl up the hill

Climb Profile Not Found

cycling Empire Pass from Midway - aerial drone view of roadway , mountains and forest

Routes along Empire Pass, from Park City and from Midway.

Climb summary by PJAMM’s John Johnson.

Ride 8 miles gaining 3,232’ at 7.5% average grade.

#6 Utah/#51

Empire Pass from Midway shares its first seven miles (and by far most difficult stretch) with Top 100 #14 cycling climb, Guardsman Pass. Guardsman/Empire Pass begins just north of Midway, Utah and can be  reached by either the Midway (more difficult), or Park City (least difficult) sides.  We can also connect with Empire Pass from Big Cottonwood Canyon, U.S. most difficult bicycle cimb #39. The Midway ascent to Empire Pass has been recently paved as of 2018 and is in excellent condition.

Before heading to Utah on your cycling adventure, be sure to rely on our list of Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip, and use our interactive checklist to ensure you don't forget anything.

Beginning of the bicycle climb to Empire Pass - road sign

Start of climb: Intersection of Warm Springs and Pine Canyon Roads,

 about two miles north of Midway.

RidingEmpire Pass from Midway by bike - Wasatch Forest sign

Enter the state park soon after the start.

Bike ride Empire Pass from Midway - sharp curve sign

Riding by bike Empire Pass from Midway - cyclist Ride through cottonwoods

Pass through cottonwood groves in the upper half of climb.

Nice views south to Midway and Deer Creek Reservoir.

cycling Empire Pass from Midway - cyclist on bike with deer park reservoir in background

The climb is steep cycling throughout its first seven miles (8.6%, 3,098') and levels off significantly after turning right at the junction of Guardsman and Empire Passes  (at the seven mile mark).  The last 0.9 miles of the "climb" are very mild with a 2.7% average grade and only 105' of elevation gained.

Cycling Empire Pass from Midway - cyclist on bike, Park City sign

Turn right at mile seven after 7.1 miles/3,115’/8.5%.

riding by bike Empire Pass from Midway - Views from Guardsman Pass

         cycling Empire Pass from Midway - pass sign, bike, pjamm jersey

Travel the remaining nine-tenths mile at 2.5%.

Traffic and Roadway Report:  The roadway surface since 2018 is exceptional as the road has been repaved.  Traffic is very light.  

Steepest ¼ mile begins at mile 1.8 (15%); steepest mile beings at mile 1.2 (12.4%)

Note:  Empire Pass from Midway was the last climb of the 2019 Tour of Utah.  This climb is just before the descent into Park City for the finish of Stage 6 and the Tour of Utah on August, 18, 2019.

Beginning of the bicycle climb to Empire Pass - road sign

Empire Pass Tour of Utah History:  As best we can tell from our research, Empire Pass has been included in the TofU 7 of the last 10 years (2012-2016, 2018-2019).

Epilogue:  Joe Dombrowski (USA; winner 2015 Tour of Utah) won the stage in 3:11:09 (24 seconds in front of João Almeida (Por)).  Ben Hermans (Bel) won the Tour of Utah at 18:46:09 by 50 seconds over James Piccoli (Can).

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